Officials are working to market the former Xenia Carnegie Library in hopes of finding a new tenant for the building, which has been vacant for 20 years. The library is located just a few blocks from the city center. TY GREENLEES / STAFF
Photo: Ty Greenlees
Photo: Ty Greenlees

5 things you should know about the Xenia Carnegie Library

Getting the Xenia Carnegie Library on the National Register of Historic Places opens up tax credits and funding to rehabilitate the building and bring it up to current building standards.

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That happened in 2015 through the efforts of residents Barbara Bradfute and Josephine Reno who volunteered their time and skills to nominate the property, at 194 E. Church St. for the national registry. Getting the recognition enabled officials to get grants in part to pay for a historic structures report, which concluded that the building was structurally sound.

>> MORE: What will happen to the Xenia Carnegie Library?

Officials are now engaging with the community to find out what residents would like to see happen with the building and by the fall, officials plan to present three design options for the building to city and county leaders.

5 things you may not have known about the Xenia Carnegie Library

1. One of many. The Xenia Carnegie Library is one of 104 Carnegie libraries that were built in Ohio (Not including seven academic libraries built with Carnegie grants across the state). There were 2,509 built in various countries worldwide, including 1,795 in the U.S. Ohio has the third most Carnegie libraries in the country, according to Mary Ellen Armentrout who visited all of Ohio’s Carnegie libraries for her book "Carnegie Libraries of Ohio: Our Cultural Heritage.”

2. The Carnegie grant. The Xenia Carnegie Library came into existence after a group of literary enthusiasts asked for and were granted $20,000 through the Andrew Carnegie library program. The ladies later applied for and were granted $3,500 to furnish it. Two members of the group, Louisa Lackey and Diana Roberts, donated part of their estate to be the site of the building, and their nephew, Pittsburgh-based architect and Bellefontaine native William Kauffman, volunteered to design it. 

3. Build it, and expand. Construction on the Classical-Revival style structure took about a year and was completed in 1904, furnished in 1905 and opened in grand fashion to the public in June 1906. The library operations were expanded in the 1920s with added branches in the county and a book mobile to transport books between the branches. 

4. Weathering the storm. The building was significantly damaged by the 1974 tornado, which blew down trees, damaged the stained-glass dome and destroyed the clay-tile roof. The middle school across the street to the west was completely destroyed in the storm. Approximately 2,000 books were lost at the library, and damage estimates ranged from $27,000 to $42,000. The stained-glass dome was repaired, but in 1978 the Xenia Carnegie Library was deemed too small for the growing community. It was shuttered and used as storage when a new, bigger library was built. 

5. Let in the light. The design of the building needed to incorporate natural lighting as electricity was not widely available in the early 1900s, and the second-floor of the building, like many of the Carnegie libraries around the world, is made of see-through cut glass, which enables light to pass through from the stained-glass dome roof to the first floor.

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