Springfield Public Library celebrates 25th anniversary of the building that’s a million dollar gift to our community
The Springfield Public Library is celebrating with gratitude and joy the twenty-fifth anniversary of the library building — a wonderful gift to our community from a woman who might have been considered a stranger in Springfield.
The history of the library building is an amazing story of generosity and kindness of Ethel Altermatt, who named the library of her husband’s hometown as the major benefactor of land, stocks and bonds and cash at the time of her death. Ethel Altermatt never lived in Springfield, but she wanted to honor the wishes of her husband, Charles, who was born and raised in Springfield, graduated from Springfield High School in 1929, and was a commercial artist. His father, Ernest Altermatt had a photography studio in Springfield during the early 1900s. The Altermatts were, obviously, fond of Springfield, because they left a legacy. The baseball field in Riverside Park was named Baldy Altermatt field in memory of Charles’ brother, Walter. Charles Altermatt married Ethel Engdahl and they lived in Faribault a number of years before going to Minneapolis, where she was employed by Sears Department Store for many years. They had no children. Charles died April 16, 1973, and was the last surviving member of his family. Ethel died May 2, 1988, in Minneapolis.
During the summer of 1988, the Library Board received notice of the death of Mrs. Altermatt, and that her Last Will and Testament named the Library Board of the Springfield Public Library to receive the bequest from the sale of land, stocks and bonds that she owned at the time of her death. At that time, it was impossible for administrators to provide a dollar amount of the bequest, but the Library Board was informed that it was a very generous gift.
In February 1989, the Library Board received a check for $500,000 — a partial payment of the bequest. They were told that it would be several months before the exact amount of the bequest was known, but from the information provided by administrators of the estate, it was anticipated to be approximately a million dollars.
See complete story in this week's issue of the Springfield Advance-Press.