Project Update: Manitou Springs Carnegie Library

Manitou Springs Carnegie Library Moving Forward

The beautiful and dignified Manitou Springs Carnegie Library crowns a gentle hill overlooking Manitou Avenue in the center of town. It was built with philanthropic funds provided by Andrew Carnegie in 1911. But its role as a library has seen ups and downs and recent challenges, relating in part to ADA access. This prompted a group of concerned citizens to nominate it to Colorado Preservation’s Most Endangered Places in 2020. Although the nomination was well prepared, the site did not make it through the competitive process for listing in 2021. Nevertheless, the Endangered Places Program has provided guidance and support for Carnegie Library Task Force in their capacity building, outreach, and fundraising strategy development. Major progress has been made this year to rally the community around a win-win design solution developed by Ratio Architects to rehabilitate the historic library building, while adding a sensitive addition that meets the library program, including improved access.

This project serves as an example of how the Endangered Places Program can continue helping nominated projects move forward in their preservation efforts, whether or not they make it onto Colorado’s Most Endangered Places. The nomination process itself requires a certain degree of coordination and planning that often helps set the stage for ongoing community preservation efforts.

Carnegie Library Task Force has helped rally Pike’s Peak Library District, City of Manitou Springs, Manitou Springs Historic Preservation Commission, Parks and Recreation Advisory Board, and now Manitou Springs Chamber of Commerce, along with local schools and citizens, around the library preservation campaign. A capital campaign is getting underway to supplement funding provided by City of Manitou Springs and Manitou Arts, Culture and Heritage initiative, which directs a portion of sales taxes to area nonprofits. The campaign has also included bookmarks, door hangers, and outreach to schools to get the word out.

An earlier State Historical Fund grant helped restore the historic library, a beautiful classical Italian Renaissance building designed by prominent architect Thomas McLaren and constructed of light brown brick with a red-tiled roof. While much work remains to be done to finalize the design of the library addition and raise the necessary funds for construction, the community is mobilizing in an impressive way to make it happen. Updates can be found on the Carnegie Library city website and the task force Facebook page.

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