Bruce, Morgan, and Dillon, a design firm who completed construction of the courthouse nine years earlier, crafted the layout of the library. Leading contractor of the time, John A. Kelley, constructed the building, removing the old school and Masonic lodge from the triangular lot at the intersection of Bellevue and Academy avenues and capping the artesian Robinson's Well. As luck would have it, Kelley's bid, matched Carnegie's gift of $10,000.
Construction of the Carnegie Library began in the latter part of 1903, and by May, crews hoisted the thirty two-hundred pound columns into place. Annie Wallace, a professional librarian from Atlanta, advised the architect on the interior design of the building. Completed in mid-September of 1904, the opening of the library was delayed until November 7, 1904.
Strict regulations, including a written application comfirmed by two prominent citizens of Dublin, were required for anyone wishing to check out books from the new library. City residents paid no fees while non residents paid three dollars per year. The library began by opening six days per week from nine a.m. to nine p.m. with hour breaks for lunch and supper.
In March of 1905, a section of the library housed a war museum featuring artifacts of the Civil and Revolutionary Wars along with some Indian relics. In 1912, a monument to the soldiers of the Confederacy was unveiled on the grounds.
*with information & photography from "Pieces of Our Past," a blog by historian Scott Thompson.
Click photo for link.
One of the first fundraising events for the book fund featured Professor William Irving Fayssoux, a clairvoyant and psychic. At three o'clock, Fayssoux blindfolded himself, and drove madly and daringly over the main streets of Dublin, searching for a letter which had been hidden by a prominent Dublinite. Whether he actually found the letter remains a mystery.
Emma Manning, the Carnegie's first librarian, resigned shortly after starting, and Miss Lily Hightower was then elected and served for seventeen years.One morning in June of 1912, Miss Lily Hightower was working in her office when she decided to leave her chair for a few moments. All of a sudden a hundred-pound chunk of ceiling plaster fell directly on the chair recently vacated by Miss Hightower, resulting in the installation of the pressed metal ceiling you see today.
The library continued to grow with circulation increasing from three thousand books per quarter to eight thousand books per quarter over twenty years. The first Laurens County Library was established in 1938 in the county office building on East Madison Street. After a few months of operation, the Laurens County Library merged with the Carnegie Library. County-wide service began with the help of the W.P.A. which funded a traveling librarian. The new service was made also made possible by funds from the Laurens County Commissioners and the County School Board.
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