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The Carnegie Libraries of Cincinnati

Photography by Tim Jeffries

The Carnegie Libraries of Cincinnati

Photography by Tim Jeffries

The Andrew Carnegie Foundation and The Public Library Of Cincinnati and Hamilton County Andrew Carnegie had very little formal education in his home country of Scotland. When he was 12 years old, his family relocated to Allegheny, Pennsylvania, a suburb of Pittsburgh, where he found work in a textile factory, helping to support his family. His first experience with a library happened when he met Colonel James Anderson, who opened his personal library every Saturday to any young worker wishing to read a book. Through this act of generosity, Carnegie stated that the Colonel “opened to me the intellectual wealth of the world�. Carnegie was so influenced by this experience that he vowed if he ever became wealthy, he would do what he could to make information available to other poor workers. Carnegie spent a lifetime building an industrial empire and accumulating a fortune of more than $400 million. He never forgot the impact that Colonel Anderson’s library had on him in his youth. He felt obliged to do something with his wealth, and free libraries was one of the seven fields of philanthropy in which he thought his wealth could be used to benefit society. Starting in 1881, Carnegie made grants to communities for the building of libraries, with the first grant being given to his own hometown of Dunfermline, Scotland. A grant of $280,000 was given to Cincinnati; the money was used to build nine Carnegie libraries between 1905 and 1915. Eight of the buildings remain today, with seven of the buildings still functioning as libraries.

Avondale Branch

The Avondale Branch is one of the nine area libraries in Hamilton County built with funds provided by the Andrew Carnegie Foundation. Designed by the architectural firm Garber and Woodward, the Spanish Colonial style structure features a Rookwood tile entry, decorative iron work, and a domed ceiling. A Rookwood drinking fountain was presented to the branch by the Avondale Improvement Association to mark its opening on March 1, 1913. Carnegie Grant: $45,293 Architects: Garber & Woodward (Cincinnati) Size: 71’ x 82’

Corryville Branch

The North Cincinnati Branch opened on April 2, 1907, built with funds provided by the Andrew Carnegie Foundation. Large stone columns flank the entrance of the Renaissance Revival building, and a decorated stone pediment tops the doorway. The interior is dominated by a large stained glass dome supported by a circle of oak columns. In 1996, the facility underwent a major renovation and restoration project. When it reopened in August of 1997 it was renamed the Corryville Branch to better reflect the community it serves. Carnegie Grant: $46,805 Architect: Edward L. Tilton (New York) Size: 85’ x 89’

From 1899 to 1911, library services were offered in Hyde Park through a delivery station in a drugstore. The current building was built with funds donated by the Andrew Carnegie Foundation in 1912 and is one of the seven remaining Carnegie libraries in Hamilton County. In 1970, the branch underwent an extensive expansion and renovation project. At that time, a fish pond and a hand-painted mural (“A Children’s Party in a Forest” by Michael Scott) were installed in the Children’s Room. Carnegie Grant: $39,094 Architect: Edward L. Tilton (New York) Size: 60’ x 70’

Hyde Park Branch

The Cumminsville Branch opened as a modest facility in rooms on the corner of Hoffner and Spring Grove Avenues on June 10, 1879. Funding problems forced the library to close in 1882. In 1904, Northside residents appealed to the Cincinnati Public Library to reopen the branch. Funded by the Andrew Carnegie Foundation, a new building was opened to the public in April of 1908. An extensive renovation and remodeling project begun in August of 1999 temporarily closed the library. In September of 2000, it reopened as the Northside Branch Library Carnegie Grant: $31,961 Architects: Tietig & Lee (Cincinnati) Size: 90’ x 54’

Northside Branch

Library service in the Village of Norwood began in 1898, when the Cincinnati and Hamilton County library system established a book delivery station in a drugstore. The current building, completed in 1907, was built with funds donated by the Andrew Carnegie Foundation. The Italian Renaissance style structure features two Rookwood urns near the front entrance and two Clement Barnhorn bas reliefs. In 2001, a number of improvements were made to the existing facility, including the restoration of some of the building’s original architectural elements and the purchase of new furniture, shelving, carpeting, lighting and computer equipment. Carnegie Grant: $25,000 Architects: Werner & Adkins (Cincinnati) Size: 78’ x 70’

Norwood Branch

Price Hill Branch

The Price Hill Branch, which opened in 1909, is one of the nine area libraries in Hamilton County built with funds provided by the Andrew Carnegie Foundation. Notable features of the French Renaissance style brick and limestone building include a roof with tin deck and slate slopes, fleur-de-lis grid over the doors, bird head door handles, and cherry wood shelves. Carnegie Grant: $26,707 Architects: Garber & Woodward (Cincinnati) Size: 68’ x 68’

Walnut Hills Branch

Walnut Hills Branch Library opened in April 7, 1906, replacing two neighborhood deposit stations. Designed in the French Renaissance style, it was the first of nine branch libraries in Cincinnati built through the generosity of philanthropist Andrew Carnegie. The twin columns at the entrance arrived from Munich, Germany, with the Tyler Davidson Fountain, and later were incorporated into the building’s design. Paintings in the adult reading room are the gift of a local artist. Other special features include the original birch-stained mahogany woodwork and the stained glass window in the vestibule, a gift commissioned and purchased for the library by an area couple. Carnegie Grant: $46,150 Architects: McLaughlin & Gilmore (Cincinnati) Size: 99’ x 74’





Hyde Park






Price Hill


Walnut Hills


Cincinnati Carnegies v2  

The Carnegie Branch Libraries of Cincinnati

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