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Carnegie, Pa., Apr. 14 - One hundred years ago, this month, Andrew Carnegie provided a grant of $200,000 for the erection of a public library in the Borough of Carnegie, Pennsylvania. This grant provided an additional $10,000 for the first supply of books, for what would become the Andrew Carnegie Free Library, located on a hill overlooking the borough business district.

In a letter to William Hill, the first Library Board President, and Board Secretary George Hosack, dated April 26, 1898, Andrew Carnegie wrote, "I will spend $200,000 upon a fireproof building for a Public Library and a High School, also $10,000 to furnish the first supply of books." This letter was the culmination of more than five years of efforts, by Carnegie residents, to secure the donation of a library from Andrew Carnegie.

On February 20, 1894, the voters approved the union of the adjacent boroughs of Chartiers and Mansfield; "Carnegie" was chosen as the name of the new borough. During his dedication address, for The Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh and Carnegie Institute on November 2, 1895, Mr. Carnegie had publicly stated his interest in constructing a library in Carnegie by saying, "...and hope also to be able to provide a library for a community which has been so partial as to adopt our name, much to the surprise of Mrs. Carnegie and myself (Applause), but I will not deny also, much to our satisfaction;..."

The April 26 letter was a reply to a March 31, 1898 letter in which Mr. Hill and Mr. Hosack requested that Mr. Carnegie consider the donation of a High School, to the town, in addition to the Library. The March 31 letter stated, "Knowing your great interest in higher education and in especial in giving the chance of this to the common people, it seemed that you would not deem it improper if we should inquire whether the Library building might not include a High School department." In referring to the Carnegie Borough Public Schools system, the letter further said that " present, the building of a High School would severely tax our resources."

Although Mr. Carnegie consented to the use of his grant monies for the construction of a high school, he suggested that it might be more valuable to use part of the grant for construction of a "Public Hall," as was constructed with libraries he funded for Braddock, Homestead, and Pittsburgh; he noted that income from Pittsburgh's Music Hall yielded "quite a sum each year." He further said, "Personally I should prefer this to uniting the High School to the Library, because public education is a thing apart, and it is a privilege for a community to pay for it."

An 800-seat Music Hall, patterned after Carnegie Hall in New York City, was built adjacent to the Library. At the bottom of the hill, in which the Library was located, the Board of Education built a separate High School; special steps were also built, between the Library and the High School.

In the April 26 letter, Mr. Carnegie went on to say, "It has been suggested to me that accomodation is needed for the Town Council in addition to the Hall and Library..." Hence, in addtion to the Music Hall, a Lecture Hall was constructed on the Library building's second floor. For many years, the Carnegie Borough Council held their meetings in the Lecture Hall.

Mr. Carnegie concluded his April 26 letter by saying, "The whole matter is that there is a gift of $200,000 for Carnegie - let us see the best use that can be made of it, except that there must be a Public Library and provision made for its maintenance."

The Andrew Carnegie Free Library opened as the fourth free public library, constructed and endowed by Andrew Carnegie, on May 1, 1901. In addition to the Library, Music Hall and 140-seat Lecture Hall, the cultural complex includes a gymnasium, now used as the dance studio of the Carnegie Performing Arts Center, Civil War Museum, small public park, and discount bookstore.

Andrew Carnegie's letter of April 26, 1898, and the March 31, 1898 letter to Mr. Carnegie, from the original Library Board, are now on display near the entrance of the Andrew Carnegie Free Library. These letters are now, also, displayed on the Library's Internet web site:


Note to Editors: Enclosed are copies of the two letters, in their entirety, mentioned in the news release.

Keep up with events at your Library, on the Internet:>.

Grant Centennial Citation from the Pennsylvania House of Representatives,
sponsored by Representative John R. Pippy.

News Release - April 7, 1999:

Click Here to see Andrew Carnegie's Declaration of Trust Agreement,
the Library's Legal Charter, in its entirety.

Cobblestone Magazine logo In Cobblestone Magazine, April, 1999: The History of Andrew Carnegie
News Release - April 12, 1999:
National Magazine Highlights Andrew Carnegie and Pittsburgh

Andrew Carnegie and Carnegie Libraries Photo Album

Andrew Carnegie Free Library History Cover Page.

History of the Andrew Carnegie Free Library.

Information about the Andrew Carnegie Free Library.

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