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Galena in Jo Daviess County, Illinois — The American Midwest (Great Lakes)
 

Galena Public Library

 
 
Galena Public Library Marker image. Click for full size.
By Cosmos Mariner, August 7, 2017
1. Galena Public Library Marker
Inscription.  In 1892, Benjamin Franklin Felt, a retired local merchant, presented the Galena City Council with a petition to fund a free public library. When the council said no, Felt and his daughter Anna opened their parlor to the public as a lending library.

Two years later, Felt offered to pay the total costs to start a library, donate 1,200 books, as well as find and pay for a location. The qualification was that after two years the city would then take over and run the library with a tax of forty cents per household per year. The offer met with tremendous public support, and the City Council voted to accept Felt's generous proposition.

B. F. Felt's proposal was unique in one important respect. He stipulated that four of the nine Library Board Trustees be female. The Chicago Evening Post was unable to find a woman library director in any institution in Chicago, reporting, "Galena truly has put Chicago to the blush." Anna Felt was the first financial secretary of the Board of Trustees and remained on the trustee board until her death in 1953.

The Galena Public Library and Reading Room opened on January 3, 1895, on the second floor
Marker detail: January 3, 1895 • Library Opened image. Click for full size.
2. Marker detail: January 3, 1895 • Library Opened
Library opened to the public on 2nd floor of the old Post Office.
Click or scan to see
this page online
of the old Post Office which had been the Customs House. The new library established rules stating that no "anarchistic, atheistic, or immoral book shall be tolerated; … that no person having any contagious disease be allowed in the library; and that perfect quiet must be maintained in the Reading Room."

Within a few years, the library was overcrowded. In 1905, David Sheean, the President of the Board of Trustees, contacted Andrew Carnegie, who offered $12,500 if a site were furnished and if the city would maintain the library. The B. F. Felt Estate matched the Carnegie offer and would also provide land for the library.

Anna Felt bought the library lot and stipulated that the site be viewed from the heart of town, "a perspective in perpetuity." To ensure the building's visibility from Main Street and Park Avenue, Anna purchased property and the Stillman family donated land in front of the library from Bench Street to Main Street, which became known as Library Park.

The cornerstone of the new library was laid on April 27, 1907. Built of Indiana limestone in Classical Greek Style, the library building also incorporated Prairie Style elements in its interior. The two glass mosaic fireplaces were a gift from Emma Robb, originator of the children's story hour and a family friend of the Felts. The wrought iron stacks are original to the old Post Office library. The
Marker detail: 1906 & 1907 • Construction image. Click for full size.
3. Marker detail: 1906 & 1907 • Construction
May 12, 1906 • Building site chosen.
October 8, 1906 • First sod turned.
April 27, 1907 • Cornerstone laid.
completed Galena Public Library was dedicated and opened for the public on Independence Day, July 4, 1908.

The Galena Public Library had three indispensable founders in Benjamin Felt, Anna Felt and David Sheean. Through the years, many trustees, librarians and patrons have also made and continue to make vital contributions to its success.

Galena Public Library Timeline
October 4, 1894 • Library founded by Benjamin Franklin Felt.
January 3, 1895 • Library opened to the public on the second floor of the old Post Office.
May 12, 1906 • Building site chosen.
October 8, 1906 • First sod turned.
April 27, 1907 • Cornerstone laid.
July 4, 1908 • Galena Public Library dedication.
July 4, 2008 • Flag Raising at centennial celebration.
 
Erected by Friends of Galena Public Library, Inc.
 
Topics and series. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: ArchitectureCharity & Public WorkWomen. In addition, it is included in the Carnegie Libraries 📚 series list. A significant historical date for this entry is October 4, 1894.
 
Location. 42° 24.724′ N, 90° 25.897′ W. Marker is in Galena, Illinois, in Jo Daviess County. Marker is on South Bench Street just north of Magazine Street, on the
Marker detail: July 4, 1908 • Galena Public Library Dedication image. Click for full size.
4. Marker detail: July 4, 1908 • Galena Public Library Dedication
right when traveling south. Marker is located beside the sidewalk, directly in front of the subject library. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 601 South Bench Street, Galena IL 61036, United States of America. Touch for directions.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within 14 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. The De Soto House (approx. 0.2 miles away); Ulysses S. Grant Home (approx. 0.4 miles away); The Point Of Beginning (approx. 6.6 miles away in Wisconsin); St. Augustine Church (approx. 9.8 miles away in Wisconsin); Father Samuel Mazzuchelli (approx. 11.2 miles away in Wisconsin); The Old Chicago Stageroad (approx. 13 miles away in Wisconsin); City of Presidents — Presidential Shields (approx. 13.3 miles away in Wisconsin); The Whistle Post (approx. 13.4 miles away in Wisconsin). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Galena.
 
Regarding Galena Public Library. Contributing property, Galena Historic District, NRHP #69000056 and #13000854.
 
Also see . . .  Early History of the Galena Public Library. The cornerstone was laid, appropriately for Galena, on President Grant’s birthday, April 27, 1907. The new library was built of Indiana limestone in the Classical Greek architecture preferred by Andrew Carnegie. The newspaper referred to the “new Galena Felt-Carnegie Library”. The costs of the building, lots, endowments, etc. to initiate the new library was nearly
Marker detail: July 4, 2008 • Flag Raising at Centennial Celebration image. Click for full size.
5. Marker detail: July 4, 2008 • Flag Raising at Centennial Celebration
$60,000 of which Carnegie gave $12,500. The Felts gave the rest. (Submitted on April 17, 2021, by Cosmos Mariner of Cape Canaveral, Florida.) 
 
Marker detail: Benjamin Franklin Felt<br>(1821-1899) image. Click for full size.
6. Marker detail: Benjamin Franklin Felt
(1821-1899)
Marker detail: Anna Felt (1859-1953) image. Click for full size.
7. Marker detail: Anna Felt (1859-1953)
(Library trustee for 58 years.)
Galena Public Library Marker image. Click for full size.
By Cosmos Mariner, August 7, 2017
8. Galena Public Library Marker
(library in left background)
Wrought Iron Library Shelving image. Click for full size.
By Cosmos Mariner, August 7, 2017
9. Wrought Iron Library Shelving
(inside Galena Public Library)
Tiffany-style Mosaic Fireplaces image. Click for full size.
By Cosmos Mariner, August 7, 2017
10. Tiffany-style Mosaic Fireplaces
(inside Galena Public Library)
Galena Public Library<br>Valued Institution image. Click for full size.
11. Galena Public Library
Valued Institution
(Galena Daily Gazette, June 19, 1934 • on exhibit inside library)
One of the institutions that Galena and vicinity has to be proud of and thankful for is its Carnegie-Felt Public Library located on Bench Street. This library is situated in a strictly modern, well lighted and well ventilated building in a quiet part of town where the public can spend every afternoon in the week and three evenings a week among the latest periodicals, newspapers works of fiction and non-fiction.

Many libraries all over the country have had to close on account of the depression or limit their circulation to a few magazines or newspapers. Not so with the Galena library, it has not curtailed its services in the least. In fact the circulation during the depression has greatly increased, to be exact from May 1, 1933 to May 1, 1934 the circulation of books and magazines increased 1000 over the preceding year.
Quartoscope, circa 1897 image. Click for full size.
By Cosmos Mariner, August 7, 2017
12. Quartoscope, circa 1897
(on exhibit inside library)
From Wikipedia: This penny picture machine displays 48 pictures - four different sets of twelve stereo card shows. These were made to accept pennies or nickels. The viewer has to spend four coins to see them all. Mills Novelty Co. Pat. October 12, 1897. Some of these machines are known as the Mills Improved Quartoscope or Quartoscope Picture Machine.
Galena Public Library image. Click for full size.
By Cosmos Mariner, August 7, 2017
13. Galena Public Library
 
 
Credits. This page was last revised on April 17, 2021. It was originally submitted on April 15, 2021, by Cosmos Mariner of Cape Canaveral, Florida. This page has been viewed 47 times since then. Photos:   1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13. submitted on April 17, 2021, by Cosmos Mariner of Cape Canaveral, Florida.

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