Saturday, January 28, 2017

Calumet & Hecla Library, Calumet, Michigan


Almost a full decade before Carnegie money found its way to the Copper Country, it was financial support from another capitalist with more local ties that brought the first dedicated library building to the region. That man was Alexander Agassiz, president of the Calumet and Hecla Mining Company. Like Carnegie, Agassiz was an immigrant from humble beginnings that by happenstance and hard work was able to take advantage of the industrial transformation of the country to garner himself great power and wealth. As president of the great C&H Empire, Agassiz leveraged his company’s wealth and prestige to keep his workforce as content as possible through an industrial governance known as paternalism.  Towards that goal the company provided its workforce with cheap housing, public baths at its bathhouse,  free healthcare through its hospital, and assisted in the erection of churches on company property. In 1896 the company added yet another fringe benefit to its offerings – a public library. []

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