Chapter Two: The Hawkins Legacy

First in a Series by Mike Whittlesey
For the first 30 years of its existence, the public library in La Porte City was housed in what was called the “Municipal Building” – present day City Hall. By the time the nation was celebrating its Bicentennial in 1976, the community’s need for expanded space for municipal services, along with the desire for some form of a community civic center, had city leaders exploring all possibilities for the best location(s) for where these services could be delivered.

True Story
Once upon-a-time a kindly couple lived on a hill in a small town where they were well known for their beautiful flower gardens. The gentleman served his community for a time as mayor and because the couple loved their community and had no children, they often talked about what they could do for their town.
During the time the gentleman was mayor, a new library was started in the town, and as it grew, so did an
idea. The couple envisioned a new library (with their name over the door) that people of all ages could enjoy. It was a happy thought, although the couple wasn’t at all sure there would be money enough for such a project. The years past and death came; first to the gentleman- then to his wife. And then one day officials were notified that the couple had, indeed, made provision for their dream.

Recognize the story? The gentleman and his wife were Roy and Anna Hawkins. The town is La Porte City. The bequest is the $80,578 plus interest left to the La Porte City Library Board by the Hawkins. Relatives of the couple agree that a new library with their name on it was what the couple wanted if funds allowed. Two weeks ago a survey by the Civic Center Steering Committee indicated this seemed to be what LPC citizens want too. When queried about moving City Hall the common response seemed to be “Move the Library – then City Hall will have all the room it needs.”

In Motion
The wheels are in motion. Right now they’re not all turning the same way but friction is the forerunner of
progress. As a town we can no longer be labeled apathetic. Everybody has an opinion and that’s good! Now
we have to settle the best of ideas for the best of reasons.
We keep saying PLAN … and we mean it. Plan Main Street: Plan City Hall: Plan the Library: Plan a Civic Center. Then work the plan. Roy and Anna Hawkins had a dream – it became a plan. They trusted the residents of this community to carry it for them.
The next Civic Center Steering Committee meeting will be May 10. The people involved are putting forth a conscientious effort to pick the minds of the public and to serve them justly. Find one of these people and speak your piece- they are anxious to represent you.
The Progress Review, May 4, 1977

So it was a bequest of $80,000 from Anna B. Hawkins, who died on December 17, 1974, and City Hall’s need for additional space that ultimately changed the name and location of La Porte City’s public library. The issue remained on the front burner of local politics for several years. On June 24, 1980, La Porte City voters rejected a $90,000 bond issue for a new public library. Despite that rejection, a new facility at 308 Main Street was ultimately constructed to house Hawkins Memorial Library.

Library, City Hall Move Toward Solution Of Building Problem
The Library – City Hall situation was pushed toward solution at a meeting between the Library Board and the City Council Monday, February 27. Library Board chairman Ruth Redman asked the City Council to give the Board direction so they are able to proceed with plans to either enlarge and improve present facilities or look for a new location.
Regional Library Consultant Beverly Lind was present at the meeting. She commented that long range planning indicates a need for 4,700 square feet to be adequate for the next 20 years, and the present location falls short of that requirement.
The Council authorized Mayor Kullmer to contact a local contractor regarding a feasibility study of present city property to be completed in 30 days. The study will assess the possibilities of using the old depot building for all city offices.
The Progress Review, March 8, 1977

Library Move Completed
Volunteer helpers completed moving of the contents of the La Porte City Library from the old to the new building in two days last week. As the new Library takes shape, the old Library facility which has served City readers since 1945 has been bared to the walls, ready for renovation and use as city offices. The building is listed in the National Register of Historic Places. The extra space to be occupied by city offices is 21 by 24 feet, approximately two-and-a-half times the space presently used for City offices.
The library was expected to remain closed yet this week as volunteers complete the task of shelving the thousands of volumes available to the reading public.
The Progress Review, October 14, 1981

Council Names New Facility “Hawkins Memorial Library”
The La Porte City Council passed a resolution October 12 [1981]naming the new La Porte City library the “Hawkins Memorial Library” in honor of Roy and Anna Hawkins whose generous bequest made the new building possible.
Mr. Hawkins was Mayor of La Porte City and was instrumental in establishment of the library in 1945. His wife Anna was a vigorous supporter of the establishment and expansion of the library.
The Library Board had recommended that the Library be named in honor of the Hawkins whose $80,000 bequest plus the interest it accumulated covered the major portion of the cost.
Now Open: The Library opened in its new location on Main Street Monday, October 19. An open house will be held later this year when organizational work is completed.
Regular hours will be 2 to 5 p.m. Mondays thru Saturdays with evening hours of 7 to 9 on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays. Story Hour for pre-schoolers is 10 to 10:45 a.m. every Friday. Librarian Connie Ross is assisted by Helen Hoppe, Liz Winther, Lola Lewis and Becky Ross.
The Progress Review, October 21, 1981