News and Observations from Wapella, Illinois: Home of the Wildcats.

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Saturday, February 23, 2008

Xenians Octagons to the West

Unlike our fair Village, Atlanta, Illinois became a city in 1869, replacing the previous towns of New Castle and Xenia in naming Atlanta as an Illinois City.

While Atlanta (much like Wapella) has been hit with 10's of tornadoes, floods, a rare economic boom, and a common economic bust, well-built buildings do survive. Right off of old Route 66, in Atlanta, stands one of the most beautiful libraries in the State of Illinois.

The library (yes, it is Octagonal) was designed by the late Bloomington architect, Paul Moratz, and dedicated on March 28, 1908. The Bloomington Pantagraph celebrates the 100th anniversary here, in a testimony to civic pride and appreciation of fine buildings and their relationship to function in the community.

This from the Lincoln Courier:

Although several of Moratz’s buildings featured rounded portions, the Atlanta Library is his only known octagon-shaped library.

Many private residences were built in an octagon shape in the mid-19th century, inspired by eccentric writer and speaker Orson Squire Fowler.

Fowler’s promotion of the buildings mirrored the era’s fascination with modern technologies, efficiency and fitness. He explained that an octagon-shaped structure offered “one-fifth more room for its wall,” plus better air circulation and more light.”

Those features may also have swayed Moratz and his clients when they chose the footprint for Atlanta’s library.

The building was erected at a cost of $9,500 ($216,605 in 2007 dollars) by Joseph Reichel of El Paso.

The upper floor houses books. Over the past century, the collection has grown to 13,200 books, periodicals and audio-visual materials.

Last year, the library recorded 4,600 visits. Forty-eight percent of all check-outs were children’s materials.

My understanding is that the interior is superb, but I cannot find a photo. And if you think you can build this for $216,605 you are kidding yourself. The Octagonal Building Craze never really caught fire, but there is a website devote to Octagonal building here.


Anonymous said...

Well done Mr. Mod. The public library should be a jewel in every community.

Any Templar theme here?

What about Chuck Norris?


Anonymous said...

Did you know that Wapella had a library at one time. Housed in the Wapella village hall and Dorothy Borland was libarian. Books eventually went to the schools.

Anonymous said...

32% of the visits were from a G Westbrook Wapella according to town records

Anonymous said...

I think alot of Wapella folks had libraries at their homes. Mainly consisting of TV Guides and a bunch of old Playboys

Anonymous said...

So there won't be any writer's conferences in Hog City any time soon?

The Girls Next Door don't count.


Anonymous said...

And what good were the TV Guides when there were NO TV's.

Anonymous said...

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Anonymous said...

I was in an octogonal room today. I liked it. Makes me wonder why other neglected polygons have not been tried. Why not a septagon? Or a nonagon?


Anonymous said...


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