Our small community library has grown in patrons, collection, technology and vision over the past 15 years that we have been located at 501 South Oak Street. To better reflect our mission to serve all residents of the county and our commitment to be a 21st century library, we are in the process of changing our name. We will be known as Moniteau County Library @ Wood Place, as used on this new web page. We know there is a bright future ahead for us, but we also want to remember and honor our past that brought us to this point.
Elia Wood was raised in the home built by her father Lashley F. Wood in 1876 at 102 South East Street, California, Missouri. After completing her education, she joined her father's law firm as an attorney. When teachers were needed in the Philippine Islands, Elia Wood, Pearl Gordon, Clara Gray (Allee), and Dolly Gray (Marshall) answered the call. Elia Wood and Pearl Gordon asked to be sent to Ilagon where Miss Gordon's brother was stationed. Upon arriving at the islands, they were met by First Lieutenant John A. Paegelow, who transported them to Ilagon. Lieutenant Paegelow was born in Berlin, Germany in 1870. He immigrated to the United States after graduating from the Heidelberg University with a Civil Engineer degree and his mandatory one-year military service duty. After working as a Civil Engineer in New York City, the depressed economy forced him to move to Chicago where he joined the Army as a private. After Paegelow recovered from injuries sustained at San Juan Hill, he was sent to the Philippine Islands, where he met Elia Wood.
On March 12, 1902, Elia Wood and John Paegelow were married. This was the beginning of a long and adventurous life for a young lady from a small community in central Missouri. After spending thirty-one years traveling the globe meeting dignitaries and peasants, the Paegelows' sixty-ninth move was back to her childhood home in California, Missouri. The Paegelows would have ten more years together in this small community. After Colonel Paegelow's death on November 22, 1944, Elia remained in her family home until her death on December 15, 1954. In her will Elia Wood Paegelow had left the bulk of her estate (approximately $50,000) to the First Christian Church, Disciples of Christ, to help establish a public library and recreation area for local youth. The church willingly undertook this task for the next forty-four years.
On December 18, 1954, trustees E.A. Kibbee, A.K. Reed, and G.C. McCollester accepted the estate of Elia Wood Paegelow on behalf of the First Christian Church. The trust Mrs. Paegelow placed in church members' hands was met quickly as they went about refurbishing the former residence into a library and building an outdoor recreation area. The talents of Margaret York (Friedmeyer), Virginia Hert, and Dorothy Howard helped furnish the library. Rev. Melvin McCurdy, E.A. McCollester and G.C. McCollester supervised the construction of an outdoor recreation area that included miniature golf, shuffleboard, horseshoes, badminton, and croquet. On June 10, 1955, the Wood Place Library opened with hours the same as they were when the doors closed in 1998. Numerous people donated these hours in order to keep the library doors open. Although the librarians did receive some compensation for their hours, it was never adequate for all the services they performed. The men and women who gave of their time and talents to keep the library open and ensure the growth of the Paegelow estate have enabled California area residents to now enjoy a newer, bigger, and more modern library.
In the early 1990’s, discussions began between the Trustees of the Christian Church who operated the Wood Place Library and board members of California Progress, Inc., (CPI) a not-for-profit, community development corporation with over 150 California area members that was formed in 1989. As a result of these discussions, CPI purchased an old mercantile store building in 1995 that was constructed in 1864 by J. G. Ehrhardt at the Southwest corner of Oak and Versailles Street adjacent to the newly renovated Senior Nutrition Center. The building was in poor condition with no modern plumbing or heat system, but it was generally felt it was a significant historical building that should be preserved.
Renovation of this building began in 1996 by CPI using Neighborhood Assistance Program tax credits administered through the State of Missouri Department of Economic Development. This work included roof repair, tuckpointing and waterproofing the exterior brick walls, steel reinforcement for the first and second floors to sustain the weight of books and equipment, insulation and new interior walls, new windows and glass throughout, new electrical, phone, and computer wiring, new plumbing and heat and air systems, etc. The first floor of the building was completed and ready for occupancy in the summer of 1998 - some 2 ½ years after the work began.
During the building renovation time, a volunteer committee comprised of CPI board members, Christian Church Trustees and other community citizens met extensively over a 2 ½ year period to research formation of a not-for-profit library organization to assume the operation of the library from the church sponsored organization. After many meetings and public forums, the Wood Place Public Library was formed in the Spring of 1998 and was approved for tax exempt status under Section 501 (c) 3 of the Internal Revenue Code. Steps were then taken to transfer the assets of the church organization to the new corporation which included the original Paegelow/Wood home on South East Street, the inventory of over 5,000 books, shelving, equipment and the endowment fund.
The first board of directors of the Wood Place Public Library included Gail Hughes, President; Rob Hoff, Vice President; Paul Bloch, Treasurer; Terry Brown, Secretary; and board members Harry Minturn, Norma Wise and Janet Hofstetter. Cori Mayfield was hired as the first full-time librarian and started work July 1, 1998. Lisa Marshall took over as the library director in July 2000 and served through September, 2009.
The library closed temporarily in late August, 1998 and opened in the newly renovated building at 501 South Oak Street in September, 1998. Several tax levy issues were placed before the residents of California to assist with public financing of the new library and provide grant opportunities available to publicly supported libraries. Unfortunately, the levies failed, so the library operated with earnings from the endowment investments and private donations until 2004. A tax levy for the City of California passed in June 2004, allowing the library to provide free memberships to city residents and pursue additional grant funding. The library continues to serve many out-of-towners, who pay a small yearly membership fee.
In Fall, 1998 a small personal computer network was installed to allow patrons access to word processing and the Internet for research. A third computer was added in 1999 through a grant from the National Library of Medicine and Mid Missouri Area Health Research Center. The grant also provided for a community health information page and staff training so that library staff can help patrons to access medical information from the internet. In 2002, existing computers were upgraded and two new computers with internet access were added. Each year the collection of books grows and new shelving was added in 1998, 1999, 2001, 2002 and 2005. In 2004 a homework help center along with a 6th public access computer was added. Public access computers were either replaced or updated in 2005 and the library added MOREnet services. The MOREnet program, which was not available when the library was not tax supported, provides a faster internet connection, training for our staff, and access to online databases and other resources. In 2009 there are 10 public access computers.
CPI has continued to support the library effort through a further renovation of the second floor of the library building. The second floor renovation was completed in the spring of 2001 and provided the community with public meeting rooms, two restrooms, a small kitchen area and space for a distance learning center. The Distance Learning Center was funded with a U. S. Department of Agriculture grant and was complete in the fall of 2001. The center has offered college credit classes with an interactive television system as well as other adult education classes. That facility then evolved into a computer lab that supported adult learning opportunities and for Homework Help, as well as a variety of classes and workshops, open to the public. It's use has evolved as technoloy and community needs have changed. In 2014, it became the Early Literacy Center. (see below for details.)
CPI turned over full ownership of the building to the Wood Place Public Library in September, 2008.
The library took the next big step when it donated the building, furnishings, and its collections to the Moniteau County Library Board in October, 2013. The MCL Board officially accepted the gift on November 20, 2013 and we became the Moniteau County Library @ Wood Place. On December 9, 2013, the MCL Board voted to name Connie Walker its first County Library Director. The change became official on January 1, 2014.
A celebration Open House and Ribbon Cutting was held on January 30, 2014 which more than 75 people attended. Library Director Connie Walker cut the ribbon to symbolize the new phase of library service to the county. Others in the foreground (L to R) are Brad Baer (Chamber of Commerce), Laura Burger (President of the former Wood Place Library Board which is now the Elia Wood Paegelow Foundation), Gloria Longan (library volunteer), Mrs. Walker, Becky Lawson (Chamber President), Marion Gish (back to camera - Moniteau County Library Board President), Nancy Lewis (Assistant Library Director), and Jo Ann Collier (Moniteau County Library Board member). Gail Hughes, past president of the Wood Place Board spoke of the history of the library and its progress, culminating in becoming the County Library. Barbara Reading, the MO State Librarian, spoke of the progress that Moniteau County is making with its library services. See additional photos under "News", "Board" and "Friends".
The creative play space for infants, toddlers, and preschoolers was ready for use in June, 2014. The partnership between Moniteau County Library, CMCA and Moniteau County Head Start was celebrated on July 16, 2014 with a ribbon cutting and open house. The plaque reads in part, "This is another amazing way in which this community provides for the betterment of its people."
The library experienced a setback in February, 2017, when a Judge ruled that the Moniteau County Library District had been created improperly and dissolved the district. This was in response to a lawsuit filed in October 2015 by the city of Tipton and three citizens over the disbursement of tax monies. The MCL closed March 1. The library reverted to its previous owner now known as the Elia Wood Paegelow Foundation and reopened on May 22 under its former name - Wood Place Library. It will seek approval for a new tax levy later this year.
For more information on the library and its programs, or to make a tax-deductible donation, please contact the librarian during business hours. Phone: 573-796-2642 or e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.