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Historical society revives interest in Carnegie Library

An effort to revive the long-vacant Carnegie Library Building is continuing, even after the Alexandria City Council backed away from buying the building.

At the request of RayMar Associates, LLC, owners of the RayMar Building/Carnegie Library at 117 7th Avenue West, the Douglas County Historical Society Board recently met with a RayMar representative.

They explored options for using the building to best benefit DCHS, according to Carol Neumann, board member.

"This meeting has rekindled the society's enthusiasm," she said. "The board of directors is optimistic about this turn of events and is committed to completing the necessary due diligence."

The DCHS Board is actively seeking a partner to make this happen for Alexandria, she added.

After two years of studying the possibility of buying the Carnegie building, DCHS decided the city of Alexandria and/or Douglas County would be a better owner.

In March 2013, it requested that both the city council and county commissioners explore acquiring this historic building.

A feasibility study conducted by the city concluded they have no specific use for the building and current commercial market rental rates will not generate enough income to cover monthly operating expenses.

DCHS is particularly interested in using the lower level for its research department that has out-grown the current space.

Using the lower level for archival storage and research fits in with the DCHS' mission of preserving history, Neumann said. The large space could also be used to accommodate groups, such as clubs and school classes, something DCHS has wanted to do for a long time.

"We are also looking at some exciting options for the upper level as the lobby area, suitable for traveling exhibits and other events that are too large for our current location," Neumann said. "The space will also be appealing for community and/or private receptions and meetings."

Location and visibility make the Carnegie Library an attractive site, according to the DCHS. Being just one block off Broadway would give DCHS a prominent position in the historic downtown district. The Carnegie building is also a block from the courthouse, where many people begin their genealogy research.


The Douglas County Historical Society was organized in 1976 and is located in the historic residence of Senator Knute Nelson at 1219 South Nokomis Street. The mission of the Douglas County Historical Society is to discover, preserve and disseminate the history of the county and its people.

Al Edenloff
Al Edenloff is the news and opinion page editor for the Echo Press. He was born in Alexandria and lived most of his childhood in Parkers Prairie. He graduated with honors from Moorhead State University with a degree in mass communications, print journalism. He interned at the Echo Press in the summer of 1983 and was hired a year later as a sports reporter. He also worked as a news reporter/photographer. Al is a four-time winner of the Minnesota Newspaper Association's Herman Roe Award, which honors excellence in editorial writing.  
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