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    Posted April 6, 2014 by
    Munhall, Pennsylvania
    This iReport is part of an assignment:
    Your favorite libraries

    Andrew Carnegie's Grandest Library of All


    Unique from other libraries, the Carnegie Library of Homestead includes a Music Hall, Library, and Athletic Club.

    Built in 1898, the Carnegie Library of Homestead was constructed at a cost of $250,000. The second of three libraries built here in the Steel Valley, the "Carnegie" was built for use by the common man, but adorned with grandeur and opulence fit for a royal family. The Carnegie Library of Homestead is the only library in the United States still holding it’s original endowment of $1,000,000 from Andrew Carnegie himself.

    While people think of a library as a collection of books and periodicals, the Carnegie was, and continues to serve as a community anchor. The building served as a place where families can socialize while learning, to grow strong as a community. Sports activities included boxing, wrestling, gymnastics, swimming and bowling while the library sponsored baseball, football and basketball teams. Academically, the library was home to chess clubs, scouting groups and classroom instruction for non-English speaking immigrants.

    This mission expresses Andrew Carnegie’s vision when he built the facility to serve his workers in the steel mills. Today, many of those same workers’ families are raising their own families here in western Pennsylvania, where the Carnegie – in its second century of service – continues the vision for residents of Munhall, Homestead, West Homestead, Whitaker and surrounding communities. People from near and far flock to our historic, yet state-of-the-art Music Hall to hear the eclectic artists who travel from all over the world to perform here . . . or to patronize our Fitness Center and beautifully-renovated pool where so many of us first learned to swim . . . and, of course, the innovative adult and children’s Library programming is a local gem. The facility itself has been beautifully restored and kept in tact, as it once looked over 100 years ago.

    The Library houses a collection of 35,000 items and utilizes a vast array of resources to offer many programs for both adults and children. We partner with our public school district, charter, and private schools, 32 daycares and kindergartens to bring one-on-one instructional programming unique to the area that focuses on literacy, mathematics, robotics, and technology.

    The Music Hall has a seating capacity of 1,047 and attracts audiences from Michigan to Florida. What once served as a community venue for Carnegie’s own orchestra and choral shows, now serves a national attraction for commercial concerts. Many nationally recognized artists such as Drew Carey, Barenaked Ladies, Sara Barielles, Lisa Lampinelli, Natalie Merchant, Kenny Wayne Shepherd, YES, Boz Scaggs, Brian Setzer and more perform at the Music Hall; generally, over 40 concerts are booked annually. Even with this transition to modern culture, the stage is still home to a beautiful Steinway piano that was donated by Henry Clay Frick and his wife, several years after the library’s dedication.

    The Athletic Club includes several fitness-related amenities, including a newly renovated indoor pool, gymnasium, indoor batting cages, and full-service exercise facility. The Athletic Club caters to both groups, as well as individuals. Currently, there are approximately 700 dues-paying members. We offer not only a facility for physical fitness, but also swim lessons, scuba instruction, paddle boarding, underwater robotics, soccer camps, instructional baseball services, and one-on-one personal training. The Athletic Club is also home to several local public/private schools physical education programs.

    While continuing to meet the demands of today’s community needs as we move to a more technology driven society, once you step inside our doors, you’ll feel like you stepped back in time – to 1898.

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