ebook  History of Watertown, Wisconsin

Watertown Public Library


The Carnegie Building


100 South Water Street


Kiessling, Elmer C., Watertown Remembered, (Milwaukee) 1986, pp. 166-170.


The Saturday Club, founded in 1885, and the Euterpe Club, founded in 1896, are grace notes in Watertown literature and music.  But they were also instrumental in arousing interest in a Watertown library, since both clubs needed books and source materials to do research for the papers given in their ambitious programs.


Long before the women's clubs began to agitate for a public library, attempts had been made to provide more reading materials for Watertown readers.  Back in 1857 a Young Men's Association opened reading and debating rooms in the Watertown Bank building and subscribed to a number of domestic and foreign magazines, which were "on the table" and available to readers.  Late that year the Association took up its quarters in the larger Cole Hall and expanded its work, purchasing books and inviting outside speakers to give public lectures.  A speech by Horace Greeley on "Europe As I Saw It" was given in such a drawling tone that it prompted Editor Ballou of the Democrat to write: "A donkey could roar like a lion as easily as the renowned philosopher of the press could be an impressive and graceful speaker."  Ballou praised the first part of a lecture by Carl Schurz "until he lowered himself to the level of partisan politics" by praising the Republican Party.


Some years after the Association disbanded, most of the books it had acquired were turned over to the Northwestern College Library, which was then housed in a building nicknamed "Die Kaffeemuehle," because it resembled a huge coffee mill.  Most of the books were destroyed when the coffee mill was struck by lightning one night in July, 1894, and went up in flames.  But one, Hinton Rowan "Helper's Impending Crisis," is still on the shelves of the college library.  Its bookplate shows that it was the property of the "Watertown Library Association" and contains precise rules concerning the borrowing of books from this organization.


Books for rental could be obtained in the stores of F. Baebenroth, the bookbinder, William Buchheit, Romuwald Weis; and Stanley Clark.  The last-named opened a stationery store and circulating library with fanfare in August, 1873.  In a series of advertisements Clark announced that he would operate in all departments of literature and purchase new books to keep abreast of current fiction.  His terms were 3 cents a day for three days per book and 10 cents thereafter.  For $24 a year one could draw six books at one time.  Besides that the borrower had to deposit the complete price of each book.  The sum would be refunded when the book was returned.


Before 1900 a free public library remained in the realm of dreams and wishful thinking.  In that year Mrs. Frank E. Woodard and Mrs. George C. Lewis hit on the idea of putting on a benefit play. Mr. and Mrs. Arthur Johnson of Whitewater directed the production - Bulwer Lytton's "The Lady of Lyon" - and Mrs. George Lewis was the leading lady.  The play netted only $60 but it focused attention on the cause of establishing a Watertown library.  In May, 1902 some 25 representative citizens were invited to the home of Mr. Frank E. Woodard, Mrs. Woodard having sent out the invitations.  Here they were addressed by the secretary of the Wisconsin Free Library Commission, and Dr. J. H. Ott was asked to appoint a committee of twelve to make arrangements for a mass meeting of citizens at the Turner Opera House.  President A. F. Ernst of Northwestern College presided, and Mayor J. Brusenbach, ex-Mayor William F. Voss and Pastor, Haupert of the Moravian Church spoke in favor of the project.  The main addresses were given by F. A. Hutchins and Miss Lutie A. Stearns of the state library commission.  Then and there it was decided to raise $5, 000 in a door-to-door collection.


As usual in Watertown, the collection went over the top; the German Sixth Ward, in which Mrs. Samuel Kussel acted as captain, turning in the largest number of subscriptions.  The collection was somewhat of a course in education besides, for many people believed that a library would serve only the rich, who already had enough money to buy books.  Miss Maud R. McPherson was appointed librarian, and the library opened March 2, 1903, in a vacant store that once stood next to the Merchant's National Bank.


The new institution proved to be so popular that in a short time it outgrew its restricted quarters, and the need for a new building became obvious.  It was known that part of John W. Cole's estate would be conveyed to the city for library purposes after the death of his son and heir, Oscar Cole.  Since no other money was available, some suggested waiting for this bequest.  As it turned out, that would have meant a wait of 25 years.  It was decided instead to approach Andrew Carnegie, who made a hobby out of parting with his fortune by donating money for libraries.  Eventually he endowed more than 6,000 of them.  But Watertown's first letter to the steel king for $25,000 must have been too bold a plea for funds because Carnegie's secretary sent back a curt refusal.  James Moore and William F. Voss then sent a more tactful letter, and this time the secretary wrote that Mr. Carnegie would be glad to donate $20,000, provided that the city furnish a suitable site and agree to maintain the library.


A bone of contention now arose between the east and west sides as to the location of the new building.  The Library Board favored the east side, but the City Council, then under the control of west-siders, had its heart set on the site of the old Tremont Hotel.  After six months of wrangling the Council voted $6,666 for the site, all the law allowed, the balance, $1,334 being raised within 48 hours by private subscription, mainly on the jubilant west side.  Dedication Day, June 14, 1907, was a happy one, however, as Watertown citizens proudly viewed the classically styled structure and were assured by visiting librarians that it was a model library for the price paid and for a town this size.


The history of the library since 1907 has been one of continuous expansion.  Its affairs are managed by a Board of Commissioners appointed by the mayor with the approval of the City Council.  Dr. J. H. Ott was the first president of the Board and H. T. Eberle the first secretary.  Miss Betty Faber has been head librarian since 1940, more than half the years the new library has been in existence.  The building that seemed to be spacious when it housed a collection of only a few thousand books is now overcrowded with 57, 000 books and nearly 9, 000 pamphlets.  Cole Memorial Hall, added in 1931, provided comparatively little library space.


A sinking fund was begun several years ago, and before long the old structure will have to be replaced.  There will be no Carnegie to supply money, but Watertown has never shied away from a major improvement because of cost.  When the new library becomes a reality, it is likely to be called another "model" for a progressive town on the eve of a new century.



In the early 1850s there was a young men's association that collected a stock of books, but after a few years it languished and then disbanded.  In the '80s some of their books were turned over to the Northwestern College Library, but many of these were destroyed in the fire of July, 1894.  However, Hinton Rowen Helper's "Impending Crisis," containing a book plate of the Young Men's Association is still on the shelves of the college library. , John Henry, Ed., Jefferson County Wisconsin and its People, S. J. Clarke Publishing Co (Chicago), 1917



02 03          Young Men’s Association effort to expand their library, the only one in the city   WD



05 14       St. Bernard's Temperance Society have recently fitted up a hall in the 3d story of the building occupied by Chas. Lynch, in which they will hereafter hold their meetings.  They have established a reading room which will be open to the public every evening.  This is something that Watertown has long been in need of, and every encouragement should be given the society to sustain it.   WG



In the '90s a small fund of money, part of the profits of a lecture course, was set aside as a nucleus for a library fund.  Very few people at that time, however, thought that they would ever see or have a chance to use this library.  In fact the library made its appearance sooner than any one expected it. , John Henry, Ed., Jefferson County Wisconsin and its People


1898      Demolition of Tremont Hotel, c1898 


03 30          L. E. Stearns, the librarian of the Wisconsin Free Libraries Commission, will occupy the pulpit of the Congregational Church next Sunday evening and give an address on "The Child and His Books."  This will be in no sense a church or ecclesiastical affair, but an address by a library official, touching on the good of a free public library.  There will be no collection taken, nor will there be anything sectarian in the movement.  Miss Stearns is an interesting speaker and represents a cause worthy of th e serious attention of all our citizens.  An invitation is extended to all, regardless of of their creeds or church affiliation, to give Miss Stearns a hearing in this matter, Sunday evening.  The businessmen of the city are especially invited.    WD



In the forepart of May, 1902, some twenty to thirty representative citizens were invited to the home of Mr. Frank E. Woodard, Mrs. Woodard having sent out the invitations.  Here Mr. F. A. Hutchins, the secretary of the Wisconsin Free Library Commission, addressed the meeting, showing the benefits of a public library and urging the citizens to establish one.  Dr. J. H. Ott, having been asked to act as chairman, was requested to appoint a committee of twelve to see what might be done.  This committee made arrangements to have a public meeting of citizens on the 26th of May at the Turner Opera House.  Pres. A. F. Ernst of Northwestern College presided, and Mayor J. Brusenbach, the Reverend Haupert of the Moravian Church and ex-Mayor W. F. Voss spoke in favor of the project.  The main speakers were F. A. Hutchins and Miss L. A. Stearns, both of the library commission.  Then and there a committee of twelve was appointed, Professor Ernst and Mayor Brusenbach being authorized to choose the committee.



02 15       Effort to expand early library

04 15       Mr. Frank A. Hutchins of Free Library Commission promotes starting a Free Public Library   WDT

05 20       An Odious Distinction

A marked interest has lately manifested itself among the people of our city in the question of establishing a public library. There seems to be a growing sentiment that Watertown shall not much longer have the odious distinction of being the only city of Wisconsin with a population of 4000 or over that has no public library. The following are a few of the many benefits that results from the public library in our city:


1.  In general, it may be said that a public library, to which everybody may go to read and to get books tends more than any other institution, which it is possible to establish to lessen the unequal opportunities of life.


2.   A public library gives the best opportunity for self-education, for all who may desire it.


All intelligent people have occasion at times, to seek information on subjects in which they are particularly interested.

Our young people should be brought under all possible influences for good, and one of these influences is a public library.

An opportunity to get good reading matter will greatly aid our schools, — both public and private — in the work of instruction.

A public library would give to young and old the best recreative reading.

The best thoughts that have come to great minds, the finest utterances that have been spoken and the noblest deeds that have been performed are recorded in books; and the reading of such books cannot fail to influence the reader’s character and aspirations. 


06 14          Movement to establish a Free Public Library

The Watertown Public Library committee has issued the following address to our citizens:


We would respectfully call your attention to a movement in our city that deserves your support. It is to establish a Free Public Library. At a general mass meeting recently held at Turner Opera House the unanimous sentiments seemed to be that steps should be taken in that direction.


In accordance with the vote of the meeting, the chairman and the mayor of the city appointed a committee of twelve to devise ways, and solicit means for such a library. It is proposed to raise by subscriptions at least $5000 with which to buy the first supply of books, fit up and furnish the rooms, and provide other essentials for starting the library.


The payment of the subscriptions will be made subject to two conditions. 1 - That the total amount subscribed shall be at least $5000; 2 - That the city will agree to take charge of the library when it is ready to be started and pay for its running expenses. The subscriptions will be collected as soon as those two conditions are fulfilled. The running expenses of the library will be for rent, light and fuel, librarian salary, janitor's services and finer items. The general expense to the city will be from $1200 to $1600 annually. The taxpayer whose taxes amounts to $10 will contribute from 15 to 20 cents.


Until larger means are at our command, it is not proposed to buy or erect a library building, but to rent a few good rooms convenient in location and adapted to the purpose.   WDT



The twelve citizens, in the order of appointment, were: J. H. Ott, Julius Wiggenhorn, W. D. Sproesser, Edward Schempf, C. F. Viebahn, G. Terbrueggen, Jas. W. Moore, F. E. Woodard, H. T. Eberle, John Habhegger, William F. Voss and Carl Manz.  This committee with the aid of public-spirited women succeeded in raising $5,000 by October.  The city council looked favorably upon the project, the library all along having the wholehearted support of Mayor John Brusenbach.  The council then agreed to pay the running expenses of the library; on November 20, 1902, the board of library directors was appointed by the mayor.  They were: Wm. F. Voss, Julius Wiggenhorn, J. W. Moore, H. T. Eberle, W. D. Sproesser and J. H. Ott, C. F. Viehahn as superintendent of schools being ex-officio member.  The board secured the services of Miss Maud R. McPherson and rented the lower floor of the building at No. 104 Main Street.  The library was opened to the public on March 2, 1903.  From its very inception the library was popular, and it can truly be said that it filled a long-felt want. , John Henry, Ed., Jefferson County Wisconsin and its People


1903 interior view of Watertown Public Library at 104 E Main St [opened March 2, 1903].

Was located in the building later occupied, among others, by Quality Bake Shop.

Three years later, in 1906, the Carnegie building opened on W Main.

1903      Formal opening of library

02 24 1903

At 7:30 o'clock next Monday evening the Watertown Free Public Library, in the Werner building in Main Street, will be formally open to the public.


The president of the library commission, Professor Ott, will deliver a brief address, and it will be responded to by Mayor Brusenbach, his honor, and the full council having been invited to be present.


All our people are invited to call and inspect the library on that evening, and, of course, at any time in the future that they may wish to enjoy their privileges, they are welcome and entitled to do so.


The librarian, Miss Maude MacPherson, and her temporary assistant, Miss Mae Mathes, have all the books properly indexed, labeled, etc., for the occasion, and the building is now receiving the finishing touches.  The library will open with about 2000 volumes, and within the next six months at least 1000 more volumes will be added.


Watertown was rather slow in establishing a free public library, but now that she has started in the matter, it is safe to say that she will, after Monday next, have one of the best arranged and most up-to-date libraries in any city of this size in the state.


Great pains have been taken in the selection of books, and the library commission has been greatly assisted in this matter by Miss MacPherson, who has had much experience in the Carnegie library at Pittsburgh, one of the largest and best in the United States. 


Miss Mathes, her assistant, was sent here by the state free library commission and one-half of her expenses while here are paid by that commission.  In the course of 60 or 90 days, it is the intention of the local library board to have one or more local apprentices at the library.


1904      Sunday Hours

08 19          Librarian’s Report — Public Library.  Catalogue Department... 1048 books have been catalogued, 483 adult, 105 children’s and 450 reference. Thorough analytical work has been done in order to have all materials thoroughly available for public use. The printed cards for the children’s catalogue, used by the Carnegie library of Pittsburgh and the public library of Cleveland, have been purchased for the children’s books and should be of great value to the teachers in their school work. During the past year, 36,136 books have been circulated. Of this number 22,390 were drawn by adult readers and 13,746 by children. The average daily circulation was 117. The largest daily circulation was 239; the smallest 38.  At the close of the fiscal year, 1903, 1400 borrowers had registered. In the past year 625 readers have been added to this number, making a total of 2,025. Of this number 82 have been withdrawn as inactive, making 1,942 active cards in use. We have registered during the past year but three county subscribers. We wish we might enter into some satisfactory arrangements with the country people by which they might receive the benefit of this library and that we in turn might receive their interest and support.


09 30          On and after Sunday, October 2d, the library will be open for reading from 2 to 5 p.m. The work of keeping the library open on Sunday is done by the volunteer service of a number of citizens of the city. The board of Directors and the librarian gratefully acknowledge this kindness.


Dr. Edward Johnson has presented to the public library a copy of John Finnerty's Ireland in Pictures. It is a very creditable work, and shows in pictures many interesting scenes in Ireland, taken by Mr. Finnerty while on a visit to the green isle. Each picture is accompanied with a well-written description of the scene presented.


S. A. Hutchins, of the State Library Commission, Madison, was in the city on Tuesday and Wednesday and visited our Public Library. He complimented it very highly and believes out people should now begin to consider a public library building, and says that we should have no trouble getting Andrew Carnegie to donate a $15000 building to our city for library purposes.



06 07 1905


At the meeting of the council held Tuesday evening, the Library Board made a report as to its preferences for a site for the proposed $20,000 Carnegie library.  The board favored as a first choice what is known as the Kennedy property and city property in First Street, opposite the post office and Commercial hotel. This site was given first place by the board provided the city property was vacated. This site would cost $4000, being 60x100 feet. The second choice was the Randall corner, west Main and N. Water streets which is 66x158.


The council strongly favors the Manigold site, however, at the corner of Water and West Main streets, provided that the same can be purchased at a reasonable figure.


While the east side site may be more centrally located, it certainly is true that the Manigold place is larger, on a corner, is on Main street and the library would be far more conspicuous than at the Kennedy place.


07 11 1905


The question of a site for the public library is being agitated and there is a difference of opinion as to which site should be chosen - the Kennedy site on the eastside or the Randall site on the west side. The Library Board prefers the Kennedy and the common council at a special meeting held Friday evening expressed a preference for the Randall location corner of North Water and Main streets. It is a matter in which every inhabitant in the city is interested and there should be a full discussion as to which is the best, both central and available location. It is natural that individual interests will influence the individual choice but such interests should be made secondary to the public good in the final determination of the matter. The Library Board is composed men of good judgment, who are interested in the betterment of the city. They prefer the Kennedy site. The aldermen are also men of good judgment and have the best interests of the city at heart. The question will probably be decided at the regular meeting of the common council on the evening of the 18th, inst., when an appropriation will be made to purchase a site, or an appropriation may be refused, which would be an unfortunate termination of the matter.


07 26 1905


At the last regular meeting of the common council the annual report of the public library librarian, Miss Maud Macpherson was read. It showed that the people were readers and library a necessity. Our space will not admit of our publishing the entire report, but the following excerpt will suffice to show that the library has been well patronized:


Total number of books in the reference department June 30, 1905, 968


Total number of books in the loan department June 30, 1905, 3403


Total number of borrowers cards in force, June 30, 1905, 2464


Total circulation, 36,543


Accession department ... 658 books have been added during the year ... 557 were by purchase, 67 were gifts and 37 were periodical bound.


50 Years Ago


08 29 1905


It now looks as if our new library building had been lost in the shuffle between the library board and the common council. The Carnegie donation has not been accepted for a site agreed upon. If the building is to be erected this season work should begin at an early day, or the expense will be greatly increased, for as everybody knows it is more expensive to build in cold than it is in warm weather. Under the circumstances the library board and council should get together, decide upon a site centrally located, accept the donation and get the building up and enclosed before the old weather sets in, so that the work on the interior can be continued regardless of the cold weather.



In the forepart of 1906 overtures were made to Mr. Andrew Carnegie for a gift of $25,000, this amount being suggested by the city council.  Mr. Carnegie after some haggling on the part of his private secretary gave the city $20,000 on the usual conditions.  The only available lot on Main Street suitable for the library was the site of the old Tremont House.  The majority of the library board did not care to go so far away from the center of the city, and it is doubly unfortunate now, seeing that the new high school is on Eighth and Wisconsin streets.  But since the library board had to ask the council to pay for the site, and since the old apportionment into seven wards gave the West Side an inequitable preponderance; the board, rather than drop the project, chose the only site that would be accepted by the council.  The council voted $6,666 for the site, all that the law allowed, the balance - $1,334 - being raised by private subscription, mainly on the West Side. , John Henry, Ed., Jefferson County Wisconsin and its People


Claude and Stark of Madison drew the plans of the new library; on July 10, 1906, the contract was awarded to Stuart & Hager of Janesville, who agreed to erect the building for $16,311.  The building with fixtures and sidewalks cost nearly twenty thousand dollars.



01 16 1906


At a regular meeting of the city council last Tuesday night the library board made a unanimous report for the purchase of what is known as the Mannegold or Old Lindon House property, at the corner of West Main and Water streets as a site for the proposed Carnegie library. The library report stated that the Board had a 90 days' option on the property from Mrs. Henrietta Mannegold for the sum of $7500, and agreed to raise $1000 by popular subscription, the balance to be paid by the city by an issue of library bonds. The report was unanimously accepted by the council and a resolution unanimously passed by that body pledging the city council to purchase said site when the sum of $1000 has been placed in the city treasurer's hands by the library board for the purchase above stated.


A large portion of this $1000 has already been pledged and there will be no difficulty in raising the balance. Plans and specifications will be at once arranged for, and work on the new building will begin as soon as the weather will permit in the early spring. Under the state law, only one-third of the price of a library building can be provided for by taxation for the purchase of a site, hence the necessity of resorting to a popular subscription for an additional $1000.



02 07 1906


Library board reported that the $1,000 for building had been raised and site contracted for . . . an ordinance was introduced to issue bonds for $6,500 to pay for site . . . the acceptance of the Carnegie gift and one relating to loan brokers, junk dealers and dealers in second-hand goods.



04 24 1906


Miss Maud R. MacPherson, city librarian, has returned from Madison where she spent a day on business connected with the city library.  Miss MacPherson informs the Leader that the plans for the new city library are completed by the library commission and Architect Claud of Madison.  It is expected that the work will be commence on the new $20,000 library in time to have it completed by December 1st.



06 02 1906


Plans for the proposed new Carnegie library were received yesterday from the architects, Claude & Stark of Madison. A meeting of the library board will be held soon and proposals for bids for the construction of the building will be published. The billboards which have been an eyesore at the corner of West Main and Water streets for many years were removed yesterday and will be erected on a lot near the Junction. The new library is to occupy the site.



12 18 1906


Considering the delays in the arrival of material, Stuart & Hager, the contractors for the new Carnegie library, have made wonderful progress.  The contract calls for the completion of the building by the first of January, but in conversation with a Leader reporter yesterday Mr. Hager stated that it would be impossible to complete the structure by that time owing to the numerous delays in securing necessary material.  Observations yesterday disclosed the fact that downstairs there has been placed on the walls and ceiling the second coat of plaster and the first on the second story.  It is expected that the work of plastering will be completed by next Tuesday.  The end is in sight, although it may be two months or more before the building is ready for occupancy.  The question of the library dedication is being agitated and it is probable that in the course of a few weeks the library board will take action toward this event.  When completed, the building will be a credit to the city and one in which our citizens will take a just pride.



05 23 1907


One of the coming big events of the year will be the dedication of the new $20,000 Carnegie library at the comer of Main and Water streets, which will occur next month.  A meeting of the library board was held Tuesday evening to lay plans for the affair.  The date decided upon is Friday, June 14th, providing it is possible to secure the services of Dean E. A. Birge of the Wisconsin university to deliver the address.  The secretary is now in communication with Mr. Birge and is in hopes of securing a favorable reply in the course of a day or two.  It is the intention to have an informal reception at the library building throughout the day, with a musical and literary program at the Turner opera house in the evening, the principal number on the program to be the address by Dean Birge, providing the board is able to secure his services.


= = =           The old library was closed on June 5, 1907; the new library was opened June 14, 1907, dedicatory exercises and a reception taking place in the afternoon.  In the evening a meeting of friends of the library was held in the Turner Opera House, in which Miss L. A. Stearns and Mr. Legier, now librarian of the Chicago Public Library, were the main speakers. , John Henry, Ed., Jefferson County Wisconsin and its People


The library has been in charge of the following librarians:  Miss Maud R. MacPherson, Miss G. Ackley, Miss E. M. Smith, Miss G. Lutkemeyer, and Miss V. G. Little, the present librarian.  The library now contains about seven thousand eight hundred books and has a circulation of nearly forty thousand volumes annually. , John Henry, Ed., Jefferson County Wisconsin and its People


The library has been fortunate in receiving bequests of public-spirited citizens.  Mr. Carl Manz bequeathed $500, Mr. Charles Straw $2,000, and Mr. Michael Carroll $2,000.  According to the decision of the Supreme Court of Wisconsin the library will some day inherit valuable property under the will of Mr. John Cole. , John Henry, Ed., Jefferson County Wisconsin and its People



01 11 1907


The furniture for the new Carnegie Library was ordered Wednesday by the members of the library board and the same is expected to arrive and be ready for installing upon the completion of the building.  The contractor has assured the members of the board that he will complete his contract by the first of February, although one of the members of the board yesterday in speaking of the matter said that this seemed improbable.  He added that after the contractor had finished, there would be considerable work to perform and he expressed the opinion that it would be well along in March before things would be far enough along to hold the dedicatory exercises.


03 01 1907


The new Carnegie library is practically completed.  Only the finishing touches remain and then the permanent home of our free library will be at the service of the public bound in one of the finest structures ever erected on an appropriation of a like amount from the great philanthropist whose memory will be perpetuated for ages to come.  The process of painting, putting in the lighting fixtures and carpeting is about all that remains to be done before the receiving of the furniture and fixtures, which are expected sometime in March from the Library Bureau at Chicago.  Considerable interest is now centering in the dedicatory exercises, which will be held no later than April and possibly some time the latter part of March.  In most cities where Carnegie libraries have been built, the cost has exceeded the appropriation.  This is not the case in Watertown, however, and the members of the committee are entitled to credit for keeping within the bounds of the appropriation, $20,000, outside of the site which was appropriated by the city.



03 15          On Wednesday H. T. Eberle, secretary of the Library board, received from Andrew Carnegie a check for $5000, the last installment of the $20,000 given by Mr. Carnegie for the erection of a library in this city ...

10 19          Miss Valfrid Palmgren of the Royal Library, Stockholm, Sweden, was a guest at the Public Library yesterday.  She was accompanied by Mrs. Harriet Sawyer of the State library commission.  Miss Palmgren has been sent by the Swedish government to study library conditions in this country.  She was most favorably impressed in every respect with our building.  The Libraries visited by her in Wisconsin are Madison, Milwaukee, Oshkosh and Watertown.





07 10       Alley proposed behind library proposed as necessity when interurban is running   WG

07 10       Voss and Wiggenhorn to succeed themselves as members of the library board   WG

10 09       Finance Committee consideration of request of the board of directors   WG



01 15       Euterpe Club has donated $15.00 towards fixing up the grounds in the rear of the library building    WG

01 22       Students from state library school assigned to library    WG

01 29          Miss Maude R. Macpherson resigned; librarian since its establishment over six years ago    WG

02 12          Miss Gabriella Ackley appointed librarian, to succeed Miss Maude Macpherson, resigned    WG

02 26          Reception for Miss Maude MacPherson; members of the Saturday Club were hostesses    WG

02 26          Miss Hilgendorf, mentioned as Assistant Librarian    WG

04 09          Miss Gabriella Ackley appointed librarian    WG

04 09          Second, Third and Sixth grades classes held in library during school construction    WG

08 13          Miss Clara Hilgendorf, Asst Librarian, resigned   WG

09 17          Miss Lilian Mundt, salary of $5 per month     WG

09 24          Miss Clara Hilgendorf, Asst Librarian, married Dr. Louis H. Nowack   WG



02 11       Miss Anna Skinner began practice work; gentlemen’s room open at the noon hour   WG

04 22       F. Kalina, Charles Lutovsky, John T. Ryan-Standing Committee, Library   WG

06 03          Bids for furnishing coal   WG

09 23       Librarian’s Annual Report   WG

12 30       Christmas story hour in the club room   WG



01 26       Telephone in Public Library

A telephone has been installed in the public library, and the public is urged to "call up" the library for any library business.  Books may be renewed, non-fiction reserved and reference questions answered by telephone.  The telephone is for the use of the library staff only, in the building.  It is against the rules to allow the public to use it.  Gabriella Ackley, Librarian.   WG

02 09       Circulation at Public Library

The public library is a popular place.  The circulation for the month of January exceeded any month's circulation in the library's existence.  Sixteen hundred more books were circulated than the number of borrowers using the library.  The library owns 6,227 books, including magazines and reference books which do not circulate.  The circulation for January was seven-tenths of the number of books owned.  Two hundred new books (purchased with money from the "Private Secretary" [benefit] for the children), have brought most of the regular borrowers and many new ones to the public library.  Every child in Watertown, who has not a good library at home, should use the public library.  The case will be rare where any child can find as much at home as in the library. Parents and teachers are urged to see that the children are borrowers.  Few children drop the "library habit" when once it is formed.  On Saturday afternoons every seat in the reading room is in use, the many periodicals purchased and given being a great attraction.  The new telephone has proved its usefulness, many reference calls having come during the last three weeks.   WG

05 04       Elson Print Donation Recalled

06 22       Burn the Books    Borrowers from the public library who have contagious diseases in the family and have books from the library in their homes at this time, are requested to burn the books at once and notify the library by telephone that they have done so.  No charge will be made for the books and new cards will issued as soon as the quarantine is raised.   WG

11 16          Lamps Added

On the West Main Street entrance to the public library two fine electric lamps have just been added at an expense of several hundred dollars, the gift of a First Ward gentlemen, who does not wish his name published in connection with the affair.  The lamps are the only ones of their kind in the city and add greatly to the appearance of the library.   WG


11 16          Fountain for Library Park

The board of library commissioners wish to add a public sanitary drinking fountain to the park in the rear of the library, build a cement walk to it and a circular walk around it, as early in the spring as possible, and it is hoped some philanthropic citizen will donate the fountain before that time.  This is an improvement we know will be greatly appreciated by our people.   WG   Gazebo relocated to Riverside Park when Cole Memorial Hall was constructed on the site of Library Park in the late 1920s.


12 14          Miss Lillian Mundt resigned as assistant librarian; Miss Corinne Bartlett was appointed successor.   WG



02 08          Sanitary Drinking Fountains – On account of the Red Cross Seals sale in Watertown during the holiday season, Watertown is receiving two sanitary drinking fountains, one of which no doubt will be placed in the children's room at the public library.   WG


05 29          Sealed proposals will be received until 4 o'clock p.m., Monday, June 10, 1912, for the erection of a pavilion in the public library grounds, with a cement walk leading thereto and other cement work.  The installation of a sanitary drinking fountain with sewer and water connections, all according to plans and specifications which may be seen at the office of the secretary.  The right to reject any and all bids is reserved by the board of library directors.  – H. T. Eberle, Secretary.   WG


07 11          Sealed proposals for furnishing the public library of the city of Watertown with thirty-five tons of stove size and pea coal will be received by the secretary up to and including July 26, 1912.  H. T. Eberle, Secretary      WG


07 11          Library Board Organized.  At a regular meeting of the public library board last Tuesday evening, Julius Wiggenhorn was elected president, W. D. Sproesser, vice president, and H. T. Eberle, secretary.   WG


07 11          Annual Report of the Public Library

The Public Library has on July 1st begun its tenth fiscal year.  On March 2nd, of 1913, Watertown will have had a library for ten years.  A suitable celebration will probably be held at that time.


The following statistics show something of its usefulness to the public:

Circulation........................  48239

Borrowers the first of the year....   3117

Borrowers the end of the year......   3314

Books purchased....................    404

Books given........................    147

Books added by binding.............     27

Withdrawn and worn out.............    176

Total number of books in library..... 6741


The building has been greatly beautified by two lamps for the entrance; the same donor who gave the lamps, has given a drinking fountain and pavilion for the library park.  Plants, shrubs and ferns given by well-wishers make the library and its park attractive.


Gifts of books by individuals and subscriptions of magazines by the Saturday and Corby clubs have added much to the pleasure of the readers.  The library's subscription to periodicals, with its gifts, being very satisfactory to the public.


The number of borrowers in proportion to the population is above the average, as the borrowers' cards are live cards.  One hundred and eighty-nine (189) children borrowers have been added this year, necessitating buying an unusual number of books for youngest readers.


Several teachers in the grades, as well as in the High school have helped by suggestion and personal effort to get the children to read good books.


The Freshmen and Sophomore classes have been instructed in the use of Card Catalogues and reference books.


Because the library must be democratic to fulfill its function, it has been necessary to buy more fiction than other books; still in spite of the constant demand for fiction, it is gratifying to know that more books on non-fiction have been issued than ever before, the greatest increase being in sociology, which is subdivided in books about political science, political economy and education.  Every book purchased on these subjects has eagerly read.


Books on health and hygiene have been much in demand, as have dramas, both classic and modern.


References have been compiled for various clubs, and several "Story Hours" for children held.


The modern library endeavors to be a civic center.  The following clubs and societies have held their meetings in the Watertown Public Library:  Saturday Club, Corby Club, High School Debate Club, French Club, Drama Club, Classic Club, Anti-Tuberculosis Society, Political Equality League, Associated Charities, Jefferson County Medical Society.  Poles for the voting precinct are located at the library.


The fines collected during the year amount to $106.74.


Miss Else Wiggenhorn of Watertown and Miss Elizabeth Hayburn of Oconomowoc have each completed a six months course of apprenticeship in the library.


The greatest need the library has is a larger appropriation so that more money may be used for books as the increasing circulation means more wear and tear.  2191 books have mended, and 59 recased during the year.


Added borrowers make a larger demand than the library can at present afford.   WG


08 01          A Fine Sanitary Drinking Fountain – Thanks to one of Watertown’s benevolent citizens, a fine sanitary drinking fountain and pavilion now adorns the public library park.  The fountain contains four bubbling cups and by the pressure on a button on each cup sparkling water flows so that a nice cool drink can be obtained at all hours of the day and night.  The fountain is of bronze and a fine pavilion is erected over it.  It is certain to be one of the most popular places in the city during the warm months of the year.  The kind donor has and deserves the thanks of all our people.   WG


08 08          Industrial Exhibit.  The state industrial exhibit of safety appliances in the men's room of the public library is attracting much attention here.  It contains exhibits and photos of all the latest in safety appliances for factory machinery, ladder and scaffold protections for painters, safe-lines and belts, guards for wheels, saws, machinery, printing presses, etc.  It is well worth a few moments of any one's time to call at the library and look this exhibit over.   WG


08 15          Miss Ackley Resigns – Miss Gabriella Ackley, librarian at the public library the past three years, handed in her resignation last Tuesday evening to the Board of Library Directors, to take effect August 31st.  Miss Ackley has been a most efficient and popular librarian, in fact considered one of the very best in Wisconsin, and her decision to leave our city is regretted very much by the Library Board and our citizens in general, and all wish her success wherever she may be in the future.  She has accepted a position as librarian of one of Chicago's branch libraries at a salary of $100 per month with a gradual increase to $1500 a year.  Miss Mabel Smith of Oconto was appointed her successor last Tuesday by the library board at a salary of $60 a month.  She is a graduate of Terry Hall, the University of Wisconsin long course library school at Madison and took a special children's course at the Pittsburg, Pa., library school and has been an assistant there.  She comes to Watertown very highly recommended.   WG


11 28          SUNDAY AFTERNOONS

Beginning with Sunday, December 1, the Reading Room of the Public Library will be open every Sunday afternoon from two until five.  No books will be circulated.   WG




The Free Public Library wishes to announce that persons living along rural mail routes are entitled to the privileges of drawing books free and extends a cordial invitation to all to come to the library and make use of its many books and magazines.   WG



The Stuebe Floral Company has given the public library a fine sword fern and a Primrose plant, which add much to its attractiveness and home-like atmosphere.   WG


02 13          WHAT THE LIBRARY IS FOR

The library wants to furnish good books to every man, woman and child in this town.  Among the 6,700 volumes in the library are books for the businessman, the mother and the child; books for the laborer, the farmer, and the tradesman; books to amuse and books to inspire; books of laughter and books of tears; in fact books on almost any subject may be had for the asking.  Let the library be your information bureau..   WG




The public library will open at 9 o’clock in the morning instead of 10 o’clock as heretofore, the determination having been reached at a conference of the library board and Miss Lutemeyer, the librarian, at a recent meeting.  The library will be open continuously from the opening until 6 o'clock in the evening, and will reopen at 7 o’clock for two hours or until 9 o’clock.  The first Sunday in December was set as the date for the opening of the reading room on Sunday afternoon.  Each Sunday from December to April the library will be open in the afternoon from 2 until 5 o’clock.  The library is free and for the use of the public generally and it is the desire of the board and the librarian and assistants to make the use of the books and periodicals contained as convenient as possible. It is a very easy matter to become a patron of the library.  Adults may receive a card entitling them to draw books by signing a guarantee that they will abide by the rules of the library.  Children under sixteen years of age may secure cards by having their guarantee slip signed by some resident adult.  The present war in Europe has increased the interest of the public in books of travel and other works descriptive of foreign countries and in those magazines which carry articles dealing with the war.  The Watertown library is particularly well equipped to supply books and magazines of this kind to those interested.  And for general reading there is a host of good things on its shelves.   WG



The Euterpe Club of Watertown has helped the library purchase “The American History and Encyclopedia of Music.”  The set covers twelve volumes in all — a musical dictionary, instruments, operas, oratorios and masses, American music, foreign music, essentials, theory, musical biographies and a complete index.  The club has much use for information on all musical subjects and the use of the encyclopedia will not only be of service to the club, but to the general public as well.  Coming with the set are folios of music scores.  The separate sheets of music may be borrowed as books from the library.  The reading room will be open Thanksgiving afternoon from 2 to 5 o’clock but no books will be circulated that day.  The library is closed one day each year in order that the floors may be oiled.  This will be done next Saturday, November 28, and books due that day will be due Monday.   WG




The library now has three books which will interest the maker of moving pictures and the lover of the picture, its art, technique, etc.


Talbot—Moving Pictures. The first book to deal comprehensively and technically with the history of the photograph and the moving picture idea.  “Trick pictures” are explained and the pains and money spent to obtain interesting films.  The extent of the enterprise brought out a valuable book for the professional maker and one that is also interesting to the general public.


EsenweinWriting the photoplay.  One of the most helpful books for the student explaining the qualification of a successful writer, the essential elements of the photoplay, the sort of material needed, censured themes and how to market the photoplay script.


Sargent—Technique of the photoplay.  Explains the exact form and instructions for writing the photoplay.  Explicit in its treatment.  This is especially helpful to one who is interested in the writing of the play.    WG



The Saturday Club held the last regular meeting of the season the afternoon of April 20th.  Each member was privileged to bring a guest and the reading room of the public library was well filled by an interesting audience.  The program was commemorative of “Bird and Arbor Day” and consisted of a talk on “Our Garden at the Library” given by Mrs. Eli Fischer, who has done so much to beautify the yard back of the library building.  The latest gift to the library consists of three bird houses, two of which were made by the boys of the manual training class of the high school and the little wren house was made by Clarence Gloger of the grammar grade.  They were put in place by Mr. Eli Fischer and the Saturday Club.  The houses were dedicated to the use of the birds in a neat address given by Miss Lutkemeyer.  After the reading the ladies adjourned to the yard to inspect the houses, the flowers, the elm tree, which was planted a year ago, the shrubbery and the well-kept lawn.  Returning to the reading room, the program was continued by the reading of Eugene Fields’ beautiful selection “The Oak and the Ivy” by Miss Edna Chadwick.  Miss Herrmann told of the “Birds Seen in My Garden” their habits, their songs and many other interesting things connected with our feathered friends.  They showed pictures of nearly all the birds commonly seen here.  It was told in a delightful manner.   WG



The library interior was redecorated during the summer.  A picture cabinet for filing pictures was purchases and placed in the children’s room.  The garden at the rear of the library was attractive this year.  The people of Watertown should visit it often and get the benefit of such a beautiful place.  Many thanks are due the Outdoor Art Association for starting the garden and their present interest in it, and to Mrs. Eli Fisher who has given much time, energy and thought in keeping the garden attractive.  Thanks are also due the Saturday Club of Watertown for their donation toward the garden.  They have had a trellis placed on the south side of the Pagoda and vines have been planted.  Boys from the manual training department of the high school made some bird houses and the Saturday Club had them place in the garden.   


1920s    Frank Meschke, 1011 Vine St., was the custodian at the library in the 1920s.




          Library Park



   Florence C. Hayes, in her office, head librarian through 1940.


   Main desk, looking north to the front door (Main St entrance). 


    Miss Ruth Roberts, Librarian Assistant


   The periodicals area.


    The reading room, east side of building looking west


   Reading room, looking northwest


   Original children's area in main library, west side of the building


   View of the children's area in 1928.   Before the Cole's Hall addition in 1929--30.



Cole's Hall Addition in 1929-30.




   Main floor, taken about the time the new addition was dedicated.



    Auditorium view dates to November, 1931; taken during Book Week

    Completed Cole's Hall addition, taken in 1931. 


New Children’s Room





   Catherine and Lorraine Simon leaving after story hour


1936      Centennial parade float: “Donor of Cole Memorial Hall, Addition to Public Library”

[Cole Memorial Hall was added in 1931]












1955      The Watertown Free Public Library received an 1857 map of the city of Watertown from New Hampshire. The donor is Warren G. Bakie of Kingston, charted 1694, in that state.  When the Bakie Brothers decided to remodel the map of Watertown, Wisconsin turned up in their archives. As people in the East are extremely historically minded, Mr. Bakie wrote to the library and generously offered to send it.  Despite the fact that Watertown was settled by people from the East, a hurried search both in Kingston and in Watertown failed to disclose any one from there coming to Watertown so how the map got into the Bakie Brothers archives is a mystery.  07 26 WDT



01 19       Text books banned – A new policy which will affect high school students who use the library from 7 to 9 p.m. for study purposes.  Under the new rule and beginning with the second school semester, students will not be permitted to bring their text books into the library.  The board points out to the people of Watertown that a public library is not a high school study hall.  Too many high school students have been coming in with text books which can be studied at home, or at school and are taking up space that should be free for those who want to use library materials.   WDT








Miss Betty Faber, librarian in Watertown for 37 years until retiring last month, was honored at a dinner Sunday evening at Lindberg’s by the River.  Miss Faber was presented with several gifts including a ''custom made” golf club.  Among those participating in the program were Mayor Carl V. and Marcella Kolata, Dr. Marie Jo Kwapil, a member of the library board; Mrs. Evelyn Rose, Ray Rose who was master of ceremonies, Miss Faber, and Dr. Elmer and Esther Kiessling.   WDT




    Before the 1983/84 renovation


1981      The decision to pursue a possible remodeling and expansion program of the Watertown Public Library was made Thursday evening by members of the library board of trustees. The panel selected the architectural firm of Sample and Potter Inc. of Madison to conduct the feasibility study on costs of the renovation and expansion. In making that choice, library trustees also will request the Watertown City Council to transfer funds not to exceed $2,500 from the library building fund to cover the cost of the study. .  11 22 WDT



01 24       On a unanimous voice vote the Watertown Library Board of Trustees gave architects from Sample and Potter Inc., Madison, approval for continued study on a $1.7 million library construction program.  Although Thursday night’s plans, presented by Ross Potter and Jeff Kavanagh, were very preliminary, the pair agreed to make a final presentation at 7 p.m. Feb. 10.  The admitted purpose of that final presentation will be to solicit community support for renovation and expansion to the present library.  WDT


02 07       Presentation:  Remodeling and Expansion.  A supportive audience of about 50 city residents joined the Watertown Library Board of Trustees at the Marine Bank meeting room Wednesday evening to hear the final presentation on proposed remodeling and expansion of the local library.  Ross Potter of the architectural firm Sample and Potter of Madison, showed rough schematics of two building structures and floor plans and explained the rationale behind those plans. He explained the tour of the buildings revealed the Carnegie library constructed in 1905 is in good condition and merits adaptive reuse. Cost for that remodeling is estimated at about $24 per square foot.   WDT


04 20       A $1 million loan in 1983 for a new library would raise property taxes by 12.68 cents per $1,000 in the first year, a series of computations by Robert W. Baird and Company of Milwaukee indicates.  The study, completed at the direction of Mayor Kenneth Thiel, takes into account that the present Watertown Municipal Building will be paid in full in 1982 and also assumes an interest rate of 11 percent.  Thiel pointed out at this week’s meeting of the Watertown City Council that the tax rate would decrease by about 47 cents per $1,000 if a library loan would not be utilized, but cautioned that the actual decrease may be somewhat less because the city’s state aids may be reduced because of the lower tax rate.   WDT


07 12       Major repair projects, estimates on cost of    WDT



02 21       Durrant Architects Inc. chosen by the Library Board of Trustees to complete design work for the expansion-renovation project at the local library.  Details of the contract agreement are being worked out.  Fee paid to the architect is usually a percentage of construction costs.  Board said decision was based on a combination of responses on a questionnaire to the architects, presentations by the seven firms being considered, and visits to previous work by the businesses and reference checks.  Special consideration was given to design and engineering expertise, compatibility with the board, construction supervision and fee structures.   WDT

03 26          Expansion and renovation plan approved by board   WDT

04 18          Proposal to have the library temporarily located in the Job Service offices.   WDT

06 05          Move to temporary quarters on N Third St.   WDT

07 01          Bids for new library opened.    WDT

07 16          Library reopens in temporary quarters at 119 North Third St   WDT

09 10          Demolition of the Cole Addition

Demolition of the Cole Addition to the Watertown Public Library finally got under way this week, about one month later than originally planned.  However, that delay shouldn't require any change in the scheduled completion date of July 24, 1984, according to officials of Varvil Construction, Inc., Woodworth, general contractor.  Demolition was delayed after the discovery that asbestos was used for some insulation in the building.  This discovery started a chain of events, including the employment of a firm which specializes in removal and proper disposal of the toxic asbestos.   WDT


xx xx       First Kindergarten in America painting by William E. Unger donated to the Watertown Historical Society.



02 06       Bids for furnishings, new library    WDT

06 13       Ornamental Sheet Metal for old section of Library    WDT

08 07       Library to close on Thursdays   WDT

09 22       Under construction for more than a year, the library opens for business Monday at its new address, 100 South Water Street.  The public is invited to tour the expanded facility Sunday beginning at 1:30 p.m.  Although groundbreaking to re-opening only took about 14 months, work on improving the library began long before that.  Discussions about how to meet the increasing needs of the community for library services began may years ago and in November 1981 the library board of trustees decided renovation and expansion at the downtown site was perhaps the best avenue to pursue.  The architectural firm of Sample and Potter Inc., Madison, was hired to conduct a feasibility study.   WDT


09 23       Watertown’s new public library was dedicated “to enriching the lives of all who enter” at ceremonies Sunday afternoon.  A large crowd attended the formal ceremonies which were followed by refreshments and tours of the facilities.  The formal ceremonies consisted of brief comments from officials and setting of the date stone.  A number of items were placed in the date stone before it was set.  They included a brochure about the original library, printed in 1903, the dedication program, a brochure detailing the floor plan of the new library, directories of city officials and of the Mid-Wisconsin Federated Library System, the library’s annual report of 1983, a 1984 street map of the city, a listing of top selling books, and the library supplement of the Watertown Daily Times which was published on Friday.   WDT


11 18       Expenditure to allow library to operate six days a week   WDT



06 12       Beonda Ida Wilford will, public library named a beneficiary   WDT



03 19       The director of the Watertown Public Library has resigned, saying the city library board blamed her for the attempts of her staff to form a union.  Mary Carol Powers, Watertown's library director since April 1, 1977, sent her letter of resignation Tuesday to Mayor Kenneth Thiel, members of the library and her staff.  It reads: “With this letter, I tender my resignation as Director of the Watertown Public Library, effective June 30, 1986.  I believe the people of the City of Watertown can be justly proud of the library and library service which they have and I wish the library every continued success.”   WDT

10 21          Watertown native Maureen Hady has been appointed director of the Watertown Public Library, culminating a comprehensive job search by the city’s library board. Hady, acting Watertown library director since June, received the “unanimous” appointment from the library board Thursday night, Dennis Sotebeer, board chairman, said. Her appointment is effective Nov. 1. “The board was unanimously satisfied that Maureen possessed the better experience and credentials than the 17 other applicants,” said Sotebeer.   WDT


1987      80th anniversary

Watertown Daily Times, 06 13 1987


This week marks the 80th anniversary of the Carnegie building, the large section of the Watertown Public Library which was remodeled when the expansion of the library took place in recent years.


That library has withstood the test of time and is still one of Watertown's pieces of architecture.


Members of two Watertown Women's Clubs - the Saturday Club and the Euterpe Club, were largely responsible for the "push" that opened Watertown's first library in 1902. That building was located at 104 Main Street.


Long before 1900, however, the idea of a free public library was in the dreams and wishful thinking of many Watertown residents.  In 1857 the young men's association rented a room and opened a reading center in the old Bank of Watertown building on Main and North First streets.  So many readers came that the association moved to the top floor of the Cole building.


In 1900, Mrs. Frank Woodard, a newcomer and a Euterpe Club member, and Mrs. G. C. Lewis teamed up to help put on a play in behalf of a library.  The play was a great success and promoted a lot of interest in a library.  The $60 profit was put into a bank account.


Two years went by.  Finally a mass meeting was called and held at Turner Hall.  This meeting generated enough enthusiasm for the ladies to outline a house to house campaign for funds.  The campaign went well over the goal of $5,000.  Someone then suggested the possibility of a Carnegie library.


Carnegie turned down early requests for a library fund, but when James Moore, editor of the Watertown Gazette, and William Voss, a two-term mayor, wrote Carnegie, they received a "yes" answer, with certain conditions.


When these were met, a contribution of $20,000 would be sent.  The conditions were that the city secure a site and pass an ordinance for the annual contribution that would maintain the library. Later, enough money was left when the library was built to complete its furnishing with Carnegie funds.


The library was opened to the public for the first time on June 14, 1907.  The new building was 45 feet by 80 feet and was constructed of St. Louis brick. It had a boiler room, coal room, gentlemen's room and janitor's room on the lower level and the balance of the library needs were on the upper floor.


The successful bidder was Stewart and Hager of Janesville at a price of $16,413.


Watertown Library ‘best born’ in Wisconsin

Contributed by Jim Braughler / 02 20 1998


"The Watertown Library was the best born library in the state."


So went the quote on the 15th anniversary of the Watertown Public Library.  In just a few weeks this Watertown landmark will be celebrating a birthday; it is only fitting that the good folks of Watertown be reminded of the founding and history of this institution which has well-served its citizens.


Members of two Watertown women's clubs - the Saturday Club and the Euterpe Club - were largely responsible for the "push" that opened Watertown's first library in 1902.  Before coming to rest on its present location, the first site was at 104 Main St.  But the history, however, started long before the turn of the century.


The Young Men's Association, as early as 1857, rented a room, subscribed to foreign and domestic magazines, purchased books and opened a reading center in the old Bank of Watertown building.  So popular was the reading room that they moved the collection to the top floor of the Cole building.  When the Association disbanded, the collection was presented to Northwestern College.  At that time the people of Watertown were limited to their private collections, or book rentals from stores in town.  But the cost was prohibitive; after putting a deposit down equal to the full price of the book, patrons could then rent the selections for three cents a day and 10 cents every day afterwards.


A newcomer to town and a member of the Euterpe Club, Mrs. Frank Woodard inquired why Watertown did not have a library.  Oconto and Watertown were the only two towns over the 4,000 population without one.  The only solution to the lack of a library-lending institution was that the John Cole estate would eventually provide an endowment which was designated for a library.  But Mrs. Woodard was unwilling to wait.  Soon Mrs. G. C. Lewis joined the cause and following the presentation of the play - Lord Bulwer Lytton's "The Lady of Lyons," the fund had $60 and the library was under way.  Soon followed mass meetings, information from the state commissioner of libraries, a house-to-house campaign and the writing to Andrew Carnegie, known philanthropist and supporter of libraries.


Carnegie turned down early requests for a library fund, but finally under the writing skills of James Moore, editor of the Gazette and William Voss, a two-time Mayor of Watertown, the beginnings of a $20,000 fund (with certain conditions), soon arrived in Watertown.  Those conditions included a city-obtained site and an ordinance for annual contributions.  A plaque is still located on the outside of the original portion of the library.  But the problems were just beginning.


Location of the library was a problem.  Hassles went on for six months between the east and west side of town.  Everyone wanted the building; but the side of town that donated the most money won.  The new building was 45x80 feet, of St. Louis brick with a boiler room, coal room, gentlemen's room and janitor's room in the lower level.  Balance of library needs were located on the upper floor.  Additions to the complex have been made through the generosities of patrons, Andrew Carnegie again, finally receiving the John Cole estate and most recently the excellent new addition which wonderfully compliments the original portion.


The library has come a long way since its early days.



06 30       Public Library visitors are enjoying replicas of internationally dressed dolls with a wonderful diversity of the costumes of many nations in the main floor display case, Rebecca Schubert, grade seven at St. Henry’s School, owner of the collection, acquired the dolls over six or seven years as gifts. The dolls wear costumes of Egypt, Africa, India, Poland, United States, Scotland, Japan and others. In addition, Rebecca has a shelf of dolls dressed as Little Red Riding Hood, Heidi, Cinderella, Snow White and others. Anita McElhanon furnished items for the children’s display case, all from her various trips abroad.   WDT



08 09       Dr. Richard Stolsmark has been named president of the city library board, replacing former president Dennis Sotebeer, who was not reappointed to the panel.  Sotebeer will be replaced on the board by Dr. William Reed, who is serving his first term.  Lynn Leach and Suzanne Daugs were reappointed to their positions on the board.  Members serve three year terms.  Board members were appointed by Mayor David R. Lenz, who said he followed the recommendations of Librarian Maureen Hady.  WDT


09 12       The Watertown Library Board voted Thursday to use library endowment funds to finance the entire purchase price of a property that may be used for future expansion. The board unanimously adopted a resolution that asks for common council approval of the purchase, according to librarian Maureen Hady. The library board originally proposed spending $28,000 from the endowment fund for a down payment on the building, located at 209-211 W. Main St., and financing the remainder, about $56,000, using the city’s credit.   WDT


09 25       The Watertown Library Board has lost its opportunity to purchase the Stardust Gifts building 209-211 W. Main St., common council members learned Tuesday night.  City Attorney Robert Bender had offered, on behalf of the library board, $65,000 to the Lebanon State Bank for the property last week, but bank officials decided to accept an offer of $80,000 from a Fort Atkinson business.  Dennis Robus, bank vice president, said bank officials had wanted to give the city a chance to purchase the building, but decided to take another offer due to the city’s low offer.  “I think the bank extended good faith in dealing with the city,” he said.  “I don’t know what they (city officials) expected us to do.  We still have to protect the interests of our stockholders.”  WDT




Since moving into its spacious new facility in September 1984, the Watertown Public Library has experienced continue steady growth, both in number of patrons and in books circulated.  And even thought it has been nearly five years since the move, circulation and attendance continue to grow, setting all-time records last month.   WDT




The Watertown Library Board has hired a library official from Des Moines, Iowa, to fill the vacancy as director of the Watertown Public Library.  Lisa Hoyman, 38, will fill the position.  She will succeed Maureen Hady, who left in August to accept a position as project librarian with the State Historical Society of Wisconsin.  On Thursday, the Watertown Library Board voted to hire Hoyman after she accepted the board’s offer earlier in the week.  She will begin her new job on Dec. 3.   WDT



02 22       3M SECURITY SYSTEM

Watertown library officials are taking steps to reduce the theft of materials from the library.  A security system, similar to those found in stores and other libraries, has been installed at the front entrance of the library.  Library director Matthew Williams said the system, built by 3M, is expected to save more than its $15,000 cost in a short time.  “It should pay for itself in one year,” he said, noting that the manufacturer guarantees an 80 percent reduction in theft.  Since the library began using its computerized checkout system about two years ago, officials determined that materials valued at $30,812 are missing and presumed stolen.   WDT




Circulation of materials at Watertown Public Library dropped 4 percent in September 1999 from the same time in 1998.  Library director Matthew Williams said he did not know of a direct cause for the decline, but said the Internet may play a big part.  People may obtain information on the Internet they would ordinarily seek from the library.  While it’s easy to attribute the decline to the Internet, which is causing circulation to decline statewide, Williams said, some parts of circulation have risen.  WDT




While circulation figures at some area libraries are hovering near normal or even slightly declining, the number of patrons who visit the facilities may be on the increase.  Not everyone goes to a library for reading materials.  Nowadays, most area libraries offer free use of computers with connections to the Internet.  “Our circulation is up this month, almost 15 percent, which is unusual, but I would say on the whole circulation has been going down and Internet use is going up,” according to Watertown Public Library Director Matt Williams.  According to circulation figures from last year, the Watertown library loaned out 299,841 articles, including videocassettes, music cassettes, audio books and DVDs.  Williams reported a slight drop in circulation along with a slight drop in patron usage.   WDT




The 100th anniversary celebration of the Watertown Public Library has begun with a card collection display, but other events are being planned for the year.  Donna Kerbel, chairwoman of the library’s 100th Anniversary Committee, said the library plans to have a wall of memories submitted by patrons about their past experiences at the library, and a photography contest related to reading books.  The committee is seeking recognition for the anniversary from about 17 authors who have written classic and favorite books filling the library shelves, and at some point those greetings will be on display.  Tentative plans also call for an open house celebration in March to coincide with the same month the library opened.  WDT




The 100th anniversary celebration of the Watertown Public Library will be celebrated at an open house to be held Sunday, March 2, from 1 to 4 p.m.  The Watertown Library Anniversary Committee is planning several activities to highlight the anniversary.  The library has been serving the Watertown community since March 3, 1903.  Presentations will be given by Mayor John David, Matthew Williams, librarian, and Julaine Appling, member of the library board and officer of Friends of the Library.   WDT



07 16          Library Director HANS BAIERL announced his resignation.  WDT



09 30       Fire Department visit to Public Library at story time   WDT



05 05       Clifford Lueck, 34 years of service   WDT


06 15       Director Diane Jaroch resigns; July 9 last day; had been the director since 2007.  Served as assistant director for about a year before she was named the interim director in August of 2007.   Full text, WDT article




08 08       Library closed for two weeks; new carpeting and change of layout on second floor.  Andrew Stockwell of Y’s Way Flooring pulls up carpeting from the reference area in the second floor of the Watertown Public Library and Sheryl Christian helps other library staff members move books onto rolling shelving units brought in by Yerges Moving & Storage.  The library reopened on Monday, Aug. 22, with new carpeting throughout the building and a rearranged second floor.


12 17       OPEN SUNDAYS

Library will be open seven days a week.  Starting Jan. 8, 2012, the library will be open on Sundays from noon to 4 p.m., with the exception of the Sundays between Memorial Day and Labor Day.  WDT article


12 30       E-readers cause spike in library e-book downloads.  WDT article






  Common Council proceedings of 12 17 2013:  RES. #7982, approving and authorizing the acquisition of property located at 209-211 W. Main Street for the expansion of the Watertown Library was presented.  Sponsor: Mayor David. From: The Finance Committee and Library Board. Alderperson Zgonc moved for the adoption of this resolution, seconded by Alderperson Smith and carried on a roll call vote. Yes – 8. No – 0.




Council Proceedings:  John Ebert, Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Library, spoke.  Along with him were Peg Checkai and Erin O’Neil.  John was present to give the Council an update regarding the status of the Library Expansion Project.  The building at 209-211 W. Main Street was recently purchased for $155,000.00.  The next milestone that has occurred is that an architect has been engaged to do conceptual plans.  Studio GC was selected out of four.  The first phase will be approximately a four to six week period where the building will be prepped for demolition, along with asbestos abatement.  Once preliminary plans are received from an architect they would like to make a presentation to the Council.  The board will be doing a Feasibility Study regarding raising private funds.  Their hope is that this would be a 50/50 contribution, 50% private, 50% government.  Common Council Proceedings of 07 15 2014.




   Demolition of 209-211 West Main. 






   225 Arcade Location



“A great library builds a great community!”


Decisions will soon be made regarding the redevelopment of our downtown. The last expansion project at the Watertown Public Library was in 1983, 32 years ago. Imagine how your lives have changed in 32 years. Computers were a rarity and the Internet wasn’t even heard of at the time. Fast forward to 2015 and you realize that our public library is still equipped for 1983 library services. We would like to change that with an expansion and update of the current facility.


Our vision for the future of the library begins with the belief that great libraries build great communities. We believe an expanded library, to include the historic Carnegie library in downtown Watertown, will be an extremely valuable community asset. It will be a gathering place, a community living room, if you will, where people will learn, create and enjoy local art, culture and social interaction. Current statistics show that over 550 people a day visit the library. Minimally, foot traffic to the library is expected to increase by 30 percent with the proposed expansion. With this substantial increase in pedestrian traffic we believe the library expansion will act as a catalyst for further downtown redevelopment.


We envision our library as a center of education for all community members from preschoolers to senior citizens. Our library will be more than books. We will continue to provide access to information using the most up-to-date technologies, educational classes and programs, a business center, outreach efforts and adequate space for both individual and group study. We will build on our heritage as the home of America’s first kindergarten to educate and entertain our children along with their families to build stronger family and community ties.


We also envision the library as a cultural center for Watertown with an art gallery, a local history and genealogy section, and a multipurpose community room capable of hosting local theatrical productions as well as various speakers, lecture series and other performances and gatherings. We are a proven downtown destination point for Watertown and surrounding communities.


We plan to provide meeting rooms, spaces and classes where community members can collaborate and create cultural treasures. We also envision adequate parking, green space and streetscape to provide a beautiful and natural setting for what can become a cultural jewel for the city of Watertown, its citizens and surrounding communities. We think our plans fit well with the Watertown Downtown Redevelopment Initiative as prepared by Redevelopment Resources that was presented to the city council in October 2014. We would like to be the first transformative project that will forever change the landscape of downtown Watertown.


The library expansion project is ready to move to the next step. Library trustees have once again devoted considerable library resources into strategic planning, a needs assessment, a pre-feasibility study and architectural drawings to help showcase the vision of a modern 21st century library and to determine building costs. Based on our architectural renderings several properties along Main Street still need to be purchased. Library trustees have voted to move forward with a feasibility study but we also need the support of the city council to effectively reach out to potential donors in our community.


We are excited about the expansion plans and the contributions a project of this magnitude will bring to Watertown. The vision is transformative. However, please also contemplate the future of the library if this project must wait years before it is implemented. There is the adage, “Never judge a book by its cover,” but in reality many people do make judgments based on appearances. One of the jewels of the downtown landscape, the 1907 Carnegie building, is a gateway structure for the downtown corridor. This majestic building, however, shows significant signs of aging, stress and disrepair. Crumbling masonry and peeling paint are evident on the outside of the building. The exposed west side of the Carnegie building was not finished with the same attention to detail as the other sides. Substandard workmanship, poor quality bricks with holes in the masonry are evident to people walking or driving by. Deterioration of the outside façade will continue without timely intervention.


Inside, building amenities struggle to serve a community of this size. Most disappointing is the lack of compliance with current ADA standards. The public library should be a welcoming resource for everyone in the community yet our current building presents barriers for community members who live with mobility issues. Access to the building, public restrooms, crowded interior spaces and inadequate meeting rooms contribute to an environment that creates limitations for library patrons.


Our HVAC is antiquated. The system heats and cools the building unevenly, is unreliable, expensive to maintain, and in 2014 heating and cooling costs were $35,000. These costs will continue to rise as the boiler and HVAC systems age and energy costs rise.


Library staff make the best of library space that was designed to accommodate library services 32 years ago. We did not have computers or the Internet and libraries were not wired for 21st century technologies. Our wiring infrastructure is pieced together with over 30 years of technology additions to this building. Technology is essential to library services and fundamental to remaining relevant to our community. Postponing improvements to the library will impact our ability to provide important technology instruction and cutting edge technologies.


We do not have adequate space for a number of situations including: a parent and child sitting together in the children’s room, a small group working together without disrupting other library patrons and a home-schooling family wanting space to work on a project together. Also, hosting a summer library event for children at the library and encouraging children to visit the Children’s Room to learn more about the subject matter after the program ends is difficult when we have to take these programs off-site due to the large participation numbers. Inadequate meeting rooms, with maximum room capacities for 37 people, compromise the quality of services we provide.


The parking lot adjacent to the library is a valuable resource but parking is confusing and the gravel surface is dangerous for pedestrians. While popular with library patrons for convenience, the parking lot surface will continue to deteriorate and become an eyesore in the downtown.


When decisions are being made about future transformative projects for the downtown, please consider the positive aspects of doing so along with the negative impacts associated with delaying the library expansion. We hope you also support the idea that “A great library builds a great community!”



The library received an anonymous generous donation to have the 1907 grandfather clock restored to working order.  The restoration work of the 93 inch tall mahogany antique clock was done by Les Martin of New Berlin.  His expertise work included having a part fabricated by a locksmith from Indiana.  The grandfather clock was presented to the library by the Saturday Club in 1907.  The clock now chimes at every hour and half hour.



Sharry Lueck, the circulation manager, is retiring after working there for 35 years and Donna Kerbel, a children’s room library assistant, is retiring after 33 years.



  Image Portfolio  


Library occupies site of former Tremont Hotel

1907 Construction of Library

Library, Early Postcard

Library, Early Postcard

Library, Early Postcard

Library, Early Postcard

Library, Early Postcard

Library, Early Postcard


Library Park, Postcard

Library Park, Postcard

Same as WHS_002_PC_309





Miss Claire Herrmann, member of the library staff

Ruth Wilkowski, member of staff

I Love My Local Library video clip





Table of Contents 

History of Watertown, Wisconsin