My hometown benefited a century ago from Andrew Carnegie as the philanthropic entrepreneur

If you haven’t seen much of my writing on this blog, it is because I have been busy working on the Carnegie library in my hometown. There are many people who are supporting this effort of restoring the grand old building. Thankfully it is on the National Historical Register. On July 12th was the deadline for when I wrote a grant for $10,000 just to have an architectural engineer come in to look at the 50 ‘ x 50’ structure. Hopefully that will happen in October and then our historical society can proceed with the $50,000 grant that will help get this place back to pristine shape.
This building was designed by Bert Keck and completed in 1908. They had their dedication for the building on November 27, 1908 where movers and shakers from the community gave their speeches. I think if the great philanthropist, Andrew Carnegie, were alive today he would be proud of the fact that his legacy continues. That cannot be said of many of the other libraries that he donated money to throughout the U.S. Sadly, some have been torn down in the name of “progress.” In fact, Carnegie gave $38,256,864 to have 1,539 libraries built throughout the U.S. with his name on them. The other day, we visited one in Grafton, North Dakota built in 1904. But by far, ours is bigger and much more beautiful. But then, it shows that my hometown had a LOT of money rolling through it over 100 years ago.
Our place will be known as the “Archival Storage Facility” where historical records of the county and city will be stored downstairs for archivists and researchers to go through. Upstairs where it looks grand with pillars and archways, will be for art displays, wedding receptions, mini-concerts, lectures, Powerpoint presentations, etc. We have much work to do to restore the place to its original look. We need to take down the florescent lights and put in old time fans and domed light bulbs. We need to take up the linoleum flooring and have an expert come to refinish the hardwood floors. Already we took out all the books that had been stored on the main floor, but they all need to be cataloged and inputted on “Past Perfect” software. Oh, the dust! We have had new sheetrock put in and a fresh paint job on all the walls. We will open this to the public on August 15th so they can see our “work-in-progress.”
Not sure why the photos that were taken by a colleague, friend of mine cannot be uploaded. I’ll work on that problem. He is inspired to help on our “clean-up” day on August 10th. We will have a former resident of our community come to take photos of six of his siblings who were sitting around a table in 1962 downstairs in the children’s section. They are all still living fifty years later and he will re-enact the photo if they all make it to their reunion. The amazing thing is he also donated the very table they were sitting around. We went to North Dakota several days ago thinking we were going to pay him $400 but he said the golden oak table was priceless, no dollar amount could be assigned to it. He was giving it back to our historical society to be put back into use in the restored Carnegie library. From big gift of $17,500 from Carnegie over one hundred years ago, to this gift, we feel blessed beyond measure with all the other donations that are coming in.

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