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120 never looked so good. Happy birthday to the Carnegie!

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Carnegie Library

120 years! Wow, where has the time gone?

The Carnegie Public Library first opened its doors in Bryan in December 1903, but the work really began the year before.

In 1902, the Mutual Improvement Society, later known as the Woman’s Club, was instrumental in securing a grant of $10,000 from the Andrew Carnegie Foundation for the construction of the city’s first public library. The city donated the property at 111 S. Main St., and construction commenced.

Andrew Carnegie, the steel magnate and philanthropist, was the largest individual investor in public libraries in American history. His funds helped establish 2,800 libraries around the world. Ours is the oldest operating Carnegie Library in Texas.

Carnegie Library in early 1900s
Carnegie Library in 1940s
storytimes at the carnegie library in the 1960s
Top: Carnegie in the early 1900s. Left: Carnegie in the 1940s. Right: Children’s Story Time at the Carnegie in 1960.

Designed in Classic Revival style by F. E. Giesecke, a professor of architecture and college architect at Texas A&M, the Carnegie served as Bryan’s public library for decades and quickly became a civic and cultural center for the community.

The second floor meeting room was used by churches to hold their first meetings. Social clubs held their regular meetings there, as well. The American Red Cross used the Carnegie during both World War I and World War II to organize their local war-relief efforts. Plays were performed, music shared, graduations were celebrated, and weekly story times were presented.

Only 14 of the 33 Carnegie libraries in Texas still exist, and Bryan’s is the oldest Carnegie in Texas that is still used for its original intended purpose – as a library.

Come visit the Carnegie History Center this month and help us celebrate this milestone for our historic library and its service to the community.