Boulder Arts + Culture
Support Your Library

Home > Local History | Genealogy - Carnegie Branch Library

Our History

The Carnegie Branch Library is housed in the original Boulder Public Library. The library was built in 1906 with money donated by steel tycoon Andrew Carnegie.

Carnegie donated $15,000 for the library to be built with the agreement from the city that $1500 would be set aside each year to maintain the building and the collection.

Located at 1125 Pine Street, it can be recognized by the two Greek columns that give it the neoclassical look chosen by architect Thomas McLaren of Colorado Springs. Because the people of Boulder were proudly calling their town the "Athens of the West," McLaren patterned the library after a small Greek temple that had been unearthed in 1905 near Athens. The exterior is built of sand-lime facing brick with sandstone detail.

The windows have glass segmented by a metal frame in a fish scale pattern. The ceiling is patterned tin, and the floors are pine. The green marble fireplace was imported from Vermont. Inside, a large open two-story room, complete with fireplace, greets patrons who cross through the airlock entry. The open spacious design allowed the librarians over the years, to move the furniture and stacks to meet the demands of a growing collection.

The Carnegie Library was able to keep up with the town's needs until the population doubled the decade after World War II.

The slide show requires Flash Player to display

By 1961, the attractive little building was bulging with books and patrons, and a new library was built at 1000 Canyon Boulevard. Used for recreation programs and later as a city warehouse, the Carnegie showed signs of deterioration and neglect as its role in the community diminished.

In 1981, Library staff rallied to regain ownership of the building. With the Colorado collection outgrowing space at the Main Library, the entire collection of books, maps, oral histories and documents were moved into the little building on Pine Street. The Boulder Genealogical Society also moved their collection from the Main Library onto the premises. Oak ceiling beams, pine flooring, leaded windows, and a marble fireplace were restored to their original beauty. New furniture and book stacks were installed. In 1983, it became a library again when the Boulder Public Library reopened it as the Carnegie Branch Library for Local History.