The St. Anthony Park branch library and three other grandes dames of the St. Paul Public Library system are celebrating their 100th anniversary this year. But neither the buildings nor the books, technology and information inside are showing their age.
The celebrations start Monday with a garden party and puppet show at St. Anthony Park and continue through October at the Riverview, Arlington Hills and George Latimer Central libraries.
The St. Anthony Park and Riverview branches are Carnegie libraries, as is the former home of the Arlington Hills branch, now the East Side Freedom Library. The stately Beaux Arts structures were financed by steel magnate and philanthropist Andrew Carnegie. His largesse led to the building of 2,509 Carnegie libraries between 1883 and 1929, including 66 in Minnesota.
The graceful St. Anthony Park branch, at 2245 Como Av., was built by St. Paul architect Charles Hausler. It has been on the National Register of Historic Places since 1984.
The library has seen changes and additions in the past 100 years but its support from neighbors has never wavered, said Tracy Baumann, former manager of the St. Anthony Park branch and now manager of the Arlington Hills branch.
“The building has been a very important part of the neighborhood in St. Anthony Park,” Baumann said. Money from the St. Anthony Park Library Association’s annual book sale helps with programming, children’s activities and the library’s gardens.
Gardens bloom in front and now in back of the library. A few years ago, volunteers cleared brush at the back and planted a pollinator garden to resemble spokes radiating from a sun.
In the mid-1980s, a children’s section was added on to the library’s rotunda.
The celebration Monday (5-7 p.m.) will include children’s crafts, a garden party and puppet shows. Attendees are asked to bring a picnic.
This fall, the community will be invited to help draw and put together a mosaic art project that will be hung in the middle of the library.
For a list of upcoming events at other libraries, go to sppl.org/100.