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The old Carnegie library


Rotunda illuminated

I took a guided tour of the Carnegie Building today, which served as Duluth's public library from 1902-1980, I believe. It's a gorgeous building, and it was fun to hear Paul Roen, a great Duluthian, decribe what it was like to work in the building when it was a functioning library. It wasn't always so pretty, it turns out. Mostly it was dim, dingy, falling apart, and cramped. But the current owners have put a lot of work into it and made it into something fantastic.

Paul's tour was funny, insightful and entertaining. It really made me want to tour more Duluth buildings. I often get the urge to go inside some of the cool buildings in Duluth and look around, but it's so much better if you get the real scoop from someone who knows some of the history behind the place.

Aside from these photos, I have some more in a Flickr set. They're worth checking out, as the building is incredible.

Unfortunately, I didn't have my video camera with me, as this would have made a great Minnesota Story.



i've always loved this building. any insight into what the new owners are planning?

They're keeping as it currently is, office rental property. There are a lot of tenants currently, including Business North, Met Life, some CPAs and others. It's a working building and they want to keep it that way. But there are vacancies, if anyone's interested.

What makes it bad for a library is what makes it good for its current use: It's a labyrinth of small offices. This was the fashion in 1902, but it doesn't make much sense for a 20th or worse yet 21st-century library. Nonetheless, the place is beautiful and impressive, and should be put to use.

My husband's work is thinking of moving their office in there. I can't wait to go in to the building and look around!

I think we need two things in the world. Renovated historical buildings and public transportation.

Sometime this gas thing is just going to stop and there will be cars just sitting out on the street with people deferring to leave them there than to pay $100 for a gallon of gas.

Why does no one understand that all us people are connected. Not just the internet, but architecture, and adjacent land.

All of these ugly buildings being built for a future of being torn down, but something like this was made to be here for hundreds of years. In europe they've already embraced historic buildings and public transportation. We just keep sucking up available land to put concrete and tar. Covering grass. covering fields. filling in wetlands.

FACE IT. we all need to get to the same places that is why we built roads there. Why not go together? The cost of public transportation may be high, but is it less than the millions of lives lost to car crashes? Is it less than all of the land that is subjugated and split?

Tax breaks for renovations, not new things to grow our tax base. Free education for doctors, not a fleecing of america. Subways and trains, not cars and busses.

People and more people not more walls.

Barrett, how did you get the tour of the library?


I got to work there for a year and a half. Its a classy office space - spiral staircases, views of the central hall with big windows, lots of nooks and crannies, and leaded glass walkways.

I think we have enough people. If fact, we could stand to lose a few.

Bad Cat: My friend Cathie works at the (functioning) library and is friends with Paul Roen, who gave the tour. I'm not sure, but I believe the rest of the group was maybe from the Historical Society or something? They tour old buildings all the time.

What made this tour fun was that it wasn't so much about architecure and whatnot, but more about what the building was like when it was in heavy use, and how it has changed since the renovation.

i want to know what happens when you turn that screw. like some indian jones type of thing.

I remember going there in the days of yore. One time in 1974 i took home 13 books on witchcraft. I learned about how snappy of dressers the nazis were and also about fletching. Checking out with the ladies at the desks right by the front door. The smells of old book and gum arabic. Especially the glass block floors in the upper part in the back. Even though carngie was an asshole teapot dommer, gotta give him credit for some fine buildings and places of books for the people. Virginia Hyvarinen!

Hmm, there seem to be a good number of cool buildings I haven't toured yet. Any more good ones about?

Anyone want to organize a cool old building tour? I'd be in for that!

Bad Cat, the group I toured with was a community ed class that just tours old buildings. I'm sure it's an ongoing thing and that anyone can join.

Barrett: Lucky guy, and thanks for recognizing one of Duluth Architectureal jewels. I was lucky enough to work in this building in a couple of different offices in the 80's. the bst time of year is when they erect the Christmas tree in the middle of the rotunda! (or at least the old mamagement used to) THanks for the photos, guy.

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