Carnegie Library, Brantford
Brantford Public Library
73 George Street
Links and documents
1902/01/01 to 1904/01/01
Listed on the Canadian Register:
Statement of Significance
Description of Historic Place
The Carnegie Library, located at 73 George Street is situated at the northeast corner of George and Darling Streets in the City of Brantford. This one-and-a-half-storey red brick Carnegie building was designed in the Beaux Arts style by architects Stewart, Stewart and Taylor and was constructed between 1902 and 1904.
The property was designated by the City of Brantford for its heritage value under Part IV of the Ontario Heritage Act (By-law 136-78).
Located within the main square of downtown Brantford, the Carnegie Library's use of Ionic pillars, bracketing, tight rows of deep windows and brick creates a harmonious relationship with the surrounding buildings. The monumental sense of the main entrance contributes to the formal feel of the area, while the overall scale of the building helps to maintain a visual continuity across the Square. Just like the Courthouse and the City Hall, the Library is arranged on a horizontal axis to the park. Its orientation maintains the continuity of views and the formality and integrity of the Square's design.
The Carnegie Library is significant for its association with Andrew Carnegie, an American industrialist and philanthropist. Carnegie had a life-long interest in the establishment of free libraries as a means for self education, and provided funds for a total of 2,509 libraries, 125 of which were in Canada. In 1902, upon request by officials of the City of Brantford, Mr. Carnegie donated $30,000 towards the creation of a building that would house the Brantford Public Library. Typically the Carnegie Foundation gave grants of $5,000-$10,000, therefore the donation of $30,000 was quite significant. In 1913, the need for an enlarged stack room and basement was evident, and once again the Carnegie Foundation donated $13,000 of the $15,000 required to make the renovation possible. It is considered to be one of the few remaining Carnegie libraries of such size and expense in Canada.
In classic Carnegie Library fashion, the Beaux Arts style of the building is evident through the many distinct architectural elements. These elements include the long, hipped roof with a large portico supported by cement Ionic columns. A dome above the portico completes and greatly enhances the Beaux Arts style. An embossed Latin verse located above the main entrance, translates to: “I have erected a monument more lasting than bronze”.
Sources: City of Brantford, Designated Property Information, 2004; City of Brantford, Reasons for the Designation of the Brantford Public Library Building at 73 George Street, 1978; Brantford Public Library, History of the Brantford Public Library.
Character defining elements that contribute to the heritage value of the Carnegie Library include its:
- architecturally harmonious relationship created between the Library and the rest of the Square
- monumentality of the main entrance, consistent with the formal feel of the square
- scale which maintains a visual continuity from building to building
- position on an axis horizontal to the park, which maintains the continuity of views and the formality and integrity of the Square's design.
- incorporation of features that greatly enhance the Beaux Arts tradition
- long hipped roof with large portico supported by cement Ionic columns
- dome above the portico
- tight rows of deep windows
- inscriptions of famous English authors on the first storey window pediments
Local Governments (ON)
Ontario Heritage Act
Municipal Heritage Designation (Part IV)
1913/01/01 to 1913/01/01
Theme - Category and Type
- Building Social and Community Life
- Education and Social Well-Being
Function - Category and Type
- Post-Secondary Institution
Architect / Designer
Stewart, Stewart and Taylor
Location of Supporting Documentation
City of Brantford
100 Wellington Square,
Cross-Reference to Collection