Auburn's Library Celebrates 100 Years

By Eric Olson

June 18, 2010 Updated Jan 22, 2010 at 3:49 PM EST

AUBURN, Indiana (Indiana's NewsCenter)--FROM ITS BIRTH AUBURN INDIANA HAS BEEN A VERY PROUD TOWN…AND FOR MUCH OF ITS LIFE A VERY RICH ONE, THANKS TO THE SEVEN AUTOMOBILE MANUFACTURERS THAT ONCE THRIVED THERE. AND ON ONE OCCASION A HUNDRED YEARS AGO, AUBURN’S PRIDE AND WEALTH JOINED FORCES…AND TOLD THE WORLDS’ RICHEST MAN WHERE TO GO. AT THE TURN OF THE LAST CENTURY AMERICAN STEEL MAGNATE AND BILLIONAIRE ANDREW CARNEGIE WAS BUILDING LIBRARIES, THOUSANDS OF THEM, IN LITTLE TOWNS ACROSS AMERICA AND GIVING THEM TO THE TOWNS..FREE AND CLEAR. IN 1909 HE OFFERED AUBURNITES 25-HUNDRED DOLLARS TO BUILD A CARNEGIE LIBRARY IN AUBURN. BUT TOWN LEADER CHARLES EKHART, FOUNDER OF THE AUBURN AUTOMOBILE COMPANY..SAID NO,

John: Mr. Ekhart didn’t think that that was appropriate for Auburn that Auburn needed a better library than that, so he says I’ll build it myself.

AND HE DID. THE CORNERSTONE WAS SET MAY 13TH 1910 BY INDIANA GOVERNOR AND FUTURE VICE PRESIDENT THOMAS MARSHALL. CHARLES EKHART OVERSAW THE ENTIRE PROJECT, FROM ARCHITECTURAL STYLE TO WINDOWS AND FURNISHINGS…EVEN THE CONCRETE MIX. THE COST, 140-THOUSAND DOLLARS, TWELVE TIMES THE AMOUNT CARNEGIE HAD OFFERED TO SPEND. AND THE RESULT IS ARGUABLY THE MOST BEAUTIFUL PUBLIC BUILDING IN NORTHEAST INDIANA. THE EKHART LIBRARY IS A MASTERPIECE OF PRAIRIE SCHOOL DESIGN ON THE OUTSIDE…ARTS AND CRAFTS STYLE ON THE INSIDE.

Barb: I you have visitors in town you do indeed bring them here. If they’re newly moved to the community this is the first place you bring them to say you’re gonna want to get to know this place.

EKHART WANTED THE TOWN’S CHILDREN TO HAVE ACCESS TO BOOKS AND LEARNING THAT HE LACKED GROWING UP. HIS GIFT TO THEM AND SUCCEEDING GENERATIONS WAS THE GIFT OF KNOWLEDGE…ALMOST BIBLICAL IN NATURE…AND THIS YEAR AUBURN CELEBRATES THE 100TH BIRTHDAY OF ITS BEST, CLASSIEST CITIZEN. ERIC OLSON OUT IN YOUR COUNTRY.




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