Park City Library building for sale

By 
Kathleen Gilluly Outlook Editor
Thursday, February 6, 2020
Photo courtesy of A Haus of Realty The library building has the distinctive architecture of Hearst and Carnegie libraries that were built by the wealthy families around the end of the 19th and the beginning of the 20th centuries. Although much smaller, the building appears sound and was a welcome gift to the residents of Park City in 1930. The funds for the Park City library were donated by Mrs. May Smelser Allred as a memorial to herself and her late husband, Charles Smelser.

Photo courtesy of A Haus of Realty The library building has the distinctive architecture of Hearst and Carnegie libraries that were built by the wealthy families around the end of the 19th and the beginning of the 20th centuries. Although much smaller, the building appears sound and was a welcome gift to the residents of Park City in 1930. The funds for the Park City library were donated by Mrs. May Smelser Allred as a memorial to herself and her late husband, Charles Smelser.

Outlook photo by Kathleen Gilluly The interior of the Park City library features a large main room with a fireplace, original light fixtures, distinctive wood trim and book shelves. There is a small classroom and a bathroom in the basement.

Outlook photo by Kathleen Gilluly The interior of the Park City library features a large main room with a fireplace, original light fixtures, distinctive wood trim and book shelves. There is a small classroom and a bathroom in the basement.

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Article Image Alt Text

From the aging portraits of George Washington and John F. and Robert Kennedy to the garden club scrapbooks, certificates of merit and thousands of books, the Park City Library building is pretty much in the same state it’s been for the past 10 years. A weathered sign dates the construction of the distinctive structure to 1930, as does documentation provided by Park City historian Burt Mitchell.

Under the ownership of Park City Schools, the building was listed for sale in December for $120,000, after being closed for about the past decade. A Haus of Realty is the listing agency and agent Dan Klein noted that the structure is unique and could be put to use in a number of ways.

“It isn’t a Carnegie Library, but it looks like it was built in that style,” Klein said. “It might make a nice vacation rental or Airbnb or other business.” The building, while considerably smaller than most Carnegie or Hearst Libraries, appears to have been patterned on the familiar architecture of the libraries sponsored by wealthy families at the turn of the 20th century. Montana boasts a number of very similarly-styled (but much grander) libraries. The Park City Library was also gifted by a benefactor, Mrs. May Smelser Allred, according to a short history provided by Mitchell.

All Mrs. Allred requested in return for the bequeathment of the $7,000 she left in trust in November of 1928 for the erection of the building was that a portrait of she and her husband hang in the library. That portrait and other items of historical significance are now protected in the Museum of the Beartooths in Columbus, according to museum Executive Director Penny Redli.

“We took all the scrapbooks except a few that had been in the basement and were damp,” she said. “Everything is categorized and protected, including Park City oral histories.”

The documentation provided by Mitchell relates that, “The beautiful structure was built during the past summer on west Main Street and would be formally placed at the disposal, benefit and pleasure of the public. In cooperation with the school board, the Park City Women’s Club, which had conducted a library for the past few years would take charge of the operation in providing books and services and donating 1,380 books already in use.” At the time the volunteers were Mrs. Gail Fry, Mrs. A.O. Nelson, Mrs. Bob Davis and Mrs. Florence Flood. Mrs. Earl (Marg) Eastlick and later Mrs. Alex Fox were hired as librarians. Later still, Lorraine Snow, sister of Marg Eastlick was recruited for the position.

According to Mitchell, Helen Braun, a local historian when he was younger, compiled interviews of Park City residents that were later compiled into published books that are also at the Museum of the Beartooths.

Several residents, including Mitchell, Jim Southworth and Carol Henkel have expressed concern about the future of the building. There will be a public meeting to discuss those concerns at the Park City Civic Center, Wednesday, Feb. 19 at 7 p.m. “This meeting will be to discuss the building and get some much needed correct information from the Columbus Stillwater Historic Preservation Board,” reads an email from Henkel. “This organization will share what they know of the history of the building. They will also share what they have learned in working on other projects in the county.” For more information call Henkel at 633-2598.

Information on how the school district plans to utilize the money from the sale of the library, as well as more history of the building and city will be featured in a future edition of the Outlook.

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