Description of Historic Place
The Fergus Public Library is located at 190 St. Andrew Street West, at the south corner of the intersection of St. Andrew and St. Patrick Streets, in the former Town of Fergus, in the Township of Centre Wellington. The two-storey stone-clad Carnegie Library was designed in the Beaux Arts style, by architect Walter Mahoney and was constructed in 1911.
The property was designated, for its historic and architectural value, by the former Town of Fergus, under Part IV of the Ontario Heritage Act (By-law 98-082).
The Fergus Public Library, though small, has a commanding presence that contributes to the quality and feel of St. Andrew Street West. In addition, it is connected by a bridge to the former municipal offices building, which is also designated for its heritage significance.
The Fergus Public Library is associated with American industrialist and philanthropist Andrew Carnegie. He provided the Town of Fergus with a $6,000 grant to be used towards the establishment and construction of a free library. Carnegie had a life-long interest in the establishment of free libraries, as a means to self-education, and he provided funds for a total of 2,509 libraries, 125 of which were in Canada. The Fergus Library is one of 79 Carnegie libraries in Ontario, that is still functioning.
The Fergus Public Library also has strong ties to the townspeople. The original library was founded in 1837 and is considered to be one of the oldest in the Province of Ontario. From its inception, as a small collection in the room of the original founder Alexander D. Fordyce's home, to its current location, the library has always been something to which the citizens of Fergus have been committed. The building and service, for which so many worked hard to establish, is still thriving and is a testament to the drive and determination of the community.
The Fergus Public Library was designed in the Beaux Arts style, which was typical of Carnegie Libraries. The Fergus Library demonstrates symmetry and classical detailing, including columned porticos and the arrangement of the windows. The plan for the Fergus Library was referred to the architects of the Mount Forest, Walkerton and Grand Valley Carnegie libraries, as the Carnegie Corporation considered the Fergus Library to be, “the best that can be done with a square building”. In addition to being a building of exemplary design, it is also one of few Carnegie libraries constructed of stone. Though the addition to the library made in 1987 does not keep with the original style, it does not diminish the building's value.
Source: Town of Fergus, By-law 98-082; Fergus Public Library Board, Fergus public library has given 122 years of service News Express, Fergus library, Wednesday, December 31, 1986.
Character defining elements that contribute to the heritage value of the Fergus Library include its:
- small footprint
- stone construction
- classical detailing and symmetry, reflective of the Beaux Arts style
- two flights of steps to the arched front entrance, which is flanked by two truncated modified Doric columns sitting on heavily rusticated stone pedestals
- arches above the second floor windows constructed of heavily rusticated stone
- walls constructed of finely tooled stone laid in courses
- false pediment on the roof with elliptical window in the spandrel
- double-hung first floor windows with rectangular fan lights
- commanding presence which greatly contributes to the quality of St. Andrew Street West
- proximity to the municipal office building, another designated heritage property, connected by a bridge constructed in 1987
- continuous use as a public library