Franklin Library

Read about the history and designation of the Franklin Library historic landmark.


The Franklin Library is one of the first libraries in the city, built to serve the Phillips neighborhood. 

  • Location: 1314 Franklin Avenue East 
  • Neighborhood: Ventura Village 

Historic photo (1914)

Franklin Library Historic Landmark 1914




Current photo (2006)

Franklin Library Historic Landmark 2006




  • Architectural Style: Renaissance Revival
  • Architect: Edward L. Tilton


  • Historic use: Institutional
  • Current use: Institutional


  • Construction date: 1914
  • Contractor: J. and W. A. Elliot 


  • Area(s) of significance: Social History; Education; Significant Individual; Architecture
  • Period of significance: 1914 -1996
  • Date of local designation: 1997
  • Date of National Register designation: 2000
  • Designation: Exterior

Historic profile

The Franklin Library is one of the first libraries in the city, built to serve the Phillips neighborhood. 

The Franklin Library was built in 1914. It was designed by prominent New York City architect Edward L. Tilton. Tilton is known for his library and public building designs. The Franklin Library is a one-story Italian Renaissance Revival style building. It has a symmetrical façade.  It has light brown brick and terra cotta details. The arched and square windows are large with decorative molding. It was the first of four local libraries built with funds from the Carnegie Corporation. It was built on land donated by the wealthy McKnight family.  

The neighborhood's population was growing rapidly at this time, mostly of Swedish immigrants. Libraries served as educational and cultural centers for neighborhoods in the city. The Franklin Library housed a collection of Scandinavian print materials. It was the largest of this type in the country. It moved to the Central Library in 1961. More Black and Native American residents moved to the area throughout the 1970s. The library added services to meet changing needs. 

Gratia Alta Countryman was head librarian when the Franklin Library was built. She developed 13 neighborhood branch libraries during her tenure from 1904 to 1936. Her ability to secure funding more than quadrupled the budget. Countryman was a founding member of the American Library Association. The Franklin Library is one of many small library branches that furthered educational and cultural services in the city.  

The Franklin Library is still open in south Minneapolis today. 


Photo credit

  • 1914 photo: Charles Hibbard, courtesy of the Minnesota Historical Society 
  • 2006 photo: Minneapolis Department of Community Planning and Economic Development

Work cited

  • Garneth O. Peterson, "City of Minneapolis Heritage Preservation Commission Registration Form: Franklin Branch Library," December 1996
  • Susan Granger and Kay Grossman, “National Register of Historic Places Registration Form: Franklin Branch Library,” December 1998

Contact us

Community Planning & Economic Development

Historic Preservation




Public Service Center
505 Fourth Ave. S., Room 320
Minneapolis, MN 55415