For 103 years, Bemidji's Carnegie Library has stood like a symmetrical brick-and-stone sentinel on the shores of Lake Bemidji. But dilapidated and crowded in by a new highway, its days looked numbered. The Bemidji City Council voted last year to demolish the building, which stopped being a library in the 1960s and is now an art gallery.
A volunteer "Save the Carnegie" group has since raised $500,000, nearly a third of its goal, and convinced council members to halt the demolition. They even held an "Anti Wrecking Ball." The Preservation Alliance of Minnesota just named the library its first "Site Worth Saving."
"The grand old Carnegie Library is a cornerstone in our historic downtown," said Lew Crenshaw, one of the preservations. "It speaks to us."
His Save the Carnegie committee hopes to renovate the building as a public space for conferences and other events. Michael J. Burns Architects, a Moorhead firm that rehabbed the Thief River Falls Carnegie Library, is drawing up plans.