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Mason County Memories

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HISTORY COLUMNS

History Columns are arranged by year of publication in the Ludington Daily News

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david k petersen

The early part of the last century was a time of change for Ludington as well as the rest of the Country. Economically things are always in flux, whether we want to believe it or not. New changes, new technologies, people, their careers, lives, and futures often seem thrown to the winds of change. The Ludington [do I dare bring it up] on the Lake promotion was in full swing. In the 1905 city directory we had 1 rag collector, 2 wagon makers, 3 salt companies, 4 Millinery Shops, 5 shoe stores, 6 Blacksmiths working in the city of Ludington, 7 Hardware Stores, 8 candy stores, 9 Barber Shops, 10 Tailors, 11 grocery Stores, 12 Meat Markets. There were the services and the products people needed, and Ludington was the center of commerce to meet the needs of the people. Their jobs and the businesses they owned drew them into the city to conduct their business. The above mentioned 78 professions and businesses operating in the city in 1905 are just a partial list of the everyday commerce that was taking place. The tailor R Lessard bought candy for his kids next door at the Kandy Kitchen, the Blacksmith picked up a roast at Petersen's meat market, the farmer brought in his wagon to the repair shop and picked up supplies at Goodsell's hardware store and maybe traded eggs to George Tripp the grocer. It was a community connected and intertwined, symbiotic, their prosperity was dependent on each other. By all accounts it seemed like a prosperous and positive time. Even though the winds of change would alter the livelihoods of many people as we moved from horse and buggy to the horseless buggy new business was always in the wings it seems to pick up the pieces and move forward. It was during these times that Ludington was looking forward building up its community, public works and public institutions. Ludington was growing up. A new Opera House was in the works, the Stearns hotel, a Hospital and of course the Library which is celebrating it's centennial in March of 2006 was being planned and constructed. Having a Library in Ludington was not a new endeavor. There had been a library as early as 1872 but all of the books and furnishings were lost in the fire of 1881. Now it was 1905 and a Carnegie Grant of 15,000.00 and matching funds from the City of Ludington were put forth to build and support a grand new library in this bright beginning to a new century. Ludington received one of the 53 grants given to Michigan communities from Andrew Carnegie, the Scottish born American Industrialist who put forth grants that would cover the cost of the construction of Libraries that were open free to the public. Andrew Carnegie believed that the rich were merely trustees of their wealth and he upheld his belief and spent the remaining years of his life after retirement distributing much of his vast fortune. Over 41 million dollars were given in grants to communities to erect 1,689 libraries in the United States alone. The world was the beneficiary of his generosity as over 800 libraries were built in other countries. The first library however was founded in the town of his birth, Dunfermline, Scotland, on July 27, 1881. The conditions at first were simple, Carnegie would provide the funds for the erection of the building [usually equal to about two dollars per resident] and the local government would provide the building lot and an amount equal to 10 percent of the grant annually from tax revenues to support the library. In the February 8th 1905 Ludington Chronicle the minutes of the City Council show that the Plans for the new Library were accepted. As reported " The style of the building is of the square colonial architecture combined with Romanesque arched windows and doors." The building was to be built of monolithic concrete, 6 bids were received and builder John Anderson received the contract for a low bid of $11,380.33. Our two illustrations show the library circa 1906 and later about 1930 covered with ivy. The Library is looking for memorabilia, photographs, postcards, old library cards, other graphics, illustrations [overdue books?] basically anything and everything related to the library, the librarians, and history that they may use and display during this centennial year of their celebration. The postcards that are known of the Library are quite limited, so real photo postcards, and photographs of the library are somewhat rare. So pull out that old album and stop by the Library let's help them put together an outstanding documentary of the history of our Carnegie Library in their centennial year.

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