PLSJC Director Alan Hall writes a weekly column discussing library and community news, history, and other interesting subjects.
To celebrate the new Ohio Historical Marker in the yard of the Main Library, we made copies of some of the photos and documents in our files and placed them around the library for people to enjoy.
People have been fascinated with the photos, but seem equally interested in copies of the correspondence and invoices from 1900-1902 when the Main Library building was under construction.
I congratulate whoever saved all of these documents, and carefully placed them in mylar sleeves in a binder so they would be available for future generations.
The earliest letters are handwritten from early 1901, when the secretary of the library board was corresponding with Alden and Harlow, architects of the building.
Mr. W.H. McClinton, secretary, had written several letters to the architects in “Pittsburg” regarding various building issues. Pittsburgh was without its “h” during this time period.
The introductions of the letters are formatted in Victorian fashion, such as “We here with return,” and “Herewith you have an order,” and “I am in receipt of your esteemed favor.”
Issues surrounding the library construction included the need for an iron sewer line to be extended from 4th and Slack Streets to 3rd and Wells Streets to accommodate added flow; by the plumber J.W. Hartzel for $ 550.
Springer and Patterson installed “electrical wiring” at a cost of $ 485, and Baker, Smith and Co. installed the coal-fired boiler and radiators for $ 3,297 (radiators still in use today)
The stone boundary wall around the front yard was controversial at a cost exceeding $ 5,000 but changes allowed the project to be completed for $ 1,840 by Floto Brothers.
The invoices are attractive, with beautiful printing highlighting every paper. The Geo. A. Gescheider Insurance Co. provided coverage for $ 43.50 in 1902 and advertised that they also sold “steamship tickets, foreign drafts and money orders to all parts of the world.”
Christian Leist finished some painting work in the library in 1903 for $ 4.20 including the cost of the paint.
One typewriter ribbon was purchased for 75 cents from the Smith Premier Typewriter Co., whose beautiful graphics state, “The pen is mightier than the sword, but the Smith Premier Typewriter bends them both.”
Several invoices are for shipping books to the new library. Some were brought from the former City Library Association of Steubenville, and others were purchased from jobbers in Chicago, Boston, and New York City.
One lone book titled, “The Obstinate Maid” was purchased from A.C. McClurg & Co. in Chicago for 90 cents with 3 cents shipping.
A long list of books arrived from Boston via the train, and the Adams Express Company completed the delivery to the library for 70 cents. Unfortunately, “Bert” thought it was called the “Carnigia Library.”
Keeping the building clean was important according to the “barrel of soap polish” purchased from the Gibson Soap Co. of Omaha for $ 12.
Five chemical fire extinguishers were shipped on the Pennsylvania Railroad from Cleveland for a total cost of $ 62.50 payable by cash upon receipt of the goods.
The Oliver McClintock Co. of Steubenville provided 4 Leamington Rugs for the library building for $ 22 and window shades on 93 window sections for $ 67.
An itemized list from the architect dated June 6, 1902, after the building was open and operating found total bills paid to be $ 57,979.43 with the architect being paid $ 3,061.96 against Andrew Carnegie’s donation of $ 50,000.
A second check from Carnegie was requested and received for $ 12,000 allowing all bills to be paid after the rear wing of the building was deleted from plans, and the clock in the tower was eliminated.
Adding the purchase cost of the Sarratt and Stewart properties at 4th and Slack Streets for the library building, and added equipment costs, the new library cost about $ 80,000 total by the end of 1902.