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The Old Parkersburg Carnegie Public Library
 
By Larry Brian Radka
(An Old Parkersburg Resident)
 
 
 

The Cornerstone of the Carnegie Public Library at 725 Green Street in Parkersburg, West Virginia was laid on October 20, 1904 amid a big ceremony conducted by the Grand Lodge of Masons.

 
 

Various dignitaries spoke, the choir from the old Parkersburg High School next door sang, prayers were uttered, and the Boys’ Drum Corps played the “Star Spangled Banner.”

 
 

The inscription on this stately edifice lists those responsible for its erection, inside and out—the Parkersburg Board of Education, as well as the architect, E. T. Sanderson, and the contractor, C. W. Prewett.  Andrew Carnegie provided a $34,000 grant to build this Classical Revival style building.

 
 

Andrew Carnegie (1835-1919) was an American industrialist and philanthropist.  Once the world's richest man, he would today be worth 298.3 billion dollars, according to Forbes—but his enormous wealth did not prevent him from being a kind and hard-working man.  His essay “The Gospel of Wealth” (1889) set forth his idea that rich men are “trustees” of their wealth and should administer it for the good of the public.  Unlike so many wealthy pigs today, his money stood behind his mouth; and among his many benefactions stand over 2,800 libraries—a great testament to his respect for knowledge.

 
 
 

This one boasts several reading rooms with ornate fireplaces, a tile floor in the entryway, hand-carved wooden staircases in the front of the building, and a wrought-iron spiral staircase with a brass handrail in the rear of the building.

 
 

The rear of the building also has glass floors and a stained-glass window.

 

 

Parkersburg used this building for its library until January of 1976.

 

 

In December of 1985, it was re-opened, still full of books, but now as Trans Allegheny Booksnow the largest used book store in West Virginia.

 
 

The bookstore proudly displays a portrait of Andrew Carnegie, which was received by the library in honor of their 50th anniversary, then was lost and later recovered at a yard sale. 

 
 

Stop by and peruse the contents of the old Carnegie Library sometime, and also visit some of the other attractions offered by Parkersburg, West Virginia and its environs.

 

 

 
 
 
This page was last modified on Wednesday, January 20, 2016