Sumner Library

You can read about the history and designation of the Sumner Library historic landmark.


Interior and Exterior



Address: 611 Emerson Avenue North

Neighborhood: Near North

Construction Date: 1915

Contractor: Unknown

Architect: Cecil Bayless Chapman

Architectural Style: Tudor Revival

Historic Use: Public - Library Branch

Current Use: Public - Library Branch

Date of Local Designation: 1997

Date of National Register Designation: 2000

Area(s) of Significance: Social History, Significant Person, Architecture

Period of Significance: 1915-

Historic Profile: The Sumner Library neighborhood branch played a crucial role in the accommodation of new immigrant populations in the early part of the twentieth century. Located on Olson Memorial Parkway, the Sumner Branch was especially helpful to the large influx of Jewish immigrants on the near north side of Minneapolis. A survey conducted during the early years of operation revealed that approximately 95 percent of library card holders were Jewish. As a result, the city’s entire Yiddish and Hebrew collections were placed at Sumner. The vision of Gratia Countryman, the first chief librarian in Minneapolis, to bring residents closer to educational resources was fully realized at the Sumner location. Of the thirteen branch libraries opened during Countryman’s tenure from 1904 to 1936, the Sumner Branch perhaps played the most active role in the community. English courses as well as numerous clubs and social services met at the library. Funded by the Carnegie Corporation, the Tudor Revival style used by architect Cecil Bayless Chapman distinguished the building in the working class neighborhood.

Photo Credits:

1940, courtesy of The Minnesota Historical Society

2006, Minneapolis CPED

Works Cited:

"City of Minneapolis Heritage Preservation Commission Registration Form," May 1996.

Updated: February 2007

Contact us

Community Planning & Economic Development

Historic Preservation




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