History

ACFL&MH History

The Andrew Carnegie Free Library & Music Hall stands at a crossroads.

Since 1901, this beautiful old building in the heart of Carnegie has served as a beacon of education, culture and community activities for Carnegie and beyond. Built with money provided by the famed industrialist, the Andrew Carnegie Free Library & Music Hall (ACFL&MH) is one of only four endowed libraries built by Andrew Carnegie in the United States.

The ACFL&MH is the county’s fifth oldest Carnegie Library. The ACFL&MH is distinguished not only by its age and endowment, but by the fact that the town it graces was named for Mr. Carnegie. In 1894, the boroughs of Mansfield and Chartiers consolidated to become one – Carnegie.  The ACFL&MH is the philanthropist’s enduring gift to the community that took his name.

The “Carnegie Carnegie” is a gracious “Italianate” structure, situated y in a park-like setting of sweeping lawn and majestic old trees in the center of Carnegie. As with a few other historic Carnegie institutions, library does not adequately describe the facility. In addition to serving as a community library of 20,000 volumes, the ACFL&MH houses a lecture hall, a gymnasium, a 425-seat music hall as well as various meeting rooms and offices.

The facility is also home to a genuine national treasure: the Captain Thomas Espy Post No. 153 of the Grand Army of the Republic.  Local veterans of the Civil War custom-furnished a second floor room in the Library  to hold their meetings and to house their collection of flags, books, prints and relics.  They met here from 1906 until the last member died in the late 1930s.

The Carnegie Music Hall – literally located where “Broadway meets Main Street” – is an elegant theater modeled on the acoustic excellence of its only slightly more famous New York City counterpart. The Music Hall is home to two resident performing arts companies: Carnegie Performing Arts Center, a non-profit dance and drama school and Stage 62, a true community theater for more than 50 years, performs four popular plays annually.

In 1981, the ACFL&MH was listed on the National Register of Historic Places, one of only three buildings in the Chartiers Valley to bear this distinction.

The Andrew Carnegie Free Library & Music Hall was built as a focal point for its growing mill town, and indeed it has served in that capacity for more than a century and  generations of families — not only from Carnegie but from the surrounding communities. The Carnegie Carnegie employs its lovely community library, a gem of a regional performance venue and a national treasure of a Civil War room to advance its mission of service.