Friday, April 21, 2017

A Colonial Style Carnegie

Collecting Carnegie Libraries
Goldendale, Washington

People in Goldendale, Washington (Population: 3,452) are very proud of their stately Carnegie Library.  When we were there a few weeks ago, the place was filled with folks of all ages.  There were even groups of teenagers!  I chatted with the librarian who had been there for 30 years and she beamed when I told her the building was a real beauty.

"We're doing another remodel this summer," she told me.  Back in the 1980's, this little town had a series of fundraisers to add the two modern wings.  The additions blend in well with the original classic style, which was opened in 1914.  In 1985, the library was added to the National Register of Historic Places.

She also told me that Carnegie insisted on stairs leading up to all of his libraries--something I did not know.  "They lead up to learning," she said.  A wonderful metaphor.
As I continue my search for these original Carnegie Libraries, I become more and more fascinated by their history.  For one thing, many of them were started by women's groups and this was back before women in America had the right to vote.  The local women belonging to the Women's Association of Goldendale raised $800 to purchase the lot.  They then applied for a grant and Andrew Carnegie came through with a whopping $8,000.  The very first free library in Klickitat County was erected.  When it opened, it contained 400 precious books.

These stories are very uplifting and I am beginning to think the remaining Carnegie Libraries in America should be protected.  I wonder if anyone has ever nominated them for World Heritage Site status.

Hmmm.  Something to look into.

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