Carnegie Arts Center; Parsons, Kansas
Posted by: Groundspeak Premium Member boatchick
N 37° 20.389 W 095° 15.657
15S E 299714 N 4134968
Quick Description: After an earlier, failed attempt, public library service was established in Parsons, Kansas with the aid of a Carnegie grant.
Location: Kansas, United States
Date Posted: 2/4/2010 3:42:55 PM
Waymark Code: WM85XV
Published By: Groundspeak Premium Member Jake39
Views: 3

Long Description:
The first building in Parsons specifically built for library service was opened in 1883. However, the organization did not have adequate funding and the lending bank foreclosed on the mortgage. In 1904, another attempt was made at establishing library service. A 1907 Carnegie grant of $22,500 ensured that this library would succeed. Architect E. F. Parker of Kansas City was hired to design the building. Parker's plans were approved by the Carnegie foundation in June of 1908, and by December of that year, the construction was finished. The Beaux-Arts library was built of Carthage marble, which is actually a fine-grained grey limestone. The grand opening was on 18 May 1909, with 3655 volumes in the collection.

As years went on, the Parsons library evolved to offer different services. In the 1940s, children over the age of 8 were first allowed to hold library cards, and the children's department grew and was eventually relocated to a room in the basement. A collection of records was started and loaned out to the public in the 1950s, and a copy machine was first added in the 1960s. By the late 60s, the library owned over 43,000 books and over 1000 records. Not surprisingly, this large collection required more space than the 1909-vintage building could provide, and in 1975, the decision was made to build a new library.

The Parsons Carnegie Library was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1976 as building #76000824, and was replaced by the new library building in 1977. The building was (and is still) fundamentally the same as when originally constructed. No expansions were ever made. A red clay tile roof was replaced with shingles at one point, but the clay tile roofing was restored in the 1980s. The building served for a time as the Parsons Childrens' Theater. It is now in use as the Carnegie Arts Center, which hosts art shows and other community events. The building recently celebrated its one hundredth anniversary.

Jones, Theodore. Carnegie Libraries Across America
Gardiner, Allen. The Carnegie Legacy in Kansas, available online
National Register of Historic Places City of Parsons, Kansas Parsons Public Library: About Us

Address of Library Building:
117 South 17th
Parsons, Kansas USA

Current Use of Building: arts center

Year Built (optional): 1909

Website about building: [Web Link]

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