Wisconsin Town is Home to Carnegie Library and Presidential History
Northland Uncovered: Washburn Public Library
WASHBURN, Wis. – A library is often a place for community and that’s a constant across the country, including right here in the Northland.
Some Wisconsinites even stop by their hometown library when they’re back in town just for a little reminder of home.
A Carnegie Library isn’t a rare sight to see in the country, but one building stands tall in a small Wisconsin town.
The Washburn Library was commissioned in 1904, built in 1905.
“You gotta expect that everybody who’s ever lived in this town for any amount of time for 113, 114 years, has been in this building,” said Library Director Darrell Pendergrass.
The library is on the National Register of Historic Places.
“He wanted the main floor to be up so that people would ascend to knowledge,” explained Pendergrass.
At the time it cost $20,000 to build, “the town had to come up with $10,000, he came up with the other $10,000,” said Pendergrass.
Pendergrass says improvements like fixing the roof can be difficult when the building is given such an historic design, “we couldn’t go changing the peaks and things like that.”
Keeping things original like the front desk also keeps memories alive.
“When they come in the door, they get a big smile on their face and they walk up to that desk and they put their hands on the desk, and they rub the desk, and usually they’ll say it doesn’t seem as tall as it once did,” said Pendergrass.
The woman who used to stand behind that desk is well known in town.
May Greenwood retired at the age of 94.
She was the oldest serving library in the country at the time and because of that fact, she got a big surprise.
“She got letters from President Eisenhower, Vice President Nixon, and President-elect John F. Kennedy,” said Pendergrass.
The Washburn Public Library is located at 307 Washington Ave. and is open every day but Sunday.