Forty years on the National Register of Historic Places
November 17, 2014
Carnegie Library on the National Register of Historic Places for Forty Years
It's been forty years since the Laurens Carnegie Library was placed on the National Register of Historic Places. In November of 1974, two foresighted library trustees at the time, Jeanne Cowan and Pat Harms, successfully submitted an application to the National Park Service.
The building is called a “Carnegie Library” because it was built with a grant from Andrew Carnegie, described by some as an industrialist and others as a robber baron. He made his fortune in the steel industry at the turn of the twentieth century. Mr. Carnegie also had a fondness for libraries and he helped to fund 1,689 libraries in the United States. Laurens, the smallest town in the country to be awarded a Carnegie grant, received $3,800, nearly the total cost of construction in 1910. The town had to donate the building site and agree to support the library annually.
Smaller and humbler than most of the Carnegie libraries in the state, the Laurens building was unique in its style and building materials. It was built in the Mission style and the exterior was finished in plaster cement on steel lath. Almost all Carnegie libraries had a staircase leading up to a prominent door, which served to symbolize elevation through learning. The lamppost placed in front was a symbol of enlightenment. The inside of the library featured curved ceiling beams and built-in window seats perfect for snuggling up with a book.
Pocahontas County Historical Society Museum has been housed in the Carnegie Library since 1976 when the new library was opened. The museum volunteers are happy to open the museum at any time both for individuals as well as groups. Clubs are encouraged to attend and programs and tours are available. To arrange a visit call Dorothy Lamberti at 573-692-5614.