Ladies Library Association
Nelson Breech Nave
The Kalamazoo Ladies' Library Association (LLA) is the first women's club in Michigan and the third in the nation. The association influenced the development of women's organizations throughout the upper Midwest and promoted the cause of equal education for women. Guided in part by Lucinda Hinsdale Stone, a local educator and world traveler, the association was known as a "college for women."
The association began formal meetings in private homes in 1852 under the guise of sewing group gatherings. During these gatherings, books were read aloud as women sewed. Later the group met in rented spaces around the town.
A diligent acquisition of books led to the creation of a subscription library, the very first library in Kalamazoo. Twenty years later the LLA became the first women's organization in the nation to gain the right to finance and own property. In 1902 the Kalamazoo LLA became a member of the International and State of Michigan General Federation of Women's Clubs.
The present Ladies' Library Association building was built in 1878 through fundraising by its all-female membership. A Kalamazoo landmark for many years, the building is recorded both as a State Historic Site and a National Historic Landmark. Considered to be a fine example of the late "Venetian Gothic" style, it is known for its brick, stone and tile exterior and stained glass windows. A second-floor auditorium has been the site for artistic and cultural events since the building opened.
In 2013, construction of our 21st Century Capital Campaign project was completed. This included an addition and renovations bringing the building up to current building and fire safety codes and up to American Disabilities Act standards. These improvements were in keeping with the style and structure of the original building from 1878.
The architect specified an EleVAder™ Elevator System to compliment this landmark historic building modernization. The EleVader system enabled the elevator system to be ASTM Elevator Code approved and will provide reliable service for the next 100 years.