Built for book lovers: Carnegie Library hits market in Kendallville

Local News

KENDALLVILLE, Ind. (WANE) — It’s a building built for book lovers, and if you’re in the market for some property it could be yours.

“It was a privilege to own it,” said Lisa Ellsworth, the current owner of the building. “I mean, how many people can say that?”

Ellsworth came to own Kendallville’s Carnegie Library, which sits at 124 E. Rush St., in 2008. The library was named for Andrew Carnegie, a philanthropist who helped fund thousands of libraries across the world. The land was donated and Kendallville applied for a grant in 1910 and the library was opened in 1913.

The Outside:

“I love libraries and I like the whole Carnegie idea,” Ellsworth said. “He helped create these libraries, but he made sure that the community had some skin in the game: you had to come up with half the money.”

It served as the city’s library until the 1960’s when the library moved to a larger space and the Carnegie was given a new purpose. First, as the office of several lawyers who took the wide-open room and sectioned it into four offices with drop ceilings on the first floor. Then an architect moved into the lower level. Ellsworth bought the building from the architect in 2008 and used it as a vintage clothing store and more recently as an art gallery and occasional host to other small events.

Ellsworth said she falls in love with the building every time she walks in, but it’s time to move on. Her realtor, Carl Quandt, said since the $250,000 listing was posted, it has gotten attention on social media and drawn the interest of potential new owners from across the country, even as far as California. He said it has become a growing trend to repurpose historic buildings.

The First Floor:

“Pretty much just because they’re unique,” Quandt said. “This one in particular, it’s almost like a collector’s item. It’s a Carnegie Library. There’s only so many built and there’s only so many left. So I think, from a collector standpoint, that’s definitely some of the interest we’ve gotten is it’s just unique, that people just feel like they need to have it.”

Ellsworth said the building has proven it has the potential to be so many things, it just needs the right person to write the next chapter.

“I’ve never regretted this investment,” Ellsworth said. “It’s always brought me joy so I’m hoping someone will appreciate it as much as I do. It’s just a matter of having people with vision to come in and do something.”

The Lower Level:

According to Ellsworth, the current climate in Kendallville shows that now is the time for growth in the city.

‘They would be on the ground level,” Ellsworth said. “We’ve got new streets, we’ve got grants for facades, and possibly grants for apartments. Make it an attraction again, because it was once a place that you shopped and did all kinds of things.”

See the inside of the property for yourself at an open house happening on Saturday from noon to 3 p.m.

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