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Indiana Historical Bureau

IHB > Historical Markers > Find a Marker > Crawfordsville’s Carnegie Library Crawfordsville’s Carnegie Library

Crawfordsville’s Carnegie Library Side 1 Crawfordsville’s Carnegie Library Side 2

Location: The Carnegie Museum of Montgomery County, 222 South Washington Street (U.S. 231), Crawfordsville (Montgomery County), Indiana.

Installed: 2009 Indiana Historical Bureau, Crawfordsville District Public Library, and Friends of the Carnegie Museum of Montgomery County

ID#: 54.2009.1

Text

Side one:

In 1897, the Current Events Club, like many women’s clubs during this era, helped organize city’s public library. Andrew Carnegie donated $25,000 in 1901 for library building construction; city provided land and annual funding. Local architect W. F. Sharpe designed this Renaissance Revival building.

Side two:

This was first Carnegie Library opened in Indiana, dedicated July 29, 1902 with 4,500 volumes. Library moved 2005, building opened as Carnegie Museum 2007. One of 1,679 libraries built in U.S. with funds from philanthropist Andrew Carnegie. Indiana built more Carnegie libraries than any other state.

Keywords

Education & Libraries, Buildings & Architecture, Women

Annotated Text

Crawfordsville’s Carnegie Library [1]

Side one:

In 1897, the Current Events Club, like many women’s clubs during this era, helped organize city’s public library.[2] Andrew Carnegie donated $25,000 in 1901 for library building construction; city provided land and annual funding.[3] Local architect W. F. Sharpe designed this Renaissance Revival building.[4]

Side two:

This was first Carnegie Library opened in Indiana,[5] dedicated July 29, 1902 with 4,500 volumes.[6] Library moved 2005, building opened as Carnegie Museum 2007.[7] One of 1,679 libraries built in U.S. with funds from philanthropist Andrew Carnegie. Indiana built more Carnegie libraries than any other state.[8]

Notes

1. Dedication Carnegie Library (Crawfordsville, 1902) (B070270); “Beautiful Carnegie Library Completed,” Crawfordsville Sunday Star, July 27, 1902 (B070385); “Dedicated to Public Use,” Crawfordsville Journal, July 30, 1902 (B070269); Crawfordsville District Public Library: Library History, http://www.cdpl.lib.in.us/libhistory/briefhistory.html (accessed November 20, 2007) (B070412).

2. Current Events Club Minutes, 1896-1904, Crawfordsville District Public Library, 30-33. (B070465); “Beautiful Carnegie Library Completed,” Crawfordsville Sunday Star, July 27, 1902 (B070385); “The Public Library,” Crawfordsville Daily Argus News, June 4, 1898 (B070383); “Additional Local, Crawfordsville Sunday Star, March 6, 1898 (B070377).

Abigail A. Van Slyck, Free to All: Carnegie Libraries & American Culture, 1890-1920 (Chicago, 1995), 125 (B0070280). Van Slyck wrote, “[I]n 1933 the American Library Association credited women’s clubs with initiating 75 percent of the public libraries then in existence,” 125. For Van Slyck’s general discussion on the role women’s clubs played on public libraries see 125-33.

3. “A Royal Gift for Us,” Crawfordsville Sunday Star, March 18, 1901 (B070378); “A Carnegie Library,” Crawfordsville Journal, March 19, 1901 (B070266); Montgomery County Legend and Lore, ed. Pat Cline (Crawfordsville, 1988), 219 (B070283); “Carnegie Won’t Interfere,” Crawfordsville Sunday Star, April 8, 1901 (B070379); “They Wrote Their Names in Letters of Burnished Gold,” Crawfordsville Sunday Star, April 15, 1901 (B070380)..

4. “The New Library,” Crawfordsville Journal, May 8, 1901 (B070264). In 1914, Sharpe also designed Montgomery County’s Waveland Carnegie Library, “Another Library Step,” Waveland Independent, May 8, 1914 (B070527).

The Montgomery County Interim Report (Indianapolis, 1986) (B070271) classified the Crawfordsville Carnegie as Neo-Classical specifically Beaux Arts. However, Frank Hurdis with the Indiana Department of Natural Resources disagreed. He wrote, “I think the building is Renaissance Revival and … it may have been in part inspired by McKim, Mead & White’s Boston Public Library. Although it has sculptural ornamentation above the cornice, I don’t think it is nearly exuberant enough to be considered Beaux Arts. I don’t think too many people would find fault with the Neoclassical designation but I think the specific Renaissance references in the arched openings flanked by pilasters makes Renaissance Revival more precise.” (B0070522). Hurdis’ opinion is corroborated in Theodore Jones, Carnegie Libraries Across America: A Public Legacy (New York, 1997), 61-62 (B070278)..

5. [William J. Hamilton] Secretary Public Library Commission to R. I. Williams [Crawfordsville City Attorney], June 2, 1921, Crawfordsville Carnegie Library File, Library Development Office, Indiana State Library (B070338). Hamilton stated that Crawfordsville’s Carnegie was the first to open.

Primary source research has corroborated Hamilton’s claim. The following articles report on the dedications or openings of Carnegie libraries across Indiana from July 1902 – June 1904. While dedication and opening dates sometimes differed, none of these articles indicated that these libraries were open earlier than Crawfordsville’s Carnegie on July 29, 1901. “Senator Fairbanks Speaks at Portland,” Indianapolis News, September 10, 1902 (B070502); “Handsome New Carnegie Library Formally Opened by a Grateful People,” Marion Chronicle, December 6, 1902 (B070503); “Now Open to Public,” Goshen Daily News, January 16, 1903 (B070504); “Dedication,” Daviess County Democrat, February 28, 1903 (B070505); “Work on Library Nearly Complete,” Huntington News-Democrat, February 6, 1903 (B070506); “Bedford’s Magnificent Library,” Bedford Daily Mail, April 6, 1903 (B070507); “Carnegie Library Informally Opened,” Wabash Daily Plain Dealer, April 6, 1903 (B070508); “Fine Home of Books,” Peru Evening Journal, May 21, 1903 (B070509); “The Columbus Public Library Has Been Fittingly Dedicated,” Columbus Evening Republican, June 2, 1903 (B070510); “Opening of the Carnegie Public Library,” Shelbyville Friday Republican, June 5, 1903 (B070511); “Dedicatory Exercises,” Greencastle Star-Press, June 13, 1903 (B070513); “Express Thanks to Mr. Carnegie,” Elkhart Daily Truth, October 10, 1903 (B070512).

According to Alan McPherson, Temples of Knowledge: Andrew Carnegie’s Gift to Indiana (Kewanna, IN, 2003), 223 (B070277), Tipton’s Carnegie opened on March 22, 1903. No newspaper articles were located to confirm date, but the Tipton County Public Library Web site, http://www.tiptonpl.lib.in.us/default.asp?p=2 (Accessed November 28, 2007) (B070529), agrees with the date McPherson stated; “Library Dedicated,” Danville Republican, December 10, 1903 (B070514); “The Library Dedicated,” Muncie Evening Times, January 1, 1904 (B070515); “Fort Wayne’s Library to be Dedicated To-Day,” Fort Wayne Journal, January 7, 1904 (B070516); “Opened Today,” New Albany Evening Tribune, March 2, 1904 (B070528); “A Marvel of Beauty,” Elwood Daily Record, June 1, 1904 (B070518)..

6. Dedication (B070270).

7. Crawfordsville District Public Library: Library History (B070412); Carnegie Museum of Montgomery County: Construction, http://www.cdpl.lib.in.us/carnegie/construction/construction-cmmc.html (accessed November 29, 2005) (B070447); “Carnegie Museum of Montgomery County Opens Doors,” Crawfordsville Journal-Review, June 11, 2007, http://journalreview.com/articles/2007/06/10/news/02carnegie.prt (Accessed June 12, 2007) (B070274).

8. George S. Bobinski, Carnegie Libraries (Chicago, 1969), 20.