BEMIDJI -- Bemidji residents will be able to take a trip back to 1910 Saturday by walking through the fully restored Carnegie Library.
After years of fundraising and months of construction work, the century-old building has been restored to its former glory, inside and out. The nearly $2.2 million project restored the interior and exterior of the building, while also fixing the windows and modernizing the HVAC system.
Much of the cost was covered by the Friends of the Carnegie Library, which raised funds and wrote grants to cross the $2 million mark. In summer 2018, the Bemidji City Council agreed to cover the roughly $200,000 shortfall, with the intention of fundraising to continue until the amount is paid off.
Along with restoring the building, the project added to the structure, too. On the rear of the building, a new accessible entrance was built, as the front entrance will be closed except for special occasions.
Initially, project proponents also wanted to move the building back several feet from Bemidji Avenue to avoid damage from street maintenance. However, the cost was too high to do so.
With work now complete, the upper level of the Carnegie will be available to rent through the city's Parks and Recreation Department. On the lower level, the city has entered into two lease agreements with Great Northern Counseling Services and the Bemidji Jaycees.
Each is for 16 months from September through Dec. 31, 2020. In total, the rent will generate $11,112.
On Saturday, an open house will take place from will take place from 3:30-5 p.m., allowing citizens to see the finished product.
IF YOU GO
What: Bemidji Carnegie Library Open House.
When: Saturday, 3:30-5 p.m.
Where: 426 Bemidji Ave. N.