Steel magnate Andrew Carnegie built close to 1,700 libraries in his lifetime. You’ll see a lot of them still used in towns and cities across America. I found one in Xenia while out exploring last weekend.
Carnegie spent about $40 million on his libraries. He believed that libraries were the best gift he could offer a community as it gave equal access to self improvement to all. Some of these libraries are still used for their original function but many have been repurposed into events centers, stores and restaurants. This one, sadly, is just empty.
There had been a revitalization project underway a few years ago but there doesn’t seem to be any movement afoot right now.
The building dates back to 1906 when it opened with a gala affair attended by local social and political leaders. The library eventually outgrew the space this beautiful building offered and a new library was constructed closer to downtown. It was used for storage for a while and then changed hands before eventually being sold to the county. As far as I can tell it has been unused all these years.
Volunteers formed a group called Carnegie Historic District that got it listed on the National Register of Historic Places. In 2017, the library made headlines for efforts to reimagine the building but things have gone quiet and I can’t tell if there’s anything still happening on that front.
It’s a gorgeous Classical Revival with a stained glass dome and ionic columns. I hate to see it empty but certainly understand why. These types of revitalization efforts are costly, time consuming and a real challenge to fund. Here’s hoping they are able to breathe new life into this exquisite piece of history.