The Libraries of Freeport, IL

This post covers three library-related buildings in Freeport, IL

1. Freeport Carnegie Library
314 W Stephenson St
Freeport, IL 61032

Grant Date: February 21, 1901
Grant amount: $30,000
Architects: Patton & Miller (they also designed the Ida Public Library in Belvidere, IL)
Style: Classical Revival
Current holdings: 105,849 volumes
Annual Circulation: 274,148 items
Serves: 26,443 residents

Freeport’s Carnegie library is the oldest Carnegie library in Illinois. It is no longer in use as a library and there’s actually a court battle going on over who owns the building. (See here and here.) Whatever the resolution of that case, I hope the building will be saved and maintained.

Front entrance.
Close-up of the thank you to Mr. Carnegie.
A view through the front door. The interior from this vantage point doesn’t appear to be original.
Two Greek statues flank the library.
Close-up of the statue on the left, as you face the library.
Close-up of the statue on the right. She’s now partially hidden among the bushes.
Beautiful lines and contrast.
The back of the library. Don’t know if this was original or a later addition.


Window detail.

2. City Hall
230 West Stephenson Street
Freeport IL 61032

Built: 1899

There are several beautiful buildings along Stephen Street. Directly across from the Carnegie Library is a massive Masonic Temple, but the building that caught my eye is one with the names of authors engraved on the cornice. On the side of the building facing me as I walked over from the Carnegie Library are Dante, Shakespeare, Spencer, and Chaucer. Interesting order, I thought, but none of these names seemed particularly surprising choices (but now as I write this I do think Spencer a bit of an odd choice).

The side: Dante, Shakespeare, Spencer, Chaucer.


The front: Homer, Uhland, Rabelais, Emerson, Milton, Addison, and Newton.

At first, I thought this building was perhaps an older library, but then I noticed there were also a couple signs for the police department on the side. When I got around to the front of the building I saw that it was the City Hall. That made sense, as City Hall often housed the town library prior to Mr. Carnegie’s philanthropy changing the library landscape of the country. The author names on the front were, however, rather surprising: Homer, Uhland, Rabelais, Emerson, Milton, Addison, and Newton.  Uhland, Rabalais, and Addison? I’d think Longfellow, Thoreau, and Stowe may have been more apropos for the period. At least Dickens. What an interesting mix, I thought, but then didn’t think anything more about it until I ran across this fabulous explanation:

When the cornerstone for the new city hall building was designed the architect, D.S. Schureman, asked that his name be inscribed on it. City Officials refused his request. He later suggested that since the new City Hall Building would also house the public library, it would be appropriate to inscribe the cornice with names of famous writers and scientists. City Officials liked the idea and agreed to it, oblivious to the architect’s motivation for choosing such a random selection of names. After the work was completed, however, City Officials learned the method to Schureman’s madness. The first letters of the names inscribed on the frieze spell D.S. Schureman (Dante, Shakespeare, Spencer, Chaucer, Homer, Uhland, Regelais, Emerson, Milton, Addison, and Newton). [source link]

Love it. Apparently, D.S. Schureman was a man who got what he wanted.

3. Freeport Public Library
100 E Douglas Street
Freeport, IL 60132

After spending time walking around the Carnegie Library and City Hall, we drove over to check out the new library. Below are a few pictures. This library is very bright and open, but I prefer older architecture. There were many cool features inside–such as airplanes hanging from the ceiling in the children’s section and a statue of Abe Lincoln reading to his son–but patron’s faces are too clear in the photos to post here.

The new Freeport Public Library is a short drive from the Carnegie Library.
The side entrance. Monumental scale.
Walking through the doors was a surprise. You don’t walk directly into the library, but into a lobby. One of the treats inside was this cool looking cafe. Pardon the fuzziness of the picture, but I wanted to show the stained glass.


Here’s the entrance to the library.
I like these endcaps with the built-in display shelves. The only other library I’ve seen these in so far is the Guilford, CT library‘s children’s section.


Cather on the shelf.



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