Built in 1898, the Carnegie Library of Homestead was constructed by William Miller and Sons of Pittsburgh at a cost of $250,000. The second d of three libraries built here in the Steel Valley, the Carnegie Library of Homestead was built for use by the common man but adorned with grandeur and opulence fit for a royal family.
In Andrew Carnegie’s book Gospel of Wealth, he wrote, “The best means of benefiting a community is to place within its reach the ladders upon which the aspiring can rise.” With these words, and in deed, Carnegie spent over forty-million dollars to build 1,700 libraries across the nation. In Carnegie’s own estimation, the library at Homestead was one of the finest.
The building itself was not just constructed to house books but to showcase the works of skilled craftsman. Hand-cut Italian marble and beautifully painted murals adorned the walls setting the backdrop for intricately carved oak desks and cabinets. This place was truly Carnegie’s “Gift to the people.”
While people think of a library as a collection of books and periodicals, the Carnegie Library of Homestead was, and has been, much more to the community. Since the last stone was laid before the turn of the twentieth century, the building served as a place where the community can meet, learn and come together. Sports activities included boxing, wrestling, gymnastics, swimming and bowling while the library sponsored baseball, football and basketball teams. Academically, the library was home to chess clubs, scouting groups and classroom instruction for non-English speaking immigrants.
Andrew Carnegie’s vision is alive today as the Carnegie Library of Homestead continues its dedication to the community by providing a source of education and knowledge to the people of the Steel Valley.
To read more about the history of the Carnegie Library of Homestead, please visit the library’s homepage at www.homesteadlibrary.org.