64 S. Main St. | National or State Registers Record | Wisconsin Historical Society

National or State Registers Record

64 S. Main St.

National or State Register of Historic Places
64 S. Main St. | National or State Registers Record | Wisconsin Historical Society
Historic Name:Janesville Public Library
Reference Number:81000057
Location (Address):64 S. Main St.
Janesville Public Library
64 South Main Street, Janesville, Rock County
Architect: John T.W. Jennings
Date of Construction: 1902

The Janesville Public Library was one of Wisconsin¿s first Carnegie funded libraries. F.S. Eldred, a prominent local merchant and manufacturer, also supported the library with a bequest in memory of his daughter. The distinguished NeoClassical building was designed by New York native John T.W. Jennings.

The two-story structure evokes a sense of dignity and grandeur appropriate to a public building of this size. The formal approach gives way to a monumental front entrance portico. The portico consists of a decorative pediment and frieze that rest on Ionic columns. A fanlight window framed with stone Ionic pilasters and a keystone is centered in the portico and flanked by large windows with starburst muntins. The starburst motif is repeated in the wood railings that join the pedestals of the colonnade. Other unique details include a carved datestone in the pediment, the building name carved in the frieze, and two stone panels that read ¿Free to the People¿ and ¿Eldred Memorial.¿

The main level is a typical library layout with a central desk and reading rooms to either side. An open staircase rises to the next level where the assembly hall and museum space are located. An auditorium was completed in 1932 as a home to the Janesville Little Theatre, the oldest, self-supporting, continuously operating community theater in Wisconsin. Many other social and cultural organizations made use of the auditorium as well, including the Apollo Club.

The building has served as a senior citizens center since 1968. It also houses offices of the Janesville Department of Recreation and the Janesville Little Theatre. It is open during regular hours.

Period of Significance:1900-1924
Area of Significance:Architecture
Area of Significance:Social History
Applicable Criteria:Event
Applicable Criteria:Architecture/Engineering
Historic Use:Education: Library
Historic Use:Recreation And Culture: Theater
Architectural Style:Classical Revival
Resource Type:Building
Historic Status:Listed in the National Register
Historic Status:Listed in the State Register
National Register Listing Date:07/01/1981
State Register Listing Date:01/01/1989
Number of Contributing Buildings:1
Number of Contributing Sites:0
Number of Contributing Structures:0
Number of Contributing Objects:0
Number of Non-Contributing Sites:0
Number of Non-Contributing Structures:0
Number of Non-Contributing Objects:0
National Register and State Register of Historic Places, State Historic Preservation Office, Wisconsin Historical Society, Madison, Wisconsin

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