A Historical Timeline
October 15, 1915
Historical Timeline of Events in the life of the Collinsville Memorial Library Center
Historical Timeline of Events in the life of the Collinsville Memorial Library Center 1915 to 2015
October 15, 1915
Library Committee Selected
Mrs. John Bruso, president of the Collinsville Study Club (current Woman’s Club) selected the library committee consisting of Mrs. AC Powell, Mrs, Charles Holding and Mrs. Charles Listeman
June 1, 1916
Library opened on the second floor of the City Hall with 121 donated volumes.
August 26, 1916
Mabelle Holding Echols is the first librarian.
August 26, 1917
Library Moves to Henry Stumpf House
Library moved to Henry Stumpf House at the northeast corner of Church and Clinton streets.
March 18, 1918
Library moves to the 2nd floor of the Miners Institute.
Library moves to the 2nd floor of the Miners Institute.
September 1, 1927
Library purchases the Look-Renfro residence.
Library purchased the Look-Renfro residence at 408 W. Main St. for $11,300.
December 2, 1936
$9,000 grant received for library construction
Federal Public Works grant of $9,000 was given for the construction of the library building; Library was temporarily housed in the City Hall.
August 15, 1937
Library dedicated at 408 W. Main St, Collinsville, IL.
November 30, 1938
Became a War Memorial
Became a War Memorial when a bronze tablet of 15 who lost their lives in World War I was dedicated.
November 30, 1948
WWII Tablet Added
Tablet of 50 names who lost their lives in World War II was added.
November 30, 1961
East Wing Added
East Wing Added.
November 30, 1967
Collinsville Historical Museum Added
Collinsville Historical Museum was added on the lower level when a truckful of pictures and memorabilia from the Collins family was donated by Mr. Irving Dilliard.
November 30, 1967
West Wing Added
West Wing Added
November 30, 1988
South Wing Added
South Wing with four floors added.
June 1, 1991
Linda Baquet Harris
Linda Baquet Harris
June 1, 1996
November 30, 1999
Blum House Donated
Blum House Donated
November 30, 2004
Library converted from municipal to district library
Collinsville Memorial Library was converted from a municipal library to a district library to include the Collinsville Unit 10 School District.
November 30, 2005
Collinsville Historical Museum erected
Collinsville Historical Museum was erected on the grounds of the library proper through a grant written by the library staff.
November 30, 2008
Fairmont City Library Opens
Fairmont City Library Center was opened to join the Collinsville Memorial Library Center as part of the Mississippi Valley Library District.
Walk Through History
History of 1937 BuildingIn September of 1927 the house at 408 West Main was owned by Stephen W. Renfro was purchased for $11,524 by the Collinsville Library to be its first official home. In the 1930s a federal PWA public works grant of $9,000 toward the erect of a new building was obtained. The Library Board had $5,000 in its building fund and the city council of Collinsville approved the additional funds necessary for the construction for a total cost of $22,392. The Renfro house was razed and the first brick for the new library was laid on March 19, 1937. The building was completed on July 31, 1937 and dedicated on August 15, 1937 in observance of the Centennial of the platting of Collinsville in 1837. J.W. Kennedy was the architect and Charles Groneau Jr. was the contractor.
History of the 1962-63 WingThe East wing of the Collinsville Memorial Library was built in 1962-63. The addition was designed by Albert R. Goedde, assistant to J.W. Kennedy on the original design.The wing was built at a cost of $43,000 by Joe Kinsella.
The East wind of the Library was dedicated on October 13, 1963.
History of the 1966-67 WingThe West wing of the Collinsville Memorial Library was building in 1966-67. Robert Field was selected as the architect for the construction of the West wing. Total cost of this wing was $144,280.
The west wing dedication took place on December 15, 1967.
Total cost of all construction and that of new equipment over the library’s first 50 year period was approximately $250,000 - about $5,000 a year - which took in acquisition of three pieces of land in addition to construction, furnishings and equipment expense.
History of the 1985-86 Wing
In 1985-86 the four story 16,800 square foot south wing including a 3,479 square foot meeting room was added to the Collinsville Memorial Library. Robert Field was the architect.
In 1983 the City Council of Collinsville approved the expansion to the Collinsville Memorial Library of $1,055,500. Then in 1984 LSCA Title II Construction Grant was applied for from the IL State Library for a new addition to the existing building at 408 W. Main. Addition was expected to cost $916,640. The grant was received.
In 1991 in honor of Florence Burkholder’s service to the Collinsville Library the Board of Trustees resolved to name the Community Room in her honor.
The fountain in front of the Main Entrance of the Collinsville Memorial Public Library was dedicated on May 25, 1938 in honor of Charles H. Dorris by the teachers and students of the Collinsville Unit 10 School District in which he served as the Superintendent from 1900-1937. The fountain was built with small contributions donated for the most part by the public school children of Collinsville.
The fountain marker in the form of an open book reads as follows
A TRIBUTE TO
CHARLES H. DORRIS
1900 - 1937
By 2009 the Dorris Fountain and Pan on the front lawn of the Collinsville Library were refurbished through a community effort lead by Mary Sue Schusky, Marge Wright, Trudi Monroe and Kendra Howell collecting over $70,000 which included maintenance for its future operation.
Carl Christian Mose (1903-1973), instructor of modeling at the School of Fine Arts at Washington University was commissioned to design and construct the center piece for the Dorris Fountain in March of 1938.
A youthful terra cotta figure of Pan was agreed on for a happy combination of reasons. It suggested the figure of a child and so is fitting gift of children in tribute to one whom they respect and admire. He comes from Greek mythology and therefore has a distinctive literary quality which makes him especially appropriate for the library grounds. It is in the right proportion for the pool which in turn was carefully designed and placed so as to harmonize with the library itself. The figure is depicted as performing an act which is pleasing and by its nature is meant to be continuously piping a melodious tune on a set of reeds.
As described by Carl C. Mose in 1938
In May of 2008 Pan was transported to a reclamation studio to be renovated and the fountain was torn out to be replaced by one with higher walls to protect the fountain mechanism and waters from the debris from the Main Street.
Russell-Marti Conservation Services
60128 Gooseberry Hollow Road
California, MO 65018
Reported by Conservation Services upon completion and reinstallation on April 27, 2009
Condition of Pan
The sculpture was removed from the Collisnville Memorial Library in May 2008 and brought to RMCS for examination and conservation treatment. At the time of pick-up, the sculpture was covered with approximately half a dozen heavy coats of semi-gloss white paint. It took nearly 40 hours to remove the paint from the statue. Removal of the paint revealed subtle sculptural details and a much finer sculpture overall. However, it was also found that the sculpture suffered substantial damage to the glaze and the terra cotta over the years. The glaze is abraded, worn and chipped with large losses throughout the sculpture.
- Paint and some dark stain was removed from the sculpture.
- An anchoring system was designed and installed inside the base of the sculpture.
- The major sculptural losses were reconstructed - the index finger on Pan’s right hand, Pan’s tail and ears, the raised hoof, and lare sections along the edges of the shells on the base.
- Areas of smaller losses and damage were repaired - Pan’s eyelids, the frog’s mouth, the pan pipe, and the lower edges of the base.
- The holes in the shells on the side of the base were plugged. These were once fountain holes with piping.
- The surface of the sculpture was visually unified by painting with dry pigments over selected areas to give the final appearance of the Pan a slightly weathered but well cared for sculpture.
- The sculpture was installed on a new concrete pedestal at the Collinsville Memorial Library.
The estimated cost of the 1 year long process was $12,000.
The Collinsville Memorial Library Foundation is the custodian of the monies from the fundraising effort and continue to pay the fountain’s water usage bills and any repair costs needed to continue the Dorris Fountain and maintenance of the Pan Sculpture for the enjoyment of the community.
In March 1966 the 76 year old Magnolia Tree planted by the late Theodore Ambrosius was moved from its original site on Clay Street to the front lawn of the Collinsville Memorial Library.
The tree was scheduled to be taken down from the property owned by the Illinois Bell Telephone Company to make way for expansion of the company building. The Library Board decided to save the tree and have it moved the two blocks to the library property.
The A-C Construction Company was to move the tree which was 20 feet high and 35 feet across. It took 2 days for John Luja Nursery in French Village to prepare the tree for transplanting. At the time the tree was estimated to have 50,000 magnolia buds on it.
The landscaping crew dug up the tree and put burlap around its roots forming an 11 foot wide ball. The tree was then hoisted onto a high lift with the tree counterbalanced by about a ton of bagged rock salt on the outriggers. It was moved through the alleys of Guernsey and Main Streets to the library lawn.
Sadly within the year the Magnolia Tree died but from its roots grew the existing tree.
Collinsville Historical Museum
In 1975 as a bicentennial project, Irving Dilliard and Lucille Stehman founded the Friends of the Collinsville Historical Museum. This organization formed around the artifacts of the Collins family trunk which had been acquired by Mr. Dilliard in 1967. With humble beginnings and an offer by the Collinsville Memorial Public Library of a 1500 square foot space in the East Wing of the lower level, the Collinsville Historical Museum began to take shape.
There were not drastic changes over the years nor were there moves to larger accommodations but that did not impede the progress of this small but mighty museum. In 2000 a Conservation Assessment Program grant (CAP) documented for the first time the true extent of the collection. According to the CAP assessment conservator Jennifer Hein, the collection totaled over 10,000 individual items containing paintings, framed photographs, personal journals, documents, and physical artifacts from the Collinsville area. Some of the more notable objects in the collection are a large number of uniforms from all forms and time of military service such as a Civil War Union Officer’s military uniform and Congressional Medal of Honor; a leather bound Mein Kampf which were given to German officers by Adolf Hitler; the founding family of Colllinsville’s personal possessions; Blum’s Bell collection (Blum Cowbell Factory was one of only two in the nation); uniforms and memorabilia from famous citizens such as Art Fletcher, New York Yankee baseball great; and Tom Yeager, Olympic swimming gold medalist, and other extensive collections of toys, fashion, jewelry, et.al. Ms. Hein gave a glowing review of the collection and its volunteer curators at the time Arvil and Betty Wrigley and Floyd and Bernice Sperino for the excellence of the content and condition of the exhibits and she encouraged the volunteer group to continue its quest for a permanent home for the Historical Museum.
In 2005 word was received from the Illinois State Museum that the Collinsville Historical Museum was to be awarded a Brick and Mortar grant for construction of $ 488,300 for a new facility to house their artifacts. Through the generosity of the Collinsville Memorial Public Library Board of Trustees the building was placed on a portion of the Library’s ground on Main Street in downtown Collinsville.
On March 25, 2006 the Collinsville Historical Museum was dedicated on the grounds of the library proper through a grant written by the librarian Barbara Rhodes.
The Friends of the Museum made the decision to officially establish the Collinsville Historical Museum as an incorporated entity with 501c3 status that would be operated by an independent Board of Directors. This goal was achieved and the Board of Directors took control of the organization and established a plan for the future.
The Museum has all of the possible elements necessary to be the cohesive component for the historical community in the Collinsville area. The unique set of circumstances that exist in our area are truly special. With the Cahokia Mounds Park predating the earliest of pioneers to the homes of many of the early settlers and important citizenry to the Willoughby Farm establishing the early agricultural times and other early business establishments, our area can trace its earliest beginnings through to the present day. The goal of the Museum is to be a Clearinghouse for all of these important elements of our community and to help enhance the area’s understanding of the importance of our past to our present.
History of the Blum House
The Blum House located at 414 West Main Street in Collinsville is a home closely connected with one of the town’s most well known industries. Two of the three generations of the Blum family who operated the internationally know Blum Bell Factory lived in the house.
The property which is located immediately to the west of the Collinsville Memorial Library Center is the site of a stately two-story frame house built circa 1906. The home with its distinct wrap-around porch is graced by huge pine trees on its front and side yards. These trees, according to Mrs. Helen Blum who lived in the house until 1997 were planted in the late 1930s replacing a group of maple trees.
The house was built by J. Henry Blum and in that first decade of the 20th century was considered to be at the West edge of town. The town at that time was expanding along East Main Street. Mr. Blum had married Martha Combs in 1892 and they had three children. The couple acquired the property in August 1905 from the Combs family. There was a house on the property at the time, but it was moved to the west where it has since been torn down and converted to a parking lot.
James Combs, father of Martha Combs Blum, had acquired the property on May 23, 1876. He bought the lot from Frances J. Harlow of Franklin County, Tennessee, according to Madison County records. Upon Mr. Combs death ownership had passed to his widow Emeline Combs and their sons, daughters and spouses.
J. Henry Blum was born near Collinsville May 8, 1863, son of Mr. and Mrs. Christian Gottlieb Blum. “As a young man, Mr. Blum assisted his father who was engaged in the hardware and tinsmith business,” according to the Collinsville Herald, July 19, 1935. In 1879 when J. Henry Blum was 16 years old, Christian G. Blum started the Blum Bell Factory. The son joined his father in this new business which he was later to acquire and remain actively involved with until his death in 1935 at age 72. The pre-funeral visitation was conducted in the family home.
The house has had a few changed since its origin. Mrs. Helen Blum says the sunroom on the east side of the home was added in the late 1920s, a popular addition to homes at the time when tuberculosis was greatly feared and a sunny room was viewed as a step of prevention. The porch around the front and side of the house is as it was built with the exception of the railing around the which was added later, as remembered by Mrs. Blum.
Following J. Henry Blum’s death in 1935 his widow Martha continued to live in the home. It was a short time later when their son, also J. Henry Blum, married Helen Downey and the young couple decided to make the house their home as well. Mr. Blum received ownership of the home on September 20, 1954 when his mother deeded the property to him for ‘one dollar and natural love and affections.’ Martha Combs Blum died in 1959.
Mr. Blum was the third generation to operate the Blum Bell Factory. However, production came to an end in 1955 and the business closed. The factory at 232 Goethe Street that at one time produced as many as 100 dozen bells per day no longer exists. The bells are now collectors items.
J. Henry and Helen Blum lived their entire married life in the home at 414 West Main. They had one daughter, Virginia (Gaines) who currently lives in New Mexico. In addition to his bell factory responsibilities, Mr. Blum also served nearly 40 years as a director of Union Savings & Loan Association. He was a director emeritus at the time of his death on July 16, 1976 at the age of 74. His widow, Helen Downey Blum lived in the home until her death on January 19, 1997 at the age of 82.
Upon entering the home from the Main Street entrance, a visitor step into the large entrance area. To the right is the living room and to that left against the east wall is a wooden staircase to the second floor. A stained glass window is midway up the stairs. As one walks beyond the entryway there is a formal dining room and to its east the sunroom addition. Kitchen facilities are to the rear of the first floor. A less formal living room is on the west side of the home with an outside doorway to the curing porch.
Portion of this account written by Kenneth A. Buel
1997 to the present
In 1997 after the death of Helen Downey Blum in January, the Collinsville Building and Loan purchased the house at 414 West Main Street from Helen’s daughter Virginia Blum Gaines for $94,000 with the intention of donating it to the Collinsville Memorial Public Library. The Collinsville Memorial Library Center accepted the generous gift in June of 1997.
Through a Congressional Grant secured by Representative Jay Hoffman major renovation including windows and siding are approved for the Blum House in 2004
In December 2006 a debilitating ice storm did irreparable damage to many of the large pine
trees on the grounds of the Blum House necessitating the removal of most of them.
The Blum Bell Factory
Chances are if you have ever rung a stock-bell or ‘cow-bell’ it was manufactured in of Collinsville, Illinois. The only stock-bell company in America was operated here from 1879-1955 by the Blum family. It was one of only 3 stock-bell factories in the world.
Christian Gottlieb Blum, the founder was born in Germany in 1828. Just after the Civil War he moved from Ohio to Collinsville with his wife where he helped establish the first Lutheran Church.
Mr. Blum was a tinsmith by trade who owned a hardware store. For some years he was a ‘tin-roofer’ and developed a tool which seamed the strips of tin together. He was also a tinkerer and eventually perfected a stock-bell which soon became very popular with farmers because of its’ clear far-reaching tone.
After patenting his bell, he began to manufacture them in a small factor at 232 Goethe Street which employed 12-15 men. They could make as many as 100 dozen bells per day.
The bells were sold in virtually every country in the world. All of the bells were handmade and the original factory, molds, patterns and process were used until production stopped in 1955. The factory no longer exists.
J. Henry Blum, the grandson of Christian Blum, was the last family member operate the company.
During the last years of production many bells were sold to foreign countries as musical instruments.
The bells were numbered by size from 7 - 0. Today there are many collectors of the Blum ‘Holstein’ bells which can be found in every state.
Taken from an interview with Helen Downey BlumYou can read more about the Blum House and the history of the Blum Bell factory as written by Virginia (Blum) Gaines, daughter of J. Henry Blum and Helen Downey Blum on the Collinsville Library website at http://www.collinsvillelibrary.org/index.php/cowbellshome.html.
The Collinsville Memorial Public Library owes its start to a group of public-spirited women, members of the Collinsville Study Club. October 15, 1915 marked the day on which Mrs. John Bruso, President of the Study Club, appointed a library project committee of three members: Mrs. Charles Holding, Mrs. Charles Listeman and Mrs. A.C. Powell. Realizing the need for money the Library Committee held a Japanese tea on November 2nd which raised the modest total of $14.25. Aware they needed books for the library, a book shower was held on April 14th which brought in a goodly total of 80 volumes of assorted kinds. Having secured permission from the City Council to use the second floor of the City Hall for library purposes, the library opened its doors on August 26, 1916 with a single bookcase of some three or four shelves displaying 121 books. Total financial resources had reached the princely sum of $40.02. The first librarian Mabelle Holding who later became Mrs. Webster Echols contributed her services for the few hours the library was open each week.
Soon the list of patrons passed 25 and the hold of card #10 was a grade school pupil named Irving Dilliard. Twenty years later he became a member of the Library Board and served as president for 50 years.
After the temporary quarter in the City Hall the library did some little moving about. On July 14, 1917 it settled in the Henry Stumpf house at the northeast corner of Church and Clinton Streets. In the midst of World War I the library moved her books and operations on March 8, 1918 to the second floor of the Miner’s Institute building and there it stayed for five years.
A major development came on March 2, 1919 when a community-wide library organization was formed with representatives of the Study Club, Household Science Club, Orpheus Club, Commercial Club and the Miners Union.
During 1923 a lot of library history was made. In January of that year the library was opened six days a week. A community-wide Library Board was set up by the women’s clubs and on May 15, 1923 this expanded community group voted to ask the City Council of Collinsville for tax support. The city officials took the petition under advisement, studied the matter carefully and on July 23, 1923 approved an ordinance providing for the maintenance of the library by means of a 1.8-mil tax.
On August 1 at the suggestion of the Royal Purple Temperance and Library Society, the name of the library was changed to the Collinsville Memorial Public Library in honor of the Collinsville ‘Soldiers who fell in the late war.’ The first municipal Board of Trustees took office in that same month of August 1923 and that the month marked still another move of the library, this time to the second floor of the Ideal Market building on the north side of Main Street east of Center Street.
Having served its purpose and ready to close activities with the establishment of federal prohibition, on April 30, 1925 the Royal Purple Temperance and Library Society donated approximately $4,500 in property and cash toward a new library. By September 1, 1927 the library purchased the Stephen W. Renfro house at 408 West Main Street and at last the library had a home of its own.
The next decade saw many advances including adoption of evening hours; opening of a children’s department ; purchase of metal shelving; start of proper cataloging of books; membership in the Illinois and American Library Associations and monthly circulation of 5,000 books.
The library turned the depression of the 1930s to benefit by applying for and obtaining a federal public works project grant of $9,000 toward the erection of a new building. The City Council of Collinsville approved the additional funds required.
Once again the Library moved. This time so the two-story home at 408 West Main Street could be razed and the central portion of the present colonial structure built on the site. With the library for one more time upstairs in the City Hall, site clearing began on February 6, 1937. Horse-powered excavation began on February 24 and the first brick was laid March 19. It was completed on July 31, dedicated on August 15 in observation of the centennial of the platting of Collinsville in 1837. The next day the library was opened to public use.
Since the original construction in 1937 the library has obtained two pieces of from property on each side of the original library ground, removed these dwellings and added an east wind and a west wing as part of a wing structure.
The west wing built in 1962-63 included enlargement of the book and reading room space. In 1966-67 the west wing was added along with the development of a children’s room, expansion of the reference area, enlargement of the office and staff space and research and record rooms.
In front of the library is the Dorris fountain presented in 1938 as a tribute by teachers and pupils of the Collinsville Schools to Charter Trustee Charles H. Dorris who was Collinsville Public School Superintendent from 1900-1937. The central figure in the fountain is a statue of Pan by the sculptor, Carl Christian Mose.
On the front of the building are bronze tablets with Collinsville military dead from World War I, World War II and the Korean Conflict.Portions of this Collinsville Library history taken from excerpts of writings of Florence Burkholder, Librarian.
A temporary trial library was open in Fairmont City in the May of 2007 at the Holy Rosary School. It was opened at the end of the school year in the unattached classroom building.
Mississippi Valley Library District rented the small hall and front foyer as a temporary location
for the Library Center which was envisioned to serve the western areas of the Library District due
to lack of transportation and resources for that population.
The Board of Trustees decided to purchase the American Legion building for a number of
1. To move into the area in a more expedient manner for the population of State Park and
2. To help sustain the American Legion Post 961 legacy.
3. To retain a historical building for the area.
Costs associated with the immediate needs of the building to sustain a library.
Main Circulation Desk Free from Roxana Public Library
Shelving from Addison Public Library $1,500.00
Transportation of the shelving (Dibble Moving) $5,015.00
Reconstruction & Installation (Miller & Maack)
7 Computers with monitors $5,305.00
5 laptops $4,242.00
Receipt printer $ 327.00
Oce printer $8,000.00
Interior renovation of Bar and front desk area $20,589.00
Collier Appraisers LTD completed a survey and appraisal for the building and ground owned by
the American Legion Post 961 on May 5, 2009. The appraisal was officially $185,000.
The Board of Trustees offered the appraisal price and it was accepted. Through negotiations with
the American Legion two payments of $92,500 - one given in 2009 and one in 2010 - was
The building was in need of renovation for ADA and safety upgrades and the interior needed
improvement. Grants were immediately sought for restoration and improvement.
The United States Department of Agriculture Division of Rural Development
A grant program which included ADA accessibility and renovation for new restrooms, new main
entrance and new 24 hour book and mail drop was offered for $67,000. The Library District was
expected to allocate a minimum of 25% of the project (initially $22,438). Change orders included
abatement and unexpected problems encountered due to the age of the building and hidden issues
in walls and ceilings.
Original Quote (WG Services) $89,752.00
Change orders $ 5,410.15
Total of Project $95,162.15
Eliminate the Digital Divide grant
This grant came through the office of the Illinois State Library funded by the Dept. Of Commerce
and Economic Opportunity for the amount of $26,000 with no matching funds necessary by the
Items purchased for the building through this grant:
Furniture: 4 tall tables, 12 short tables, 18 bar stools, 32 regular chairs
Teaching Lab: 8 tables, 50 stacking chairs
Equipment: 16 camera security system
55" LCD television with Flat Panel Cart with storage
7 desktop computers
Various smaller pieces / accessories
Illinois State Library Construction grant
Since the construction grant amounts were cut in half (from $250,000 to $125,000 per project
with the ability to ask every 3 years), it was decided to try to complete the process of restoration
of the building in 2 stages - the exterior and the interior.
In January 2011 the Construction grant was presented to the Illinois State Library requesting the
amount of $125,000 with a matching amount from the Library District of no less than $133,000.
On April 11, 2011 an award letter was issued to the Library District by the Secretary of State in
Illinois accepting our proposal and awarding the Library District $125,000 with work to begin in
September of 2011. An extension until the Spring of 2012 was awarded due to the winter season
and the fact that all of the work was on the exterior of the building and grounds.
On March 5, 2012 bids were open by all participating contractors. The lowest certified bid was
from Construction Concepts from Glen Carbon, IL for $346,793.
On March 18, 2012 the Board of Trustees of the Mississippi Valley Library District unanimously
approved to accept Construction Concepts bid to renovate the exterior of the Fairmont City
Village of Fairmont City approved a TIF distribution of $30,155 for essential utility upgrading which will include electrical system and plumbing upgrade which will include a lift station.
Two lighting grants completely brought in new wiring as needed and more energy efficient lighting - $15,400.
The Bank of Edwardsville expressed an interested in using a portion of the Fairmont City Library Center as a satellite bilingual banking center. An agreement between the Board of Trustees and The Bank of Edwardsville to approve a 5 year license of the banking center in the Northeast section (the old Bar area of the American Legion) building was granted after The Bank of Edwardsville offered to refurbish the inside of the building not only for their space but to renovate the space that the library would be using.