Talk on the History of the
Andrew Carnegie Free Library
For Centennial of Library Dedication
2002 October 8
I want to thank you all for coming this evening, to help us
commemorate the centennial of the dedication of the Andrew Carnegie
Free Library and Music Hall. In a few minutes, Peter Krass will be
talking to you about the life of our benefactor, Andrew Carnegie.
The reason we are all here today is because Andrew Carnegie saw
the wisdom of donating money for the construction of this wonderful
facility. So, first, I will take a few minutes to give you a short history of
the Andrew Carnegie Free Library.
It all started on February 20, 1894, when the Borough of Mansfield,
on this side of Chartiers Creek, and the Borough of Chartiers, on the
opposite side of Chartiers Creek, solidified the intergovernmental
cooperation that had already been occurring with a merger of the two
municipalities. The voters agreed to name the new town "Carnegie,"
after the leading industrialist of that day, Andrew Carnegie.
As Carnegie Borough was already an industrial center, some civic
leaders had hoped this honor would induce Andrew Carnegie to
establish a new steel mill in his namesake town. However, the Carnegie
Steel Company already had three major plants in Braddock,
Homestead, and Duquesne and had no plans to open new plants.
Another drawback was that Chartiers Creek was not navigable for
On November 5, 1895, Andrew Carnegie gave the keynote address
at the dedication of the main branch of The Carnegie Library of
Pittsburgh, in Oakland. In his address, he publicly announced his
intention to build a library in his namesake town of Carnegie.
During the negotiations that ensued, Carnegie Borough officials
asked if a high school could be built with the library. Andrew Carnegie
felt that it was most appropriate for the taxpayers to fund buildings for
public education. Although he did not say no to the request for a high
school, he did say that it would be his preference to build a music hall
with the library. At a town meeting, the people of Carnegie quickly
agreed to the offer of a library and music hall.
The taxpayers of Carnegie did build a new high school, which was
completed before the library opened. This new high school was located
at the bottom of, what would eventually be known as, Library Hill. It
was built there, to be in close proximity to the library, and, special steps
were constructed to expedite travel between the high school and the
library. In addition to the students' use of the library-proper, high
school concerts, plays, and other assemblies occurred in the music hall,
as the high school did not have an auditorium.
So, on April 26, 1898, Andrew Carnegie wrote a letter to William
Hill, the first Library Board President, and George Hosack, the Board
Secretary, offering "$200,000 upon a fireproof building for a Public
Library...also $10,000 to furnish the first supply of books." It should be
noted that most towns, receiving a Carnegie Library building, did not
receive extra money for books. In addition to building an 800-seat Music
Hall with the Library, a Lecture Hall was also constructed on the
building's second floor, as Andrew Carnegie was told that the Carnegie
Borough Council needed a place to meet. Carnegie Borough Council
continued meeting in the Library Lecture Hall, until they obtained their
own building and Council Chamber in the 1970s.
$26,000 was used to buy the property for the building, on a site
in the middle of town, on a hill overlooking the business district. $81,000
was used to construct and furnish the building. And, $93,000 was reserved
as an endowment fund, to assist in the financial maintenance
of the facility.
What many people do not realize is that the land purchased for the
library, by Andrew Carnegie, goes much beyond the building. A small
section of library property actually runs all the way to Main Street,
at the intersection with Broadway--the new sundial, at this intersection, is
actually on library property. Andrew Carnegie considered this excess land
to be a small in-town park, for the citizens of Carnegie. Erected on the
wall of the Library Foyer is a plaque, which states:
"THIS BUILDING AND PARK
GIVEN AND DEDICATED BY
TO THE CITIZENS OF THIS BOROUGH
ANNO DOMINI 1899"
The Andrew Carnegie Free Library was the fourth of only five
libraries, built by Andrew Carnegie, which received an endowment. The
other libraries receiving an endowment were in his native hometown of
Dunfermline, Scotland in 1881, Braddock, Pa. built in 1889, Homestead,
Pa. built in 1898, and the City of Duquesne, Pa. in 1904. Although
Carnegie Institute, better known today as The Carnegie Museums of
Pittsburgh, also received an endowment, the Carnegie Libraries in the
cities of Pittsburgh and Allegheny, now Pittsburgh's North Side, did not
receive an endowment.
All of the other 2,806 libraries donated throughout the English-
speaking world by Andrew Carnegie were required to receive an annual
subsidy from their home municipality. In most cases, this annual
maintenance pledge, which became known as "The Carnegie Formula,"
was calculated as ten percent of the cost of the library building.
The Andrew Carnegie Free Library was legally formed with the
execution, by Andrew Carnegie, of a Declaration of Trust agreement on
April 20, 1899. This Trust agreement is the legal charter or constitution of
the Library, enforced by the Orphans' Court of Allegheny County.
The Declaration of Trust agreement set in-place Andrew Carnegie's
philosophy for the proper governance of a public library. The Trust set-up
a 17-member Board of Trustees, consisting of 10 Life Trustees appointed
by Andrew Carnegie and 7 Ex-Officio Trustees consisting of the 6
members of the Carnegie Borough Council and the Burgess of Carnegie,
which later became Mayor of Carnegie. With the approval of the Orphans'
Court two years ago, this Board of Trustees structure was streamlined to
consist of 9 Term Trustees and 3 Ex-Officio Trustees.
The Trust agreement also declared that the name of the institution
would be the Andrew Carnegie Free Library. This was the first and only
time that a public library was permitted to use Andrew Carnegie's first
name as part of the name of the library. There is one academic library that
was also permitted to use his first name: the Andrew Carnegie Library of
Livingstone College in Salisbury, North Carolina. However, there is no
other public library which uses his first name.
In general, Andrew Carnegie did not require that a library
constructed with his money use his last name--although, as with our
library, there were a few exceptions. All of the early libraries funded by
Andrew Carnegie were required to have the words "Free Library" or
"Free to the People" inscribed on the front of the building. He wanted
these words to be literally engraved in stone, to ensure that no library he
funded ever charged an admission fee!
On October 19, 1899, the Cornerstone was laid for the Library and
construction was begun. The Cornerstone, which can be seen when
entering the Library, simply says "ERECTED A.D. 1899." Inside the
Cornerstone is a time capsule which includes Andrew Carnegie's letter, of
April 26, 1898, granting $210,000 for construction of the Library, as well as
a cablegram, from Mr. Carnegie, congratulating the citizens of Carnegie
for the beginning of construction of the Library. The time capsule also
includes issues of the Carnegie Item, Chartiers Valley Signal, Carnegie
Union, and some Pittsburgh newspapers. The program of the day, list of
the Library Board of Trustees, and a number of personal and business
cards were also placed in the time capsule.
On April 9, 1900, the Library Board of Trustees established the By-
Laws of the new organization. As with the Library's Trust agreement,
these By-Laws remained unchanged until the mid-1990s.
The Andrew Carnegie Free Library opened its doors to the public on
May 1, 1901. The first book checked-out of the new Library was titled,
"Triumphant Democracy," authored by Andrew Carnegie! The first event
in the new Music Hall came on May 10, 1901, with a concert by the
Carnegie Men's Glee Club.
Andrew Carnegie was not able to attend either event. So, the official
dedication of the Library came on April 22, 1902. This was a very warm
Spring day. In fact, according to the National Weather Service, the high
temperature of +86 degrees F that day is still the record high temperature
in Pittsburgh for the date of April 22! Andrew Carnegie leased a streetcar
to travel to Carnegie that day.
Accompanying Andrew Carnegie to the dedication ceremony was his
good friend John A. Brashear, who was well-known as an astronomer,
telescope-maker, and educator. At this time John Brashear was Chancellor
of the Western University of Pennsylvania, which is now known
as the University of Pittsburgh. A few years earlier, he had been Director
of the Allegheny Observatory.
The John A. Brashear Company built telescopes, large and small, as
well as other precision scientific instruments, that were distributed
throughout the world. Many Brashear telescopes are still in use today,
including large ones at the Allegheny Observatory and the Nicholas E.
Wagman Observatory in Deer Lakes Park in the North Hills.
Emma Danziger Krass, the grandmother of tonight's keynote
speaker Peter Krass, also attended the Library dedication. At age 5, she
sang with her first grade class from Lincoln School.
During the dedication ceremony, Andrew Carnegie presented
another gift to the Library--a stage curtain for the Music Hall, which
included a painting of his Scottish home, Skibo Castle. What you see here,
tonight, is not the same curtain; no one knows what happened to the
original proscenium curtain. With the assistance of the theatrical troupe,
Stage 62, and the generous funding from First Carnegie Deposit Bank, this
historic stage curtain, with a painting of Skibo Castle, was re-created and
dedicated on July 18, 1997, preceding the Stage 62 performance of the
While some of Andrew Carnegie's original library buildings have
been replaced, over the last century, and rumors persist that some of his
original library branches in the City of Pittsburgh may be replaced in the
near future, the Board of Trustees and staff of the Andrew Carnegie Free
Library have strongly felt that our historic library building should remain
A new organization of civic and business leaders, called the
Chartiers Valley Partnership, headed by Bill Manbe and Charlie Goetz,
has accepted the challenge to raise $8 million for the restoration of this
wonderful facility. Preliminary plans, for this restoration, are on public
display near the Library's Circulation Desk, and these plans can be viewed
by the public any time the Library is open.
The Andrew Carnegie Free Library is open to the public on Tuesday,
Wednesday, and Thursday from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.; Friday from 10 a.m. to 5
p.m.; and Saturday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. The Library is closed on Sundays
Isn't this a great Music Hall!!! In addition to being the location of
several plays and concerts each year, often groups rent the Music Hall just
to record a CD album, due to its excellent acoustics!
You are sitting in the original mahogany seats; there are still 788 of
the original 800 seats in the Music Hall. And, if you check directly under
each seat, you will find that there is a metal frame that can be used to store
Some of you may enjoy watching the Boston Pops Orchestra on
Public Television, with its young Conductor Keith Lockhart. Well, in the
1980s, Keith Lockhart was the Conductor of the Pittsburgh Civic
Orchestra, which, at that time, was one of the resident performing arts
groups of this Music Hall!
Today, this Music Hall has three performing arts groups in
residence. Behind the stage curtain is the set for the current play, The
Pirates of Penzance, which will conclude its three-week run this-coming
weekend. The Pirates of Penzance is being performed by The Pittsburgh
Savoyards, which specializes in Gilbert and Sullivan operettas. Begun in
1938, The Pittsburgh Savoyards is the longest-running theatrical troupe in
The Pirates of Penzance will be shown this weekend on Friday and
Saturday evening at 8:00 p.m. and Sunday at 2:30 p.m.
Another very popular theatrical troupe, which is in residence in this
Music Hall, is Stage 62. Stage 62 will present the musical, Anything Goes,
during the first three weekends of next month. Their Friday and Saturday
shows also begin at 8:00 p.m. However, their Sunday matinee begins at
2:00 p.m.; also, remember that there is no Sunday matinee on the third
The Carnegie Performing Arts Center, a non-profit dance and
drama school, also performs recitals on this stage. And, they have their
dance studio in the lower level of this building.
The next performance of The Carnegie Performing Arts Center will
be the annual showing of the holiday classic, The Nutcracker. So, if you
would like to see The Nutcracker this year, without paying the high
Downtown prices, just come to our Music Hall on Friday, December 13 or
Saturday, December 14 at 7:00 p.m. or Sunday, December 15 at 2:00 p.m.
Now, it is my pleasure to introduce the keynote speaker for this
evening. The family of Peter Krass has deep roots in Carnegie Borough
and Peter was baptized in the Saint John's Evangelical Lutheran Church
on Washington Avenue.
His grandmother, Emma Danziger Krass, at the age of 5, sang with
her first grade class from Lincoln School at the dedication of this Library.
His great, grandfather, William Danziger, settled in Carnegie,
Pennsylvania and worked nearly his entire life at the Duquesne Works of
the Carnegie Steel Company. So, his family has intimate connections with
two major institutions created by Andrew Carnegie. And, Peter recently
served as script consultant for a BBC television program on Andrew
Carnegie, scheduled to air this Winter in Great Britain.
Peter is a graduate of Lafayette College and Seton Hall University
and is a former marketing manager for Dun & Bradstreet. He now lives
with his family in Hanover, New Hampshire.
Peter has written eight books, including The Book of Business
Wisdom, The Book of Leadership Wisdom, and The Book of Management
Wisdom, of the acclaimed Wisdom series, which have been translated into a
number of different languages and distributed around the world. He has
also written for Investor's Business Daily and Across the Board.
Just published is his new book, Carnegie, the first major biography
of Andrew Carnegie in more than thirty years. He will speak to us this
evening about the life of this very complex individual, who donated so
much to our community.
Following his talk, Peter will take questions from the audience.
Then, you will have the opportunity to purchase the book, Carnegie,
autographed by the author. Peter has generously offered to donate five
dollars, from each book sold this evening, to the Andrew Carnegie Free
So, let's have a warm Carnegie welcome for our native son, Peter
Krass.Glenn A. Walsh
E-Mail: < email@example.com >
Web Site: < http://www.andrewcarnegie.cc >