The Stephens Memorial Library, photo taken in 1979.
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Stephens, Henry, Memorial Library
213 West St. Clair, Almont - Lapeer County
Other Names Henry Stephens Memorial Library
Property Type library
Historic Use EDUCATION/library
Current Use EDUCATION/library
Style Colonial Revival
Architect/Builder AL THAYER
Narrative Description The Stephens Memorial Library is a symmetrical, one-story, five-bay, rectangular, white-painted, brick, Colonial Revival building. Facing northward, the library has a modillion cornice and contrasting red brick basement and corner quoins, which extend upward to form the ends of gable parapets, which are, in turn, capped by large end chimneys. The formal composition includes regularly spaced, double-hung windows-- each with a transom sash above-- and a prominent, central, fanlight-crowned entrance topped by a projecting arched hood supported by consoles. A one-story, gable roof, brick annex was added to the rear of the library at its west end in 1988.
Statement of Significance Henry Stephens (1823-1885), a native of Dublin, Ireland, arrived in Almont in 1845. Through a succession of shrewd business maneuvers, he made a fortune as a hardware dealer and as a lumber merchant. Logging operators came from miles around to his store, which also carried saw and shingle mill equipment and building supplies. When Almont became incorporated in 1865, Stephens' name was listed first among the principal businesses and firms in the village in the 1884 "History of Lapeer County." In 1873, Stephens saw real opportunity when the construction of the Detroit and Bay City Railroad opened large tracts of high quality pine. Stephens persuaded his neighbors, bankers Uriel Townsend and F.P. Currier, as well as J.S. Johnson, to invest a total of $75,000 in a tract located eight miles northeast of the city of Lapeer, and extending to Fish Lake. There he built a sawmill and a community of two hundred and seventy-five. When the stand of pine ran out in 1883, Stephens moved the entire operation to St. Helen, Michigan. He then retired and moved to Detroit, but constructed a summer home in Romeo where he died. Albert L. Stephens, Henry's younger son, who served as his father's business manager during the elder Stephens' lumbering years, donated the funds to construct the library building. The library was completed in 1918. The Henry Stephens Memorial Library is a contributing structure in the West St. Clair Street Historic District, listed in the National Register of Historic Places on May 8, 1986.
Marker Name Henry Stephens Memorial Library
Marker Text HENRY STEPHENS MEMORIAL LIBRARY Henry Stephens (1823-1886), a native of Dublin, Ireland, was a merchant, lumberman and financier. One of Almont's earliest settlers, Stephens established the first mercantile business here. In 1845 he built a sawmill north of Lapeer. When the pine forests in this area were depleted, he moved to Richfield Township in Roscommon County, building a mill and founding the village of St. Helen. Stephens also had a summer home in Romeo. In 1916, his youngest son, Albert Stephens, offered to fund the construction of a library in honor of his father. The following year, local contractor Al Thayer erected this Georgian Revival building. An addition was erected in 1987. The library is part of the West St. Clair Street National Register Historic District.
Period of Significance 1901-1930
Significant Date(s) 1918
Registry Type(s) 01/24/1996 Marker erected
05/16/1991 State Register listed
Site ID# P23843