A New Vision for a Historic Location

Avery and Lori Schott are the owners of the Old Library Mercantile. The Schott’s rural roots run deep – Avery was raised right here in eastern Colorado, where his family farmed, and Lori was raised in southwest Iowa on a registered Angus operation. The Schotts raised their children – Cameron, Caleb, and Annalee – on the family farm and were active in 4-H, FFA, and the rodeo. When the opportunity arose to purchase the Old Library, Avery encouraged Lori to look at this beautiful building and it was literally love at first sight. Thus starts the next chapter for the Old Library.

Sadly, Lori and Avery lost their daughter, Annalee, on November 15th, 2020 at the age of 18. This devastating loss shifted their perspectives and life’s purpose. Through the sorrow, they needed to push through the pain to find a passion. One day, Avery mentioned to Lori that the old library was for sale and told her, “You outta go look”.

As Lori walked through the grand front entrance, she was amazed at this beautiful structure. Walking through each room, it just spoke to her. She envisioned what it could be if they opened this beautiful building to share with people of all ages. Making this space a destination shopping experience and coffee shop became the next chapter for the Schott family.

“I wasn’t looking for a new project, but this one found me when I needed it the most,” said Lori.

Today, the Old Library is a happy place. It reflects the people and places of rural America – farming, ranching, rodeos, county fairs, and main street. We welcome you to the family!

The Old Carnegie Library

The Old Library Mercantile was built as a Carnegie library, funded by a $12,500 Carnegie grant, from 1916 to 1918. Opening with 2,000 volumes, it served as Sterling’s public library for 58 years, until 1976. It was designed by Denver architect William Cowe, a Scottish immigrant, who died in 1930.

Carnegie libraries were built with money donated by Scottish-American businessman and philanthropist Andrew Carnegie. Considered the father of modern philanthropy, Carnegie built a total of 2,509 libraries between 1883 and 1929, including some belonging to public and university library systems.

Carnegie’s philanthropic interests centered around the goals of education and world peace. One of his lifelong interests was the establishment of free public libraries to make available to everyone a means of self-education. There were only a few public libraries in the world when, in 1881, Carnegie began to promote his idea.

Listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2001, the Old Library’s exterior has been restored and the interior was sensitvely remodeled. During much of 2001 to 2010 it served as the Old Library Inn, a bed and breakfast, and until recently, was a private residence.

Sterling, a Rural Hub in Northeastern Colorado

Lovers of rural life, the Schotts are proud to bring a unique shopping experience to the residents of northeastern Colorado and visitors alike.

The largest town in northeast Colorado, Sterling is a farm and ranch community with deep roots on the Colorado prairie.. With a population of approximately 14,000 people, Sterling is the county seat for Logan County, home to dozens of businesses, and the rural hub of this portion of the state.

After the Civil War, families from the east and south came west searching for farm land. By 1875, they had established 12 homesteads about five miles northeast of the present City of Sterling. In 1881, M. C. King, who had acquired 400 acres in the Sterling area, offered 80 acres at the present site to the Union Pacific Railroad in return for a depot, roundhouse, and hotel. When they accepted, the present town was platted. By 1883, all of the original settlers had moved to the new location and Sterling was incorporated in 1884.