The Repository @ St. Cloud State

Open Access Knowledge and Scholarship

Date of Award


Culminating Project Type


Degree Name

History: Public History: M.A.




College of Liberal Arts

First Advisor

Mary Wingerd

Second Advisor

Robert Galler

Third Advisor

Thomas Steman

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.

Keywords and Subject Headings

Historic Preservation, Carnegie Libraries, Minnesota


American interest in historic preservation has been on the rise since the late 1960s. Efforts, successful and unsuccessful, to save historic landmarks have involved everyone from historians and city planners to average citizens fighting to save their memories. Much has been written about the process of preservation, but very little has been said about the reasons why one historic structure thrives while another languishes or is lost to the wrecker.

This thesis provides background on the Carnegie library building program and historic preservation in America, and includes a case study of four Minnesota Carnegie library buildings - built during the same time period, for the same purpose, and paid for by the same funds - yet having different fates. Analysis of these four libraries reveals several factors that affect an historic structure’s viability, including 1) building location and shifts within communities, 2) aging buildings facing new legislation and technology, 3) maintenance, renovations and repurposing, and 4) the local population’s attitude toward preservation.

Understanding these variables can help historians and preservationists, architects and city planners, and concerned citizens save money, effort, ecological resources, and collective memories of yesterday’s (and tomorrow’s) historic landmarks.


I wish to thank my advisor, Dr. Mary Wingerd, the members of my committee, Dr. Robert Galler and Tom Steman of the St. Cloud State University Archives as well as Professor Emeritus Dr. William Morgan and the faculty of the SCSU History Department for their guidance throughout this project. Thanks also to the staff of the Anoka County Historical Society, Stearns History Museum, Blue Earth County Historical Society, Washington County Historical Society, Minnesota Historical Society, the Carnegie Art Center of Mankato, and the Stillwater Public Library for sharing their stories and resources. Thank you to my family, friends, classmates, and colleagues for your support and encouragement.

Included in

History Commons



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