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The old Linton library building is worth savingPosted Friday, June 20, 2008, at 3:34 PM
Our community is blessed with some beautiful historic buildings -- real gems of architecture.
One of those, the old Margaret Cooper Public Library, is one of the best.
It's Tudor style is magnificent.
Possibly, and unfortunately, its days are probably numbered.
Actually, it's already been taken out of public use since the new library was constructed late last year.
The Linton Public Library Board of Trustees decided Thursday night to proceed with the commercial sale of the building and property on East Vincennes Street.
If it's sold privately, it will be either through a commercial realtor or by auction.
Let me be clear. The Linton community needed a new library for years and the new facility is wonderful.
This is not about debating whether constructing a new library building had merit.
The decision to build was without a doubt a wise one.
And to be honest, everyone in the community should be proud every time they walk though its doors or even drive past it.
It is a vast improvement. It was needed.
The issue is, I wish there was a way to keep the grand old building.
Maintenance costs are understandably high.
The building needs a lot of work, no matter what its future use will be.
The history of the building is traced to the early 1900s.
At the turn of the century, Linton was thriving mining town and its population was growing every day. The citizens decided that a library was a definite need of the city.
The library board members were appointed in 1902, and a petition of 24 signatures was sent to the Andrew Carnegie Corporation for financial assistance in its construction.
The letter stated that many boys and girls were not able to attend school because they had to spend their days helping their families by working. These young people had free time in the evenings, which could be spent at the public library instead of "unsuitable places" of amusement
After pleading their case with the Carnegie folks, their request for a new library was granted on Dec. 24, 1907. Andrew Carnegie agreed to spend $15,000 on the new library, and the community agreed to support the library with tax money.
The library was completed on March 14, 1909.
Few of these Carnegie library buildings remain anywhere in the country.
I would really like to see this old building preserved in some fashion.
It would have made wonderful showcase for a county tourism office at the entrance to the budding Goose Pond Fish and Wildlife project.
Heaven forbid that the building will sell and then someone will tear it down.
Buildings like that one can't be replaced or duplicated in this day and age.
Our town and others needs to take care of things in our heritage and do whatever we can to keep a visual link to our history.
The old library building would be a good way to do that.
My family recently spent a few days over Memorial Day Weekend at a really nice little town on Lake Michigan called St. Joseph, Mich. It's a typical tourist community on the east coast of the lake. Clean sandy beaches and really nice parks. The town is like stepping into a community from the 1950s or '60s.
A lot of small store front retails stores. They even had a 5 and 10 store like I remember when I was kid.
On each street corner was a large container of multi-color flowers and also a really neat little sailboat -- about three feet long. The boats, we learned, were all designed and crafted by the school children and the best were put on public display by the town's leaders.
What a great way to promote the arts and to showcase the work of the young students.
Another really interesting thing we saw was the town's old fire station -- which Linton still has one -- has been converted into a quaint little deli that served all kinds of sandwiches, bakery items and coffees. The place still had a shiny fireman's pole in it and on the walls were firefighter helmets and turnout gear.
Instead of tearing down the old fire station when a new one was built, the place was put up for sale and purchased by a local investor. He preserved a piece of the town's history and developed a really cool place for tourists and townsfolk to stop, gather and keep a handle on yesteryear.
Maybe our community can learn something from all this as we forge forward and develop. We all need to think outside the box and do our part to keep a connection with the past.
Keeping old buildings and finding new uses might be a way to perpetuate our town's historic roots in a way that will impact future generations.
The old library building might be a good place to start and develop this niche.
It worked in St. Joseph, Mich., and it can work in Greene County.
Nick is the assistant editor for the Greene County Daily World. He can be reached by telephone at 847-4487 or 1-800-947-4487 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org
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