Thursday, August 29, 2013

The Hanford Carnegie

I collect Carnegies, and this Romanesque building in Hanford, California, is one of the most beautiful I have come across.   Like so many of the old libraries, this one is now a museum.  I'm just thrilled it still exists.  It has a colorful history, which the citizens of this little town are very proud of.  They have insured its survival by getting it listed on the National Registry of Historic Buildings.

Back in 1902, the ladies of the Grand Army Republic Reading Room Association (What a name!) applied for a grant to build this library from the foundation set up by steel magnate and philanthropist, Andrew Carnegie.  The foundation agreed to give them $10,000.  Well, these ladies were insulted!  How could they build a library for that paltry amount of money?  Negotiations ensued and they were able to get an additional $2,500.  It is inconceivable in today's economy that the final cost of this architectural beauty was $12,472.90!

If you love old turn-of-the-century buildings, a pit stop in Hanford is worth the effort.   Hanford is located south of Fresno in the San Joaquin Valley.  Besides the library, I was astounded by the historic preservation the citizens have undertaken.  My travel buddy and I spent an entire afternoon here walking around the town.  There are maps available by the carousel, but we met several people who were more than eager to help us out.

We found this place quite by accident.   After rolling into town in search of a good restaurant, we ended up at the Superior Dairy Products Company for turkey sandwiches and hot fudge sundaes.  This place is worth a pit stop all by itself!  There were entire families eating here and most of them were indulging in banana splits or big scoops of peach and lemon ice cream.  My mouth is watering just thinking about it!  While we were eating, we were admiring the brick buildings across the street.   One building led to another.
The Bastille
Old Kings County Courthouse
An Allan Herschel Carousel
I intend to return to this gem of a town.  The next time I plan on staying over night at the charming Irwin Street Inn and take a second stroll through a neighborhood of historical homes.   I want to tour the inside of the Taoist Temple and the Carnegie Museum.  Take in a play.   Bravo, Hanford!  You may be off the beaten track, but you are a traveler's dream.
Taoist Temple

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