What used to be Andrew Carnegie’s Historical Library in Mount Clemens and was home to Anton Center for the Arts as much as most people remember, was declared a historical gem.
The Michigan Economic Development Corporation has announced that the building is one of 27 historic sites in Michigan that have been awarded special recognition on the list. National Register of Historic Places for 2021. The honor, which is administered in Michigan by the State Department of Historic Preservation (SHPO), means the building, like other official sites, structures and facilities, means it has been recognized as worthy of preservation because of its historic significance.
“The historic sites nominated this year cover the history and geography of both Michigan Peninsulas, recognizing places and people that matter in our communities, in our state and in our country. The list in the National Register promotes our common history, cultivates a sense of pride for our communities, ensures public recognition of our historic sites and stimulates economic investment and activity, ”said Mark A. Rodman, Commissioner for Preservation of History, on Monday.
This is a tribute of respect and very timely for the Anton Center for the Arts.
“Getting a list in the National Register is a great opportunity for the Anton Arts Center to recognize the history of the object we now 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 celebrations in 2019.
“Being one of the two buildings of the Carnegie Library in Macomb County and a public site for over 115 years, the architectural gem has consistently been the cornerstone of our community that deserves this recognition,” Gilchrist said.
The building was completed in 1904 as part of a nationwide free program to build the Carnegie Philanthropist Public Library.
The Mount Clemens Library was the first permanent home in the city for the library and its growing collection of books and materials. It was designed by local architect Theophilus Van Damme, who designed several other buildings in Macomb County, including the Tudor Office and Chapel (1914) in Clinton Grove Cemetery, which were also included in 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 arts center, continuing its civic purpose. In 2006, an additional space was added to the rear of the building, providing the necessary administrative space and providing full ADA access throughout, but it was designed with respect to the original library building and its design.
Today, the Anton Art Center continues to attract visitors from all over Macomb County and beyond who can enjoy a variety of art in the historic library building. Although the addition updated and made changes to the property, the deliberate preservation of the historical structure of the original library still allowed it to be included in the National Register.
This particular nomination to the National Registry was completed free of charge thanks to Mount Clemens ’participation in the Certified Local Government Program (CLG) in partnership with SHPO and the National Parks Service. The CLG program provides a structured framework for promoting, supporting, and strengthening local history conservation activities.
Since the program began in the 1960s, more than 96,000 sites nationwide, including nearly 2,000 in Michigan, have been listed on the National Register, which is managed by the State National Parks Service.
Of those on the list, all are called “property,” be it one building, facility or structure or a historic district consisting of hundreds of individual buildings. Last year, 23 individual properties and four historic districts totaling more than 179 historic resources in Michigan were listed on the National Register.
In order to be considered for inclusion in the national register, property must typically be at least 50 years old and must also be significant in assessing major historical events or trends in the history of their community, state or nation. A property must also have historical integrity – the ability to convey its significance.
“SHPO is honored to join a large number of people and communities across the state in celebrating this diverse group of sites that were entered in the National Register of Historic Places in 2021,” Rodman added.
Other historic sites in Macomb County include the Church of the First Congress in Richmond, built in 1887, and the General Motors Technical Center in Warren, designed by architect Eer Saarinen in 1956.
To see the full list in the National Register visit nps.gov/subjects/nationalregister/index.htm