Pittsburgh History and Landmarks Foundation

Historic Landmark Plaque Committee

Landmark Plaque Application


To: Frank Stroker

Pittsburgh History and Landmarks Foundation

Pittsburgh & Lake Erie Railroad Terminal/Landmarks Building – Suite 450

100 West Station Square Drive

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 15219-1134 U.S.A.

Electronic Mail: < frank@phlf.org >


From: Glenn A. Walsh

P.O. Box 1041

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 15230-1041 U.S.A.

Electronic Mail: < gawalsh@andrewcarnegie.cc >


Subject: Historic Plaque Application for the West End Branch, The Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh


Date: 2012 October 24


  1. Site Name, originally and commonly known as:

    West End Branch, The Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh

  2. Address: 47 Wabash Street, Pittsburgh (West End Valley), Pennsylvania 15220-5422 U.S.A.

  3. Name and Address of Present Owners:

    City of Pittsburgh

    414 Grant Street

    Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 15219-2409 U.S.A.

  4. Name, Address, Telephone Number, and E-Mail Address of Applicant if different from Owner:

    Friends of the Library, West End Branch, The Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh

    c/o Glenn A. Walsh

    P.O. Box 1041

    Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 15230-1041 U.S.A.

    Telephone: 412-561-7876

    Electronic Mail: < gawalsh@andrewcarnegie.cc >

    Note: Glenn A. Walsh, from 1995 to 2000, served as a Life Trustee on the Board of Trustees of the Andrew Carnegie Free Library and Music Hall in Carnegie, Pennsylvania, and since 1999 has maintained an Internet web site on the History of Andrew Carnegie and Carnegie Libraries at this Internet address: < http://www.andrewcarnegie.cc >.

  5. If Applicant is not the current Owner, explain the relationship between the two, and indicate whether or not the owner supports this nomination:

    The Friends of the Library, West End Branch, The Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh supports the mission of, and works closely with the staff of, the West End Branch Library. The City of Pittsburgh (building owner) and The Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh (building lessee) have not taken positions regarding this nomination. However, I know that the City of Pittsburgh did not object to a similar plaque being placed on the original Buhl Planetarium and Institute of Popular Science building (dedicated 73 years ago today), which the City also owns.

    PHLF Plaque Application: West Branch, CLPGH 2012 October 24 Page 2 of 3



  1. Name of Original Owner(s): The City of Pittsburgh is the original owner and the original lessee is the Carnegie Free Libraries of the City of Pittsburgh, more commonly known today as The Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh. There has never has been an ownership change or lessee change regarding the West End Branch, The Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh.

  2. Date(s) of Construction and Renovations:

    1899 January 31 – Library Branch Dedicated and Opens to the General Public

    2013 – Planned building rehabilitation, including the addition of air-conditioning and handicapped accessibility.

  3. Name of Architect: Alden and Harlow.

  4. Site Description: See number 10.

  5. Historical and Architectural Uniqueness of Site/Buildings:

    One of the first branch libraries to be built, this being the second completed. Andrew Carnegie

requested in a letter that a branch be established in Temperanceville, now Pittsburgh's West End.

Alden & Harlow was the leading Pittsburgh architectural firm at the time and also designed the Main

Branch in Oakland. The central entrance portico has a classical pediment supported by columns and

signature stone above with 'Carnegie Library.' Steps lead up to double glass doors with transom set

in sandstone architrave with 'West End Branch' above. Dedicated 1899 January 31, the original

collection of books numbered between 4,000 to 5,000. Story hours for children had their beginning at

this library. Charlotte Keith tried storytelling as an experiment. She got the idea from kindergartens

which were just opening throughout the country. Youngsters at the branch liked the stories and soon

the main Carnegie Library and others all over the United States copied her plan.






    PHLF Plaque Application: West Branch, CLPGH 2012 October 24 Page 3 of 3


      1. (Continued)

        On the building's front exterior wall, just south of the main library entrance, is a black and yellow Civil Defense Fallout Shelter sign, from the Cold War Era, mounted in the 1960s.

        In the Lower Level meeting room, a Library custodian painted pictures of children’s literature fictional characters on the doors to several cabinets, in the 1950s.

        And, the West End Branch Library was the second library to house a specifically-designed and constructed library Children’s Room.

        In his letter to the Mayor and City Councils on 1890 February 6, Andrew Carnegie offered library buildings (including a library building in the Temperanceville section of the City, now better known as the City's West End Valley) to the City and said, “All of these should be thoroughly fireproof, monumental in character and creditable to the city.” Andrew Carnegie provided these wonderful buildings to be monuments of literacy and learning for each of these neighborhoods, each to be recognized by the people as a special place where a person can improve their lot in life.

  1. Describe the nature of renovations (if any):

    Renovations planned for 2013 include roof replacement, air-conditioning of building, and handicapped-accessibility of building. Current accessibility plans include construction of an elevator for the handicapped.

  2. Is the applicant property listed or eligible to be listed on the National Register of Historic Places? Is the property a local-designated Landmark or in a local historic district, if known?

    The West End Branch, The Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh is eligible to be listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

    The West End Branch, The Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh was designated a City-Designated Historic Structure, by the City of Pittsburgh, by a unanimous vote of Pittsburgh City Council, on 2004 July 14. The West End Branch had been nominated, along with four other non-designated historic branch libraries (Hazelwood, Homewood, Lawrenceville, and Mount Washington Branches), by Walter C. Kidney of the Pittsburgh History and Landmarks Foundation. All five branch libraries received the designation of City-Designated Historic Structure, by the same 2004 City Council vote. At the following Internet address is the statement, delivered by Glenn A. Walsh before Pittsburgh City Council on 2004 June 30, in support of the designation of the West End Branch Library as a City-Designated Historic Structure:
    <
    http://andrewcarnegie.tripod.com/clpgh/ST-DesgWestEnd.htm >.

  3. Enclose a CD of at least five (5) digital images of the exterior, and two (2) of the interior.

    A CD with many photographs of the West End Branch, The Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh, exterior, interior, and environs, is included with this application. The photographs were taken by Pittsburgh-Area Free-Lance Photographer Lynne S. Walsh in June of 2012.


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