Carnegie libraries in Indiana

29 comments on Carnegie libraries in Indiana
2 minutes

Not long ago I shared a photo of the Carnegie library in Thorntown, Indiana, and linked to an old post of a few other Carnegie libraries I’ve photographed. But I’ve photographed so many other Carnegie libraries that I thought it’s time for a new post full of them.

The first one I ever knowingly saw was in Greensburg. I came upon it when I surveyed the Michigan Road from end to end in 2008. It looked like this then:

Former City Hall

As far as I knew, it had always been the City Hall. But on a subsequent trip, the City Hall sign had been removed to reveal “Carnegie Public Library” beneath. I believe this building is a private residence today.

Carnegie library

I came upon the Carnegie library in North Vernon in 2010 while exploring US 50 across Indiana. I believe this building is used for some municipal purpose today.

North Vernon library

I have photographed the Carnegie library in Kirklin more than any other. I like little Kirklin, it’s not very far from my home, and it’s on the old Michigan Road.

Kirklin Pvblic Library

I found the Carnegie library in Paoli in 2012 while exploring the old Dixie Highway in southern Indiana. I don’t think this is used as a library anymore.

Paoli Carnegie Library

I photographed Sheridan’s Carnegie library in 2015 while on an outing with my Olympus Trip 35 camera. The building is still a library. Sheridan is in the county north of Indianapolis.

Sheridan Carnegie Library

From a road trip along the National Road in western Indiana in 2015, here’s the Carnegie library in Knightstown. It’s still a library, I’m pretty sure.

Carnegie Library

In the west Indianapolis neighborhood where I used to go to church, a Carnegie library has been converted into a community center.

Hawthorne Center

In Brookville, in southeast Indiana, the Carnegie library appears to still be a library. I photographed this late last year.

Brookville, IN

In Thorntown, in Boone County, the Carnegie library has been expanded and remains a library. I made this photograph in 2018 on color slide film.

Thorntown Carnegie Library

In Lebanon, also in Boone County, I’ve never photographed the Carnegie library in total, but I did photograph this detail last year.

Carnegie Library

What’s remarkable to me is how no two Carnegie libraries I’ve encountered look anything alike!

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29 responses to “Carnegie libraries in Indiana”

  1. dionyb Avatar

    Great post!

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      Judging by the number of comments that have come in already, many others agree!

  2. Miles Flynn Avatar
    Miles Flynn

    Very enjoyable look at some real gems. We’re blessed with a couple here in Orange County. In addition to the old Paoli building, which was sold a few years ago, there’s also a lovely example in Orleans that includes a tasteful addition that about doubled its floor space. You’re right how no two seem to be alike. I will say the one in Shoals, though, is remarkably similar to Paoli’s. Always enjoy your posts and hope your new year is getting better.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      I’ve seen a few expanded Carnegie libraries. The one in Kirklin, for example. I love to see them still in use as libraries! I’ve not seen the one in Shoals.

  3. Kurt Ingham Avatar
    Kurt Ingham

    Pretty neat stuff!

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      Thanks! Hope you’re feeling all right.

  4. Schmitt Avatar

    That’s so weird that you don’t find them alike – the top two are to me identical. Where I grew up, we had two Carnegie libraries in the style of some of the others: arch window, half-story basement with separate entrance, wide eaves. Every time you post a photo of that style I do a double-take and check if it’s “one of mine”!

    1. Schmitt Avatar

      My kingdom for an edit button. I now see that the first two photos are the same building, minus the sign and those trees in front of the windows :D

    2. Jim Grey Avatar

      The top two are identical! ;-)

  5. conspicari Avatar

    The municipal library in my hometown came about by a donation from Andrew Carnegie, apparently he was there at the opening in 1905, the library is still in use today.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      Very nice! Thanks for the link.

  6. Andy Umbo Avatar
    Andy Umbo

    Jim, such a valuable documentation! You should do them all in Indiana! I’ve often wondered how many have actually been torn down, I see them well taken care of, and some in various states of disrepair, but not torn down. Seems like there’s always a lot of “muscle memory” for what they meant to the community that makes them treasured.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      So many project ideas, so little time!

  7. J P Avatar

    You made me look up the one in Fort Wayne. It was larger than these, apparently funded in 1904. It looked like a small courthouse, and was torn down in 1965. A new main library was built in 1968 at a different location, and that’s the only one I have ever known.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      Oh nice. It’s a shame it was demolished.

  8. brandib1977 Avatar

    Now that you mention it, I haven’t found two alike either. They tend to have certain qualities that make them easily recognizable as a Carnegie but are always unique in their own way. There were over 2,500 built in this country so that’s quite an accomplishment.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      Yes, exactly – “well that’s a Carnegie for sure” but it is different from all the others.

  9. Ed Marchesi Avatar
    Ed Marchesi

    Enjoyed todays blog about Carnegie Libraries. The library in Mt. Vernon looks like the post office in my old home town. Sorry for your lose as well.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      Hunh, well, I guess these buildings do sometimes have a “municipal” feel to them! Thanks for your condolences.

  10. tcshideler Avatar

    This may have been mentioned already, but the Carnegie Library in Knightstown is still a library. I did some research in its basement several years ago.

    Next time you venture north on I-69, come to Muncie to see ours. It is almost unequivocal in terms of design; it’s a landmark. I have many happy minorities of going there to check out books. Now it mostly holds our county’s old records and serves as a genealogical site while our modern branches serve general interests.

    On your way home go to downtown Anderson. The Carnegie there is similarly well-appointed and is now that city’s arts center. Both are extant examples of how Carnegie could be swooned- apparently Muncie’s got our ridiculous Library from a local reproducing his daughter’s favorite spoon. I think, at least! That was the story told when I participated at a panel discussion there.

    1. tcshideler Avatar

      Duh, autocorrect. Many happy memories! Though I’ve met many minorities there who were pleasant as well. Geesh.

    2. Jim Grey Avatar

      So many things to document, so little time! I could spend a year on a Carnegie library project.

      1. tcshideler Avatar

        I could easily too, once I finish all of these schoolhouses! Actually, this project has been suggested to me several times. No time!

  11. tbm3fan Avatar

    Seeing those tall brick chimneys brings an immediate flashback to my mind. They remind me of how fragile and dangerous they can be after an earthquake. Down the street from me, on Clement Street S.F., two three story buildings had brick facades. The Loma Prieta quake knocked every brick off both of them into the sidewalk where fortunately no one was standing at the time. A pile of scattered bricks all over and it only would take one to the head.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      Given that earthquakes aren’t really a thing here, it’s not on our minds at all!

  12. TK Avatar

    Both Goshen and Crawfordsville claim to be the first Carnegie library in Indiana (even on their historical bureau markers). I investigated this awhile back because I’m from Goshen and always knew their claim but had been unaware of Crawfordsville’s.

    While Crawfordsville broke ground first and opened first, Goshen was the first to receive the award from Carnegie. Carnegie required that local taxes supplement his money for the buildings, so Goshen folks led the charge to have a state law passed that allowed local communities to establish the taxes to raise funds for Carnegie libraries. This provided the opportunity for others to follow suit, and consequently Indiana had more Carnegie libraries than any other state. Goshen opened second, about 7 months after Crawfordsville. Both buildings still stand but now serve different purposes.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      Fascinating history! Thanks!

  13. Steve Mitchell Avatar

    Here is one in Hokitika, a small town on the remote West Coast of New Zealand.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      How cool! Thanks for sharing the photo.

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