Save the Carnegie Library in Bemidji Minnesota

Help us preserve this treasured landmark, and restore its role as a vibrant centerpiece fo our community

Please volunteer your time and talents

Please make a tax-deductible contribution to our capital fund

Progress Progress

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Volunteers Welcome!

Carnegie Project Highlights


  • As of March 31, 2017 we have raised $1,313,000 in donations and grants. To date many of Bemidji's local businesses have contributed almost $30,000 worth of in-kind goods and services, for which we thank them most sincerely! And our enthusiastic volunteers have given us more than 5,300 hours of their time and energy.
  • January - We received a $25,000 grant from the Carolyn F. Jacobs Culture and Humanity Fund.


  • December – City Council authorized creation of a Carnegie Task Force, in transition from the original steering committee. The new Task Force will be responsible for the final stages of the project including oversight of the construction, policies for community and tenant use of the building, and final fundraising.
  • October – The Minnesota Historical Society awarded the City a Historical & Cultural Heritage Grant of $346,000, to fund restoration of the windows and parts of the interior, plus modernized systems including HVAC, electrical, plumbing and accessible restrooms. The grant is one of the largest awarded since the inception of the Legacy grant program.
  • July – The Carl & Verna Schmidt Foundation of Rochester, Minnesota, awarded the Friends of the Carnegie a grant of $5,000 for the restoration of the Library.
  • May – Received formal approval from the Minnesota State Historic Preservation Office for the Carnegie restoration. The work was funded in part by a $50,000 Legacy grant for planning & design from the Minnesota Historical Society, and was carried out by local architects Widseth Smith Nolting.


  • October - The Minnesota Historical Society awarded the City a $58,280 grant designated specifically for restoration of the Carnegie's exterior limestone and brick masonry. The grant will be matched by funds already raised by the Friends of the Carnegie.
  • Fall – Watermark Art Center tenants move across the street. The building is empty for the first time since it opened in 1910.
  • July – Completed architectural design, scope of work, and an updated budget for the restoration. As part of the planning we worked with Ottertail Power through their Commercial Design Assistance Plan, to develop the specifications for materials and equipment (heating, lighting). Benefits include an energy rebate to the City once the building is complete and lower ongoing energy costs for the life of the building.


  • September – The Minnesota Historical Society awarded the City a $50,000 Historical & Cultural Heritage Grant for the Bemidji Carnegie Library Restoration project. The grant was designated for architectural design, planning, and specifications for rehabilitation and restoration of the structure. Local firm Widseth Smith Nolting selected for the project.
  • September - We received a $25,000 grant from the Carolyn F. Jacobs Culture and Humanity Fund.
  • April - The National Park Service gave approval for the proposed relocation of the building as part of the preservation project. The Carnegie will remain on the National Register of Historic Places during and after construction.
  • April - We formally established the "Friends of the Carnegie Library Fund", a component fund of the Northwest Minnesota Foundation (NMF). This new fund will support fundraising efforts for the restoration of the historic structure, as well as future preservation activities and oversight for the Carnegie.


  • September/October - Completed the Phase I and combined Phase II/III Archeological Surveys of the project's 'Area of Potential Effect', in the areas of Library Park that will be impacted by the construction. The investigations extended the characterization of the site & allow us to proceed with relocation of the structure as planned.
  • August – Andreas and Marilyn Kuhn donate $150,000 to the Carnegie in memory of their grandson Jordan C. Klope.
  • May – The Preservation Alliance of Minnesota named the Bemidji Carnegie as its first "Site Worth Saving"


  • December – The City received a major grant from the Joseph & Janice Lueken Family Foundation.
  • July – The George W. Neilson Foundation awarded $150,000 to the City for Carnegie restoration project.
  • Summer - Architects MJ Burns evaluated the current building conditions and completed preliminary Scope of Work & Budget
  • March – City Council voted to establish the Carnegie Steering Committee to raise funds for restoration and preservation of the Carnegie Library. Project planning and capital campaign begin
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