The idea of a public library in Defiance, Ohio took root in 1867 when a group of "...25 men dedicated to furthering the educational and intellectual lives of Defiance's Citizens...", but the post-Civil War idea really took shape at the turn of the twentieth century when steel magnate Andrew Carnegie donated the money to build a magnificent new library at Defiance.
The library's location at the junction of the Maumee and Auglaize Rivers in northwestern Ohio, and on the historic grounds of Fort Defiance, makes it an idyllic spot for history buffs who want to wander the grounds to learn more about the area's late-1700s and early-1800s history, or a great spot for bookworms who want to enjoy time in the reading room with its picture windows overlooking the rivers.
Carnegie donated $22,000 toward the construction of the library's Tudor Revival-style building in 1904.
Architects John Wing and Marshall Mahurin of Fort Wayne, Indiana designed a library with a red sandstone facade, dark woodwork and stained-glass ceiling window that also included the afore mentioned picture windows to take advantage of the library's scenic riverside location.
Defiance citizens dedicated and officially opened the city's Carnegie Library on July 4, 1905.
The library earned a spot on the National Register of Historic Places in 1985.
The Carnegie building in the city of Defiance still serves as the library system's main branch, although the system has two additional branches in Defiance County-Johnson Memorial Library in Hicksville (built in 1939) and the Sherwood Branch Library in Sherwood (built in 1940).
The main library branch in Defiance has a few later additions, and a 2011 renovation of the old building included an overhaul of the HVAC system, a renovation done with an eye towards maintaining the historical look of the building costing $645,425.
It looked as if renovations and work on the building's infrastructure remained an ongoing process when we visited the building late last year, but the building's beautiful early-twentieth century architectural details were on full display.
It's definitely worth stopping to go inside of the building just to see the stained glass ceiling window!
Local history fans will find a lot to like at the library, and I enjoyed looking at a display of historic images from the library's collection in the sun-filled reading room during our visit here.
Check out the library's digital special collections archive that includes images from the Defiance County Yearbook Collection from the city of Defiance and surrounding communities (1906-1950), the Historic Homes of Defiance Calendar Collection (monthly calendars from 2001-present featuring pen-and-ink drawings of the area's historical homes and buildings) and the Bronson Collection (808 prints from amateur photographer Edward Bronson, active 1906-1949). I enjoyed checking out Bronson's images online, which included scenes of floods, political campaigns, parades, civic events and more.
Anyone remember seeing the 2005 "Prize Winner of Defiance Ohio" movie starring Julianne Moore and Woody Harrelson? The film, based on a book by Defiance native Terry Ryan, tells the story of her mother Evelyn who struggled to help support her family of ten children by entering contests to create commercial jingles during the 1950s and 1960s. It turns out that Evelyn had a real knack for winning the jingle contests, so it is definitely worth taking a look at the book while you're visiting the Defiance Library.
Art in the Park, an annual outdoor arts and crafts fair featuring local artisans, takes place on the library grounds each summer. The next Art in the Park event takes place on June 28, 2015.
Want to learn more about Defiance? Check out my story about the city, Defiance, Ohio: "Where friends, families and the rivers meet", at the Ohio Tourism Division's Discovering Ohio blog
© Dominique King 2015 All rights reserved