- Associated Press - Monday, November 23, 2015

SAGINAW, Mich. (AP) - Saginaw’s Hoyt Library has been a monument to the strength of Saginaw and a fortress protecting its knowledge for more than 125 years.

The main branch in the Public Libraries of Saginaw system, Hoyt opened to the public on Nov. 1, 1890, and is celebrating its 125th anniversary.

The city’s leaders recently recognized the institution’s history and contributions to the community through a City Council proclamation. The Saginaw News (https://bit.ly/1Oe2tPS ) reports.

“Through times of recession and prosperity, war and peace, the Hoyt Public Library of Saginaw has continued to serve the citizens of Saginaw as a place of learning, culture and community,” the proclamation states. “The Hoyt Public library stands as a Saginaw landmark where it is continues to be a visible sign of the strength, endurance, and vision of the people of Saginaw.”

The library draws its name from New York’s Jesse Hoyt, one of the early founders of East Saginaw, later consolidated with the city of Saginaw to form the modern city. Through their agent, Norman Little, Hoyt and his brothers had stakes in all of Saginaw’s early industries including lumber, railroads, salt, banking and buildings including the Bancroft House hotel still located at the intersection of Washington and Genesee.

Though Hoyt was never officially a city resident, he is credited as one of the key pioneers responsible for settling and developing East Saginaw in the 1800s.

When Hoyt died in 1882, a $100,000 bequeath included in his will was released to East Saginaw for the purpose of establishing a library.

The library was designed by the Boston firm Van Brunt and Howe, though many also see the influence of notable architect H.H. Richardson, who submitted plans for Saginaw’s library but was rejected. Students of architecture point to the heavy Romanesque exterior, large limestone blocks and red sandstone trim typical of Richardson’s work.

Construction work began in 1887 and principal construction material for the outer walls was Bay Port limestone from the Bay Port quarries near the tip of Michigan’s Thumb area. A special railroad was constructed to bring the stone to East Saginaw. Lake Superior quarries supplied the red sandstone used for exterior trim.

When it opened on Nov. 1, 1890, just eight months after the consolidation of Saginaw and East Saginaw took effect, Hoyt Library featured 20,000 volumes, a lecture hall, a meeting room and a trustees room.

The library has been expanded twice, once in 1920 and again in 1960, and renovated twice as well, in 1977 and 1994.

In 1994, the library separated from the public school district to become an independent district library. The same year, voters passed a millage increase to help restore and improve library buildings.

The massive renovation effort included repairs to the huge stone walls, a new underground storage room, the addition of more than 130 electrical and data outlets and 28 computer stations.

Hoyt Library’s staff held a celebration at the historic facility on Sept. 26 to mark the library’s 125th birthday. The party included stories, a puppet show and, of course, cake.

Supposedly haunted by the ghosts of librarians and patrons past, the structure is the subject of the most recent film in the “Haunted Saginaw” documentary series, which premiered on Nov. 6 at the Temple Theater.

Hoyt Library is open to the public from noon to 8 p.m. on Mondays and Thursdays, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, and from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays.

In addition to its other collections, Hoyt also serves as one of 1,400 libraries in the United States designated as Federal Depository Libraries, with public access to federal government publications. The library’s second floor features a local history and genealogy room.

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Information from: The Saginaw News, https://www.mlive.com/saginaw

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