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Original library desk returns to Cloquet museum

The original circulation desk of the Shaw Memorial Library from 1919 has returned to its original home, now the Carlton County Historical Society at 406 Cloquet Ave., Cloquet. Special to the Pine Journal

The Carlton County Historical Society received a welcome addition to the museum recently. The original circulation desk that once greeted library patrons at the old Shaw Memorial Library is now back in its home place, greeting visitors as they enter the museum.

When the Shaw Memorial Library building was built in 1919, after the 1918 fire destroyed the first library building on the same spot, the new building featured quarter-sawn white-oak woodwork, library shelves and a 16-foot-long front desk. The Cloquet Public Library used this desk to check books in and out until they moved to the new library building on 14th Street in 1987.

The same day the library moved out, the Carlton County Historical Society moved in with the plan to make the building into a museum. Until 1993, the historical society used the circulation desk to greet people and display items. Sometime after 1993, the historical society decided to have the large desk removed from the museum and offered it to the Cloquet Middle School to use in their library.

Now that the middle school has completed its new building, they are moving out of the old middle school. Since the middle school no longer needs the old library desk, the historical society asked if they could have the desk returned to its original home. Middle school principal Tom Brenner readily agreed and had planned to return it all along.

During the last week of June, four men from the Carlton County Courthouse brought the two sides of the desk up the front stairs of the museum and put them in place. It took two trucks and two trips to complete the move and assembly, then a half day for museum staff to clean it.

"After an absence of 20-some years, the desk looks just stunning in its original location!" exclaimed CCHS director Rachael Martin. "The desk blends in so perfectly with the rest of the quarter sawn white oak woodwork that many museum members didn't even notice that it's a new addition. It truly blends in because it was made to fit the space, style and function of the building.

"You must come and see the unique historic craftsmanship of this 97-year-old original library circulation desk for yourself. It might bring back some memories!" she added.

The museum is located at 406 Cloquet Ave. and is open five days a week, Tuesdays through Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.