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Carl & Mary Welhausen Library

Our History

The Library was organized in 1933 by the Philomathic Club with the help of Work Project Administration (the WPA commonly refers to the many agencies established by the Federal Government in the 1930s during Franklin D. Roosevelt’s administration). A gentleman by the name of J.W. Cook offered space in the back of his office to house the newly organized library.  In 1955, the Library was moved to a building in another part of town, known as the “Beck Building”, where it remained until 1968, then relocated to a building formerly utilized as City Hall.

City financial support began in 1942; however, the Library was officially accepted as part of the City’s organization in 1971.  Librarian, Virginia Ferrell was hired in 1975 and served for over 29 years.  Her leadership was essential in the development of the Library as it is today.  The Library became a member of the South Texas Library System in 1976.  The first ever, Library Board was formed in December, 1970 followed by the Friends of the Library Organization in 1978.

City officials offered their old Municipal Power Plant to the Friends of the Library after it had been deemed of historic significance and worthy of adaptive reuse. The plant had previously been utilized as the City’s Mechanic Garage for approximately 20 years.

Renovation began in 1988 backed by generous financial donations from the citizens of Yoakum, the primary donor being, Carl and Mary Welhausen for whom the Library has been named.  Other funding for the project included a $100,000 matching federal grant and $50,000 from the Meadows Foundation. The project came to completion in 1991, and the opening dedication was held on Sunday, April 21, 1991.

Our Library was named a “Historic Site” by the Texas Historical Commission in 1993; and a historical marker was placed in front of the building. The 50 foot ceilings, mezzanine, original brick walls, 3-bay primary façade, large metal sash windows, a 5-part parapet with incised name block, and gable roof with protruding clerestory windows serve as a reminder of Yoakum’s rich history.

The Library has received the “Best Adaptive Reuse of an Existing Building Award” from the Texas Downtown Association; was formerly included in the National Register of Historic Places; and recognized by the U.S. Department of Interior in 1996.

The new historic site allowed the Library to double in capacity. Receiving grants for technological advancement from the Gates Foundation and the State Telecommunication Infrastructure Fund, the Library was able to purchase 11 public access computers with Internet capabilities, genealogy research software, educational materials, and children’s games accessible to everyone in our community.  A children’s section was expanded in 2007, with the generous donations of local residents, Mr. and Mrs. Otto “Jimmy” Borchers. It now provides a place for children to relax on couches and chairs, while enjoying picture books, early reader books, and chapter books.

We were very fortunate in 2011 and 2012, to have received funding through the Tocker Foundation. Grant funds along with donations from the Augusta Jannett Estate and Nanni Rae Baker Estate, we were able to refurnish the library with new book shelves, tables, chairs, magazine racks, and a circulation desk.

The Library currently serves all of the Yoakum area throughout DeWitt and Lavaca Counties, including: Yoakum, Shiner, Hallettsville, Sweethome, Ezzell, Vysehrad, and Cuero.  We also have individuals from all over Texas tour our Library to view its’ natural historic features.

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