While Paulding County is home to the first county library in the United States to be funded by Andrew Carnegie, our neighboring county to the south - Van Wert - holds the honor of having the first county library in the United States. Having been born and raised here, I've been in both of them too many times to count. Both are beautiful historical buildings.
For the past 12-plus years, the Evergreen Garden Club has been in charge of decorating the Brumback Library in Van Wert for Christmas. As a member of that club, my mother has been involved in helping with the decorations. This year, she asked to borrow Kara's American Girl doll, Samantha, and some of her accoutrements for use in the decorating.
The decorating theme was Victorian, since the Brumback Library was born during that time. According to the Ohio Bicentennial Commission's historical marker sign located in front of the library:
When local banker and businessman John Sanford Brumback left a large bequest to Van Wert County for the purpose of establishing a countywide library in 1897, such institutions did not yet exist, and Ohio had no legal provision for a tax-supported county library system. In response, the Ohio Legislature passed an enabling law in April 1898, marking the beginning of the country library system in the United States. Designed by Toledo architect David L. Stine and built of Bedford limestone in an eclectic Romanesque style, the Brumback Library was dedicated in 1901. Added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1979, it continues to serve as a center of knowledge for all of Van Wert County.
Located on Main Street (which is also the Lincoln Highway), just west of the downtown business area and across from Fountain Park, the Brumback Library sits stately in its own park-like setting and commands attention as you pass by. But take the time to stop and go inside and you'll be greeted by beautiful original oak woodwork and library furniture, marble columns, a fireplace, and cozy alcoves for reading. The original mosaic tile flooring and domed ceilings add to the ambience, hinting at the history that has passed through these doors before you.
In 1991, a 10,500 square feet addition was added to the west side of the original building which was also renovated at that time, funded by a gift from Mr. Orville and Miss Ellen Reed.
The Brumback Library currently has five branches located in Convoy, Wren, Ohio City, Middle Point and Willshire.