Wisconsin Library Heritage Center

The Wisconsin Library Heritage Center is a program of the Wisconsin Library Association Foundation promoting understanding and appreciation of the history of libraries and librarianship in Wisconsin.

Williams Free Library - Beaver Dam

Posted by Larry T. Nix
Larry T. Nix
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on Thursday, February 26, 2009 in Exhibits

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The City of Beaver Dam is home to the historic Williams Free Library building which was built in 1890-91. It housed the Beaver Dam Public Library until its move into its current facility.  The building is an outstanding example of the Richardsonian Romanesque Revival style which was inspired by architect Henry Hobson Richardson. The building has been depicted on several of the souvenir items in the Wisconsin Library Memorabilia Exhibit which are pictured above. The Williams Free Library is named for John J. Williams who donated $25,000 for the construction of the building.


Before moving to Madison, Wisconsin Library Hall of Fame inductee Frank Avery Hutchins was a resident of Beaver Dam and served on the library board. Hutchins was an early advocate for open shelves in libraries and the Beaver Dam library was one of the first public libraries in the nation to implement this concept.


The Dodge County Historical Society has been located in the former library building since 1985. The Williams Free Library is on the Wisconsin Library Heritage Trail and is well worth a visit.



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