Built in 1917, the Mount Pleasant Carnegie Library is significant as one of the sixteen remaining Carnegie libraries of the twenty-three built in Utah. Thirteen of the sixteen library buildings maintain their original integrity and are included in the Carnegie Library Thematic Resource Nomination. In addition to making significant contributions to public education in their respective communities, these libraries are Utah’s representatives of the important nation-wide Carnegie library program, and they document its unparalleled effect in the establishment of community-supported, free public libraries in Utah. The Mount Pleasant Carnegie Library is also architecturally significant as an excellent example of the local expression of the Prairie Style in Utah, a distillation of the style made popular in the Chicago area. It is one of only three Carnegie libraries in the state designed in that style, and is one of the best of less than twenty well preserved examples of the style in the state.
The Mount Pleasant Carnegie Library was built in 1917 with a $10,000 grant from millionaire/philanthropist Andrew Carnegie. Carnegie funded the construction of over 1,650 library buildings in the U.S., 23 of which were built in Utah communities. The conditions upon which all Carnegie grants were given were that the recipient community donate the building site and provide an annual maintenance budget of at least 10% of the grant amount.
This building is the first and only building constructed specifically for library use in Mount Pleasant, although a library program had been started in the town about five years previous to the construction of the Carnegie library. Around 1912, the Home Culture and Twentieth Century ladies’ clubs organized a small library which consisted of about 50 privately donated books and a small traveling collection. The old Armory (Hansen) Hall (apparently demolished) served as the home of the library until about 1915, when it was combined with the public school library and relocated in a room in the Hamilton School Building (demolished). By that time the number of books had increased to over 1000. Soon after the formation of the combined library, a committee was appointed to petition Andrew Carnegie for a $10,000 library grant for the city. Land for the building was donated by the local organization of the LDS Church, and a library tax proposal to provide the $1,000 annual maintenance fee was approved by a three to one majority in a special election. The building was designed by the architectural firm of Ware & Treganza and was built by Bent R. Hansen, August Larsen and John Stansfield, local builders and contractors. The library building was dedicated on February 15, 1917.
The Mount Pleasant Carnegie Library is one of the important works of the Salt Lake City based architectural firm Ware & Tragenza, one of the most prolific and successful architectural firms in Utah during the first two decades of the twentieth century. Although best known for their residential designs, they also designed numerous commercial and institutional buildings in Salt Lake City and throughout the state. Ware and Tragenza designed at least three other Carnegie library buildings in Utah, including those in Lehi, Springville and American Fork. The styling of each of their Carnegie libraries was different and the Mount Pleasant Carnegie Library is the only one they designed in the Prairie Style.
Description of Physical Appearance and Significant Architectural Features
The Mount Pleasant Carnegie Library, like a majority of the Carnegie libraries built in Utah, is a one story rectangular building with a raised basement. It is distinctive, however, in that it is one of three Carnegie libraries designed in the Prairie Style which has survived to the present. Classical Revival decorative schemes and variants of them seem to have been the preferred stylistic choice for the small town library. Typical of the Prairie Style as it was commonly used in small public buildings in small towns is the low massing and raised basement,
the banding of the windows, the low pitch hip roof with a wide overhang, the concrete band three quarters of the way up the walls, and the geometric decorative Elements.
The Mount Pleasant Carnegie Library varies from all of the other Carnegie libraries in Utah, with the exception of the Chapman Branch Library in Salt Lake City, because its door is not centered on the facade. Typical of the Prairie Style, access to the interior is not direct, but is gained by entering through the sides of the bay which projects from the center of the facade. Flat roof hoods supported by thin brick piers accentuate the entrances. The bay divides the facade into thirds, each having three long rectangular windows topped by small square windows.
The Mullions between windows on all sides of the building terminate in capital-like elements at the cornice. Particularly distinctive are the inset tile geometric decorative elements that are symmetrically arranged on the building below the concrete band that divides the long window segments from the short window segments.