The Andrew Carnegie Free Library & Music Hall stands at a crossroads.
This beautiful old building in the heart of Carnegie has served as a beacon of education, culture and community activities for not only the town of Carnegie, but for the entire Chartiers Valley. 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 two boroughs of Mansfield and Chartiers consolidated to become one – Carnegie – in order to encourage the philanthropist to donate a library and high school to the new community. Indeed, while the Carnegie name is internationally associated with libraries and he ultimately went on to build more than 2500 of them, the Andrew Carnegie Free Library & Music Hall is the only library in the country bearing Mr. Carnegie’s first name!
The “Carnegie Carnegie” is an imposing “Italianate” structure, situated prominently in a park-like setting of sweeping lawns 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 25,000 volumes, the ACFL&MH houses a lecture hall, a gymnasium, a 780-seat music hall as well as various meeting rooms and offices.
The facility is also home to a genuine national treasure: the Civil War Room that local veterans of that war used from 1906 until the mid-1930s for meetings and to house their collection of flags, books, prints and relics.
The Carnegie Music Hall – just off Broadway in downtown Carnegie – 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 40 years, performs four popular plays annually. The Ninth Pennsylvania Reserves, a Civil War re-enactment group, maintains and provides tours of the Civil War Room. The Music Hall with its supporting spaces is the only theater facility west of downtown Pittsburgh (other than those that are part of a school). 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 100 years and five generations of families — not only from Carnegie but from the surrounding communities of Collier Township, Heidelberg, Oakdale, Pennsbury Village, Pittsburgh, Robinson Township, Rosslyn Farms, Scott Township, and Thornburg.