100 Years / 100 Stories

100 Years/100 Stories is an expanding collection of stories from our community, as told through written word, photography, audio, and video. They are all unique, and yet they share a similar thread of living and learning in Saint Paul. We are proud to have been a gathering place for Saint Paul residents for 100 years and look forward to serving the city for 100 more.

Arlington Hills Library turns 100

Arlington Hills has a rich history, spanning multiple buildings and renovations. From 1905 to 1917, the neighborhood was served by a “library station.” The original permanent library, built in 1917 at the corner of Greenbrier and Jessamine Avenue East and funded by Andrew Carnegie, now houses the East Side Freedom Library.

Arlington Hills Library turns 100

Arlington Hills has a rich history, spanning multiple buildings and renovations. From 1905 to 1917, the neighborhood was served by a “library station.” The original permanent library, built in 1917 at the corner of Greenbrier and Jessamine Avenue East and funded by Andrew Carnegie, now houses the East Side Freedom Library.

From 1905 to 1917 the Arlington Hills neighborhood was served by a “library station” located in Bodin’s Drug Store. In 1917, a permanent structure was opened, funded by Andrew Carnegie and designed by city architect Charles Hausler. Built in the Beaux-Arts style, the building is graced with classical columns and sculptural details.

This neighborhood has historically been home to Saint Paul’s newest residents. More than 100 years of library services have continually evolved to serve immigrants of Swedish, Irish, Italian, Mexican, Hmong, Latino, and African origins.

Arlington Hills Library was modernized in 1958 and renovated in 1987 and 1997.

In 2014, public library services moved to Arlington Hills Community Center. The Carnegie library building became home to East Side Freedom Library, dedicated to the work and residential history of the East Side.

Leonard Larson's Story

The boy in this old photograph is Leonard Larson. We see him with his father and his sister, Florence……

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Leonard Larson's Story

Author: Beth Burns (President of the The Friends of the Saint Paul Public Library)

The boy in this old photograph is Leonard Larson. We see him with his father and his sister, Florence…

“taking it easy” in the side yard of his family’s home at 1288 Edgerton St.

In-between is a deep trench where the city is bringing Hyacinth Ave. through to interact with Edgerton.

Leonard was born in St. Paul in 1905 and is twelve or thirteen years old when this picture was taken. He has two sisters and four brothers. He is a student at Phalen Park School and will later graduate from Johnson High School.

The father is Otto Larson. He was born in Sweden and came to the USA when he was twenty-eight years old. He learned English, became a citizen and built a house for his family on this property.

Is Leonard reading a book that he has borrowed from the new Arlington Hills Public Library in his neighborhood? We can’t know for certain, but it is possible!!

Leonard was a public library patron wherever he called home. He lived to be 83 years old and was a constant reader.

"Sweet memories" of Arlington in the '50s

When my friends and I tired of our play on hot summer afternoons in the mid-1950s, we might decide to go to the library. Our parents assumed that we, as 10-year-olds, could safely go about the neighborhood by ourselves. We would walk to the Arlington Branch Library along our elm-shaded…

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"Sweet memories" of Arlington in the '50s

Author: Adele Greenlee

When my friends and I tired of our play on hot summer afternoons in the mid-1950s, we might decide to go to the library. Our parents assumed that we, as 10-year-olds, could safely go about the neighborhood by ourselves. We would walk to the Arlington Branch Library along our elm-shaded street to sunny commercial Payne Avenue, and then up Geranium Avenue the Arlington Branch Library. Inside the library, we walked into quiet. On hot days, the hanging lights were sometimes turned off, but the tall windows provided soft natural lighting, and the whirling fans provided a measure of coolness. The library’s open space was one open room, but little nooks and corners were created by bookshelves jutting out from each side of the large windows. My space was the children’s fiction section. One shelf had a small glass case where the librarians would create book-related dioramas. Seeing all the reading possibilities gave me a feeling of quiet excitement. I would pick out new books to try but would also chose one of my favorites to read again: the Betsy-Tacy series (Lovelace), Anne of Green Gable series (Montgomery), Skating Shoes and the other Shoe books (Streatfield), Heidi (Spyri), The Jennifer Wish books (Smith), and Nobody’s Girl (Malot).

Coming home, I would say good-bye to my friends and settle in on our front porch to decide which book I should choose to read first. It wouldn’t take long for me to become totally engrossed in my reading and oblivious to what was happening around me. My favorite book characters and their worlds became almost as real to me as my own life.

I did not own many of my own books, and our school, Phalen Park Elementary, did not have a library, so it was the public library that provided most of my reading. Thinking about my childhood visits to the small but beautiful Carnegie library and remembering the books I loved flood me with sweet memories. Thank you, Saint Paul Public Library and Happy 100th anniversary!

#bannedbooksweek2017 display at @stpaullibrary Arlington -- "Azka--Banned books" with a big picture of a Dementor! ❤️

Former Saint Paul Mayor Jim Scheibel addresses a crowd on the East Side in 1987

Bruce Vento and former Saint Paul Mayor Jim Scheibel

StoryKit: An Interview with Frank Ramos III

Share Your Own Story!

SPPL has developed a set of fun, easy-to-use tools that allow you to share YOUR story. Explore our tools below.

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