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Building the Library


In 1890 a library was opened in the basement of North High School at 18th and Emerson Avenue. Soon the high school needed the space for other purposes, so the North Branch Library was built in 1894.

The building originally cost $10,000 to build, which by today’s standards would be approximately $11.1 million. The community raised one-fifth of this themselves, through a door-to-door campaign and collection boxes at businesses.

The library was built just four years after the first downtown library, which was razed in 2002.

This land was donated by Samuel Gale, an affluent city leader, who owned much of the nearby property. He was a close associate of the Walkers of Walker Art Center and the Pillsburys. His daughter, in fact, married John Pillsbury’s son.

Today, there are three distinct sections of the library. The West section is the original footprint of the library, which rose three stories. The Phillips room (middle section) occupies a 1914 addition. The third section was the bookmobile garage (which now houses our three training rooms on the lower level), added in the 1950s.


EMERGE Community Development  |  1834 Emerson Avenue North  |  Minneapolis, MN 55411

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