What was once Andrew Carnegie’s historic library at Mount Clemens and housed the Anton Art Center for as long as most people can remember, has been declared a historic gem.
The Michigan Economic Development Corporation announced that the building is one of 27 Michigan historic properties to receive the special recognition of being listed in the National Register of Historic Places for 2021. The honor administered in Michigan by the State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO) signifies that the building, as with other official sites, structures, and objects, signifies that it has been deemed worthy of preservation for its historical significance.
“This year’s nominated historic properties span the history and geography of Michigan’s two peninsulas, recognizing places and people who are significant to our communities, our state, and our nation. Listing on the National Register promotes our shared history. , fosters a sense of pride in our communities, provides public recognition of our historic places, and generates investment and economic activity,” State Historic Preservation Officer Mark A. Rodman said in the press release. of Monday.
It is a tribute and very timely for the Anton Art Center.
“Achieving listing on the National Register is an exciting opportunity for the Anton Art Center to recognize the history of the facility we currently occupy,” said Phil Gilchrist, executive director of the art center.
He said the application process was launched in 2018 as part of the Art Center’s 50th anniversary celebration in 2019.
“As one of only two Carnegie Library buildings in Macomb County and a public facility for more than 115 years, the architectural gem has always been a cornerstone of our community deserving of this recognition,” said Gilchrist. .
The building was completed in 1904 as part of philanthropist Carnegie’s free national public library building program.
Mount Clemens Library was the city’s first permanent home for the library and its growing collection of books and documents. It was designed by local architect Theophilus Van Damme, who designed several other buildings in Macomb County, including the Tudor Office and Chapel (1914) at Clinton Grove Cemetery, which was also named to the list.
In 1969 the library outgrew the building and moved to a new location. It was then that it was transformed into a community art center, pursuing its civic vocation. An addition was added to the rear of the building in 2006, providing the necessary administrative space and allowing full ADA access throughout, but it was designed to respect the original library building and its design.
Today, the Anton Art Center continues to attract visitors from across Macomb County and beyond who can enjoy and explore various art forms in the historic library building. Although the addition updated and made changes to the property, the intentional preservation of the historic fabric of the original library still allowed for its listing on the national register.
This particular National Register nomination was completed at no cost through Mount Clemens’ participation in the Certified Local Government (CLG) program, in partnership with SHPO and the National Park Service. The CLG program provides a structured framework to promote, support and enhance historic preservation activities at the local level.
Since the program began in the 1960s, more than 96,000 properties across the country, including nearly 2,000 in Michigan, have been listed on the National Registry, which is administered by the state’s National Park Service.
Of those on the list, all are referred to as “property,” whether it is a single building, site, or structure, or a historic district made up of hundreds of individual buildings. Last year, 23 individual properties and four historic districts totaling more than 179 contributing historic resources in Michigan were listed on the National Register.
To be considered for listing on the National Register, a property must generally be at least 50 years old and must also be significant when assessed against major historical events or trends in the history of its community, the state or nation. A property must also possess historic integrity, that is, the ability to convey its significance.
“SHPO is honored to join so many people and communities across the state in celebrating this diverse group of properties that were listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2021,” Rodman added.
Other sites in Macomb County that have been deemed historic are the First Congressional Church in Richmond, built in 1887, and the General Motors Technical Center in Warren, designed by architect Eero Saarinen in 1956.
To see the full list on the National Register visit nps.gov/subjects/nationalregister/index.htm