St. Marys Library
St. Marys Public Library
St. Marys Carnegie Library
15 Church Street North
Links and documents
1904/01/01 to 1905/01/01
Listed on the Canadian Register:
Statement of Significance
Description of Historic Place
The St. Marys Library is located at 15 Church Street North, beside the St. Marys Town Hall, north of the corner of Church Street North and Queen Street East, in downtown St. Marys. The two-storey rough-cut limestone library and a rough-cut limestone wall were constructed from 1904 to 1905.
The property was designated, by the Town of St. Marys in 1981, for its architectural value or interest, under Part IV of the Ontario Heritage Act (By-law 56-1981).
The St. Marys Public Library is situated in a prominent downtown location. It is surrounded by a wall built of the same limestone as the library, which delineates the building from the street and creates a cohesive property. Its close proximity and identical construction materials, to the adjacent Town Hall, constructed in 1893, contributes significantly to the strong heritage identity of the downtown area.
The St. Marys Library is significant for its association with American industrialist and philanthropist Andrew Carnegie. Prior to the construction of the building the St. Marys Library possessed 3,000 books but did not have a proper place of operation. Carnegie provided St. Marys with funding in the amount of $10,000 for the construction of a library, which was built between 1904 and 1905. Carnegie had a life-long interest in the establishment of free libraries as a means to self education, and provided funds for a total of 2,509 libraries, 125 of which were in Ontario. The St. Marys donation was not without controversy though, as some townspeople did not agree with Carnegie's business practices. However, when put to a vote, the Town decided to proceed with the grant money and build the library.
The St. Marys Library is a representative example of a Carnegie library, as it followed the accepted Greek Temple plan typical of such buildings. Designed by local architect J. A. Humphris and built by local stonemason Robert Clyde, the rough-cut limestone library exhibits symmetry, a low-hip roof and a projecting portico with a pediment at the main entrance. Other elements incorporated into the design are the Corinthian order columns and the decorative finial atop the portico, also characteristic of the Greek Temple style.
Sources: Town of St. Marys, By-law 56-1981; Reasons for Designation, 1981.
Character defining elements that contribute to the heritage value of the St. Marys Library include its:
- situation in downtown St. Marys, adjacent to the Town Hall
- rough-cut limestone wall surrounding the property
- engraving “Public Library”, and “A.D. 1904” on the pediment of the portico
- two-storey rough-cut limestone construction
- symmetrical plan
- low-hip roof
- pediment over the portico
- rounded corbels which outline the pediment and the cornice
- Corinthian order columns
- decorative capitals
Local Governments (ON)
Ontario Heritage Act
Municipal Heritage Designation (Part IV)
Theme - Category and Type
- Building Social and Community Life
- Education and Social Well-Being
Function - Category and Type
Architect / Designer
Location of Supporting Documentation
Town of St. Marys
P.O. Box 998
175 Queen Street East
St. Marys, Ontario
Cross-Reference to Collection