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Carnegie Library

Anaheim Carnegie Library

241 S. Anaheim Blvd.
Anaheim, CA  92805
get driving directions

 

This building is now part of the Anaheim Muzeo complex, housing rotating exhibits throughout the year.  The front doors of the building are not generally open. Please go to the Muzeo building entrance  located behind the Carnegie to purchase admission tickets.

 

Carnegie Library History

Anaheim’s Carnegie Library, which has survived two World Wars, lived through the Great Depression and withstood the threat of destruction from urban development, celebrated its 100th birthday in 2009. Today it is the last remaining example of Andrew Carnegie’s benevolence that funded the construction of five public libraries in Orange County shortly after the turn of the century.

 

Although a subscription library had existed in Anaheim since the early 1870s, it wasn’t until the adoption of Ordinance No. 144 in August 1902 that the Anaheim Public Library was established. At this time Anaheim’s book depository was located on a few book shelves in the back of Cornelius Bruce’s Candy Store.

 

In early 1906, Anaheim’s Chamber of Commerce, realizing the positive image a new library building would have on prospective residents and businesses, took upon itself the project of acquiring such a structure. Aware of the funds being granted by Andrew Carnegie for public library construction, the Chamber contacted Carnegie’s office in March 1906. By early 1907 the Chamber had received a firm commitment for a $10,000 grant with the understanding that the City agreed to fund the estimated $1,000 annual operating costs and would provide a suitable site for the building. The City Trustees readily agreed to the terms of the grant. On July 9, 1907 the City accepted the deed to “Original City Lot No. 45,” at the corner of Broadway and Anaheim Blvd. This site was chosen due to its prominent location on a busy route through the County, as well as the willingness of owner William Konig to reduce his asking price from $4,000 to $2,400, the amount pledged by 75 Anaheim residents.

 

After much debate, On January 29, 1908 the City Trustees approved the building plans of John C. Austin, a Los Angeles architect known for designing the Shrine Auditorium and Griffith Park Observatory. Local and Los Angeles press were complementary of the design chosen: a spacious two story 58x80 foot, pressed brick and concrete structure, with an interior of Oregon pine, and capped with a tile roof. When construction bids exceeded the $10,000 Carnegie grant allocated for the project, Austin was required to change some of the building specifications. Finally a bid of $9,589 was received from the firm of Kuechel and Rowley of Orange.

 

The cornerstone, provided by the local Masonic Lodge, was laid on November 21, 1908. The residents of Anaheim formally received their new Public Library building when it opened on New Year’s Day 1909. The building existed for almost two decades without any major modification. The Library Board then concluded that a renovation was necessary. The plan included “repairs, alterations and improvements to walls to make them waterproof, to construct an outside entrance to the south basement room (the children’s department), the toilets to be repaired, and the building to be rewired.”

 

By the mid-1950s it was apparent that the building constructed for a city with a population of 2,000 was woefully inadequate for Anaheim’s rapidly expanding community. Finally in 1963, Anaheim opened a new Central Library. Vacant for three years, the Carnegie Building became the temporary home of the City’s Personnel Department. In 1973, with the adoption by City Council of the far-reaching “Project Alpha” urban renewal plan, the building’s very existence was threatened. Through the efforts of community organizations, such as the Anaheim Historical Society and Anaheim Museum Inc., on February 28, 1978 the Anaheim City Council adopted a Resolution which designated the Carnegie Building as a historical library, research center and museum. The building was also placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1979.

 

In 1985 $781,000 in redevelopment funds were committed to the renovation of the Carnegie Building, including the installation of an elevator, new plumbing, electrical and sewage systems and structural reinforcements. With its history of service and architectural significance in the community, Anaheim’s Carnegie library building is an appropriate and vital part of Anaheim’s new MUZEO complex. Its opening in 2007 provides a visible reminder of Anaheim’s rich heritage for the enjoyment and education of countless residents of Anaheim and Orange County.

 

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