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My Town Monday: Carnegie Library

Of course, libraries are awesome just because they are libraries. But we have an extra-special library in Livingston County. We have a Carnegie Library.

Taken from the Michigan Historical Marker for the Howell Carnegie Library:

The Howell library association originated as the Ladies Library Association in 1875. That year, ladies began offering books for lending. The need for for spacious, permanent quarters grew, and in 1902, for three hundred dollars and railroad travel expenses, Detroit architect Elijah E. Meyers, designer of the Michigan State Capitol, agreed to provide plans for a new library. The township board hired local builder A.G. Kuehnle for the project. Throughout the county, farmers gathered fieldstones used to build the Neoclassical library. The structure stands on land donated by the four sons of Howell pioneer William Mc Pherson. An addition to the library was completed in 1991.

“If the city of Howell will pledge itself to support a free library and provide a suitable site, Mr. Carnegie will be glad to furnish ten thousand dollars for a free public library building.” In 1902, in reponse to a request for funds, steel entrepreneur Andrew Carnegie’s secretary sent this message to Howell Township Supervisor W.H.S. Wood. Carnegie funded over 2,500 free public libraries throughout the English-speaking world. The philanthropist’s gift to Howell eventually amounted to $15,000. In return, the township pledged annual support of no less than 10 percent of Carnegie’s donation. The library opened on November 19, 1906.

Now, if that’s not cool enough, the building looks awesome. The stonework is incredible. Apparently, there was some ugly remodeling done during the 60s (did everyone do drugs then?) but it was fixed later, restoring the library to it’s glory.

When they added on, the addition juts out the back. There are two hallways leading to the rear addition, but the inside walls of the hallways are the original rear of the building. How cool is that?
I was going to just poach some pictures from the library’s website, but instead, I’ll directed interested parties to the virtual tour. And they did a nice job on that, too!

There’s something truly wonderful about going to the Howell Library. From the neat old architecture when you walk in to the 1875 plat map hanging in the rear, and, least we forget, the books.

Like any smart library who wants to make sure they can keep their funding, the Howell Library has some computers and movies alongside the regular books and the audiobooks.

And there are teenagers who hang out on the front lawn day after day hour after hour. Wish they went inside, but at least if they’re hanging out in the middle of downtown Howell, they can’t get into much trouble. Too many witnesses. Not that they really cause trouble– though some folks are afraid of those rabid-looking teenagers.

But the library is still a nice place to go. I think, of all the libraries I’ve been in, the Howell Carnegie library is still my favorite.

My Town Monday started by Travis Erwin. Visit him for more My Town Mondays.

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My Town Monday: The Little City that Never Sleeps

It’s 1:41AM. What are you doing?

You could be shopping for groceries or new shoes or lawn furniture. You could be eating out at one of several fast food joints or even a sit down restaurant. You mail a package or even go to the gym. At least you could in the Brighton/Howell area.

We pretty much run 24/7 around here. I’m so used to it, that I don’t even consider that the rest of the world… doesn’t. I realized this most sharply after a little weekend trip to Shipshewana, Indian for the Regional Pokemon Trading Card Game Tournament.

What do you mean places CLOSE on Sundays? Not in my area. Most places are open. There are few things you can’t do on Sunday. Or at 2 in the morning.

I do my grocery shopping at 10pm at night, though I must admit that 5am is better since by then the shelves are stocked. I have my pick of stores, too– 2 Meijer Stores, 2 VG’s, 2 Kroger’s and 2 Wal-Marts (if you count the new one out in Fowlerville.) Plust the assortment of drugstores, but I don’t go to them. For those who aren’t familiar with Meijer, they have the distinction of being the first 24 super-center, long before Wal-Mart did either. So, as long as I’ve lived in this county, one could go to Meijer at all hours for a can of paint, a pair of windsheild wiper blades, a gallon of milk and a bunch of bananas… at 3am.

I’ve mailed packages in the middle of the night using the automated postal machine. Of course, with the proliferation of ATM’s, I can do my banking in the middle of the night. Then I can go get something to eat.

I’m going to list the ones off the top of my head. I haven’t been on the midnight shift in a while, so I might be off. But for one’s dining choices, we have Little Chef (local sit-down restaurant), 2 McDonald’s, Burger King, Wendy’s and Taco Bell. The last two I think are open until 1 or 2am. We had a 24 hour Subway for awhile, but I don’t know if they ever got anyone for the midnight shift. There are probably other places, and much of the town is open until 10 or 11 anyway.

I’ve never gone to the 24 hour gym. Yeah. I get enough exercise pushing my luck. And doesn’t typing burn calories…
It’s dreadfully jarring when I go into these strange lands where things aren’t open 24/7. Where restaurants are closed on Sunday. Where people sleep at night instead of shop or eat (or work.) I spent some 5 years working midnights in retail and I still love the middle of the night. One of the best parts is that the world is quiet– but I can still do most everything I need to. Even if I rarely go out at 2 am for a little shopping or dining, it’s always nice to know that I could. I am, after all, very used to and rather comfortable with this always on city.

I always figured that if little cities like Brighton and Howell ran 24/7, then surely most of the world did.

Does your town stay open 24/7? If not, how on earth do you stand it?

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My Town Monday: First Impression

About the center of Livingston County is the city of Howell. Howell lies about halfway between Lansing and Detroit and that’s no coicidence. It was a stop along the Grand River Trail before there was even a road. Originally, the town was called “Livingston Center” a fitting name, if not one that’s entirely uninspired.

The Livingston County Seat is located in Howell. You can tell by the map I poached from Google Maps that there’s still plenty of green in the Howell Area. A couple lakes. Not too crowded (though getting there…;-) It’s a rather pleasant little city.

So, to get to Downtown Howell, perhaps for one of our few attractions– which include the Festival of Lights, the Melon Fest and the Michigan Challenge Balloonfest or perhaps to visit the Carnegie Library or the County Courthouse or ride the Santa Train– one would travel down I-96. The best way to get to the downtown area is to get off at D-19. And one of the first sights to greet you is this:

A pair of abandoned houses. One boarded up and looking rather forlorn. The other melting with decay. Especially if you get off Westbound 96, you’ll wait at the traffic light staring straight at these two properties. Welcome to Howell.

We have a quaint historic district, lots of cool old architecture, but the first thing we want to show you are these two old negelcted properties.

Occaisionally, rumors buzz about a new road that would bypass the downtown, a route for semi-trucks to keep them out of hte historic downtown area. The construction of the loop road would take care of these two old houses. But in the meantime, we sure know how to put our best face forward.

Now, I’ll admit that one of the things that always astounds me is how hard it seems to be for a city to knock down a derelict building that’s on the verge of falling down itself. Though, these old houses are often rather tenacious, holding on and standing long enough to be trashed by vandals and punks and drug addicts. I think it would be better to have a pile of rubble than a house that some squatter or kid could get into. Most people aren’t drawn to piles of rubble.

There’s plans to “beautify” D-19 (or Michigan Ave as it’s called coming into town). Plans to put in some roundabouts and traffic lights and flowers and such. But these plans never address the sorry first impression that one gets. There is only ever one first impression. And Howell’s first impression is akin to walking into someone’s house and finding dirty undies on the dining room table.

And it’s not like these houses were recently abandoned. There’s no excuse for this.

So, if you happen out to Howell, try to ignore the way we great you. The downtown’s much nicer.

(I was too busy to get out and take my own pix, so I poached these. =)
We’ve got some great history and some neat things in this town. Not eaxactly a hopping tourist attraction, but it’s still a pleasant town. If you’re not scared off before you get here.

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