How One of the Richest Men in America Built the County Library

Completed Carnegie LibraryInside Photo of the LibraryGround Breaking of the Library

Education in Anderson County wouldn’t be what it is today without the efforts of local residents and one of the richest men in America during the 1900s.  The Anderson Public Library started its roots as a large donation from the steel mogul, Andrew Carnegie.

During the turn of the twentieth century, the county had a flourishing school system but no library to support the growing educational needs of the residents.  The newly formed women’s Pierian Club saw the need for a library and took it upon themselves to start one.

The Lawrenceburg National Bank donated two rooms of their then multistory building for the cause.  Members of the club in turn took on the job of librarian.  In a short two years’ time, the little library above the bank had a collection of over 2000 volumes.

But the club wanted a dedicated library.  Then club president, Mrs J C Cantrill, began communicating with the well known steel industrialist and one of the richest men in America, Andrew Carnegie.  By 1908, Carnegie was helping to found libraries across the nation and world for 25 years and would continue for another 21 years.

Before 1899, Carnegie was only giving funds to start libraries in areas he had a personal connection with.  But by 1908, he started substantially increasing his philanthropic activities to different areas and Lawrenceburg was one of them. The club received a $5,000 gift from Carnegie to build the building and also received help from the city government to provide maintenance funds.

However, the women of the Pierian Club were incredibly persuasive and were able to convince Carnegie to help provide furnishings for the new library.  Up to this point, he never gave funding for furnishings, but with appealing letters and news of what the club had accomplished, Carnegie gave another $800 for shelves, tables, and more.

A lot was purchased from TJ Ballard and the new library was constructed by Charles Bond behind Ballard’s Drug store. It was dedicated on October 9th, 1909.  The building would stand strong and has become today’s Anderson County History Museum on East Woodford Street.

Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on TumblrPin on PinterestEmail this to someone
Posted in History & Heritage, School & Education.

One Comment

  1. Love the memories you continue to share. Spent lots of time in this Library. Miss the school we attended for 8 years across the alley. Keep up with these updates. Thanks for what you do.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.