308 N Walnut St
Pittsburg, KS 66762
A rare Andrew Carnegie library without elaborate, ornate decorations, or his name – both were compromises with area miners angered with his involvement.
The Pittsburg Public Library first opened its doors on January 18, 1902, when the west wing of the city office building was used to house the small collection of books. The citizens quickly realized the value of such an institution, and the librarys popularity grew so quickly that by 1907 the Board of Trustees began looking for ways to secure funds for a larger building.
Steel magnate Andrew Carnegie was already well known for his philanthropy towards libraries across the country, and the Pittsburg library community approached him for much needed support. His donation of $40,000 angered the miners of the area and in order to appease them, the Board agreed to leave the Carnegie name off of the front of the proposed building.
The architectural firm of Patton and Miller of Chicago was hired to design the building with S.S. Geatches serving as contractor. The new building, completed in 1912, was one of the few Carnegie libraries built in Prairie Style architecture, another concession to the miners who did not want an elaborate, ornate facility. The building features an exterior of Carthage limestone and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
The library operated for many years in the original Carnegie building, but it was eventually outgrown as well. A one-half cent sales tax was passed in 1994, and plans to build an addition and renovate the historic Carnegie building were put into place. The library underwent an extensive addition and renovation in 1996-98. The firm of Glenn Livingood Penzler (now GLPM Architects) of Lawrence, KS, designed the project, and the contractor was R.E. Smith Construction of Joplin, MO.
Characteristics and details of the original building have been incorporated into the addition, and the furnishings reflect the Arts and Crafts style made popular during the early 1900’s. Restoring the glory of the original building without disturbing its historical integrity earned the architectural firm of Glenn Livingood Penzler an award from the Kansas Preservation Alliance.