Did you know that Andrew Carnegie funded the building of 1,679 libraries, including the amazing former Central Public Library for the District of Columbia
Washingtonians from all across the city remember visiting the Carnegie Library when it was still the Central Public Library for the District of Columbia. What many people may not realize is that their fond memories of the library are only part of the two hundred year history of Mount Vernon Square as a gathering place for the city’s diverse population.
In 1899 Andrew Carnegie was visiting the White House when he heard about the need for a library building in Washington. His contribution eventually totaled $375,000, making it one of the largest donations of the 1,679 library buildings constructed with his funding. There was interest in erecting the library where the National Archives is now located, but Senator McMillan, who was spearheading a movement to beautify the city and complete L’Enfant’s plan, favored Mount Vernon Park, and his opinion won out.
The Washington Public Library was dedicated on January 7, 1903 at a ceremony attended by President Theodore Roosevelt and Andrew Carnegie. There as well was Theodore W. Noyes, associate editor of the Evening Star, and the driving force behind the establishment of the public library, for which he served as board chairman for 50 years.