History of the Mason County District Library – Part 1

History of the Ludington Public Library

In April of 1872 interested residents of Ludington met to discuss the possibility of forming a public library. By June of that year the library was started with a collection of used books and a donation of $100.00 from James Ludington. The library was housed in a building that the Pere Marquette Lumber Company donated for that purpose. Come the spring of 1874, the collection had grown to almost 400 volumes.

Pere Marquette Lumber Co
Home of the first Ludington Public Library. PM Lumber Company Store - which later became the Pierce Mfg. Co.

The library was located in Temperance Hall in 1881. This was the year that two thirds of Ludington was destroyed by fire and the entire library collection was lost. After the fire there was a collection of books available to the public in Longfellow school. This collection was owned by the school board.

In 1905 the Pere Marquette Literary Club sponsored the construction of the new library. A grant for $15,000 was secured from the Carnegie Institution for construction. The grant required a match of the same amount. The city council gave the library matching funds and made a commitment for $1,500.00 annually for upkeep of the building. The building site was secured for $2,500 and John Anderson was engaged to erect the building at a cost of $10,366. Construction was completed on December 30, 1905.

Ludington Public Library
Ludington Public Library 1906

On March 1, 1906 the library opened to serve the residents of Ludington. The library collection was 3,800 volumes. Miss Kate Hutchins, a teacher in the Ludington schools was hired as the first librarian. The second floor of the library was an assembly and lecture hall. The first meeting there, on September 10, 1906 was the organizational meeting of the Mason County Hospital Association.

 

In the 1930’s the assembly hall was remodeled for a children’s room. During the 1940’s library branches were located in Lakeview and Pere Marquette schools and were open 2 days a week for 1 hour.

Ludington Public Library circa 1925
Ludington Public Library 1972 addition
Ludington Public Library 1976 addition, photo credit: Doug Coldwell

In 1973 the Ludington library board undertook a study to remodel and enlarge the library. Plans called for an expansion from 3,200 sq. ft. to over 11,000 sq. ft. In 1975 Federal revenue sharing funds from the City of Ludington and Mason County were secured and voters passed a millage for construction. Total cost of the new portion was $300,000.

Part 2 of the History of Mason County District Library will feature the history of Scottville Library. Stay tuned!