A Carnegie Library
The Louisiana Public Library was one of the first ten Carnegie Libraries erected in the State of Missouri. Miss Anne Draper was the first to advocate for Louisiana to have a public library in 1903. She and her sister Eliza owned A.H. & E.C. Draper at the southeast corner of Third and Georgia streets in the 1870s. Their store sold books & stationery as well as serving as a news depot. She felt so strongly that a public library was necessary that she sought out other kindred spirits like William P. Stark, Isadore Michael , and A.J. Murphy, Sr. The group’s first thought was to rent a single room and keep a modest collection of books for use by the public. Before these plans came to fruition Mr. Murphy heard about the industrialist Andrew Carnegie, who made his millions in the steel industry, providing money to communities to build libraries. Mr. Murphy wrote Mr. Carnegie about Louisiana’s desire to build a library. Mr. Carnegie was quick to reply that he would provide $10,000 if the group would provide a building site, name a board of directors and pass a maintenance tax to insure the library’s upkeep.
Six sites were identified as possibilities for the new library. The site decision was put to a vote of the citizens with the understanding that should their choice win they would have to pay $1 per vote they cast with the proceeds going to purchase the chosen site. One of the proposed sites was the corner of Third and Tennessee streets. In 1904, a livery stable stood there in what was then becoming a fashionable place to live. Jumping at the chance to rid themselves of the stable and the associated smell the residents of the area cast 3,100 votes for that site to be the location of the new Library. The $3,100 raised was just enough to entice the stable owner Mrs. Mary A. Glenn to sell out.
January 12, 1904, the new library board was quick to contract with Edward Ward of St. Louis for $9,200 for the building without furnishings or heating equipment. Louisiana sub-contractors were chosen to for stone and concrete work – Robert Reed; brick work – William English; plumbing & heating – Caldwell Bros. and plastering J.R. Claiborne. March 23, 1904 excavation started and May 4, 1904 the cornerstone was laid with grand ceremony. The Parks band led the marching Masons from their lodge to the site. Miss Draper had the honor of placing the metal box containing documents and papers in the cornerstone. The library officially opened on January 15, 1905 with it’s dedication on Washington’s birthday February 22, 1905. The first librarian was Miss Draper. Her first assistant was Miss Elizabeth Irwin; second assist was Miss Elizabeth Anderson. Miss Draper was also appointed to the first board of directors as it’s vice president.