Thursday
Jan302014

August 10, 1904 - Carnegie Library

Andrew Carnegie (1835 - 1919)                        San Bernardino's Carnegie Library (1904 - 1958) 

Andrew Carnegie made his fortune in the steel industry and is well known for funding libraries.

The above postcard shows San Bernardino's Carnegie Library, at the southwest corner of 4th and D Street, and behind it, the 1874 and 1898 courthouses located on Court Street.

In 1902, the city of San Bernardio was offered a $20,000 grant by the Carnegie Corporation and architects Burnham and Bliesner were selected to design the Classical Revival style building.  

The library was opened August 10, 1904.  In 1920, the Carnegie Corporation provided an another $7,600 for an addition to the building, and the city passed a $10,000 bond to support the expansion. 

The Carnegie Library was a beautiful piece of architecture with a wide staircase leading to the rounded, column-guarded entrance at center.  A dome protudes over the front corner of the library where large windows and a rotating door stand beneath the words "Public Library", that are carved into the stone.  Two lamp posts stand at the end of the staircase to light the sidewalk which extends down the streets on the left and right.

In 1957 the Carnegie Library was declared unsafe.  Rather than rennovate it, the city demolished it in 1958.

It was replaced in 1960 by a new library, located at 401 N. Arrowhead Avenue.  In 1984, it was demolished to make room for the County Administration Center.

At the time, the Municipal Auditorium, in Pioneer Park, was in need of rennovation and consideration was given to remodeling it to serve as a library.  Instead of converting the Municipal Auditorium into a library, it too was demolished and the Norman F. Feldheym Central LIbrary was constructed in its place.

Note: Andrew Carnegie funded 2,509 libraries throught the world, including 1,679 in the United States. From 1899-1917, the Carnegie Corporation provided grants to build 142 public libraries in California.   As of 2009, 85 of the 142 Carnegie libraries in the Golden State were still standing and 36 were in use as libraries.