Connect with us


La Crosse preservation panel to consider historic status for old south-side library



At the same time that one La Crosse city commission is pondering what to do with a former library, another committee is considering granting landmark status to that same building.

The Heritage Preservation Commission took a preliminary vote Thursday in favor of declaring the old South Branch library as a landmark.

Local preservationist David Riel told the commission that the library built in the 1950s replaced an old barrack building at Powell Park, which had drawbacks during severe weather.

Riel described the building’s appearance in an old photo as a “corn crib.”

Riel has done research showing that the city tried to build the library and the Memorial swimming pool at the same time in the 1930s.

However, after the pool on State Street was completed, Riel said “there wasn’t enough money left over for a library. And in World War II, there were building supply issues, and so they didn’t have the resources to construct a new building, so it wasn’t until 1951 when the residents of La Crosse put the issue on the ballots to be voted on.”

FILE – Construction of La Crosse’s Memorial pool decades ago delayed work on the south branch library.

On Wednesday, a development committee heard offers from groups that want to repurpose the old library. One request would be to tear down the building.

Riel argued that the structure is worth keeping and most of the proposals presented called for it to be preserved.

The preservation commission has planned a public hearing at its May meeting about the historic status of the South Branch building.

A native of Prairie du Chien, Brad graduated from UW - La Crosse and has worked in radio news for more than 30 years, mostly in the La Crosse area. He regularly covers local courts and city and county government. Brad produces the features "Yesterday in La Crosse" and "What's Buried on Brad's Desk." He also writes the website "Triviazoids," which finds odd connections between events that happen on a certain date, and he writes and performs with the local comedy group Heart of La Crosse. Brad been featured on several national TV programs because of his memory skills.

Continue Reading
1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. nick

    April 26, 2024 at 6:28 am

    The preservation society is over stepping in a big way. There is nothing unique about the building.
    It should be sold and repurposed.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *