Carnegie Library

April 19, 2010

CALIFORNIA HISTORY AND GENEALOGY ROOM, FRESNO COUNTY PUBLIC LIBRARY

Then: Fresno got it’s first permanent library in 1904 at 1330 Broadway St. thanks to a $30,000 grant from Andrew Carnegie.

Funded by an Andrew Carnegie grant of $30,000, construction of the Fresno Public Library at 1330 Broadway St., between Merced and Tuolumne streets, started in 1901 and was completed in 1904.

Designed by New York architects Copeland and Dole in the Classic Revival (Type A) style, it was built by A.M. Jones.

The library building was demolished in 1959, and a city parking lot was built on the site.

In the mid-1870s in Fresno, social and literary clubs existed. By the 1880s, there were public — but not tax-supported — libraries.

Fresno’s first public library was founded in 1893 and was housed in various locations. The Carnegie library provided Fresno with its first permanent library building.

County supervisors created the Fresno County Free Library District in 1910 to help serve rural Valley towns.

The district established library branches throughout the county and organized traveling libraries. By 1919, the county had 73 library branches.

Scottish-born Andrew Carnegie (1835-1919) was an American industrialist and businessman. Becoming one of the richest men in history, he founded Carnegie Steel Co., which later merged with several other steel companies and, in 1901, was sold to J.P. Morgan, who created U.S. Steel.

With his vast fortune, Carnegie turned to philanthropy, giving away most of his money to help fund libraries, including local libraries, school libraries and university libraries.

The Fresno Public Library was one of 12 Carnegie-built libraries in the Central Valley. Of these, four remain: Clovis, Hanford, Orosi and Exeter.

John Walker/The Fresno Bee

Now: Today, the site of the old Fresno Public Library is a parking lot.