First Memory: We were new to Carnegie, having moved to Washington Gardens a short time before. My wife, Ann, told me she had discovered a Civil War Room upstairs in an old library building on Beechwood Avenue. The Library was designed as a community center when it opened around 1900. Classes of school children would line up at the school and walk to the Library. Schools did not have libraries as they do today.
I found that the drive into the Library grounds from Beechwood Avenue, lined with huge old trees, was not paved and became muddy when it rained or snowed. The best maintenance for driving and parking was at the side entrance as a church group was using the Music Hall for their meetings, etc. The site of the building received little attention as the land sloped down toward the back of a row of businesses on the street below.
The tall wooden doors of the Library front entry opened on a tiled foyer that was flanked by curing stairs on either side leading to the second floor. There we found a meeting room that was designed for the use of the Borough Council. Other rooms opened onto the landing as well.
Someone from the staff went upstairs with us, opened the door to one of the rooms and we found it was used as a storage room for old desks, chairs and discards from the time when the Borough Council met in the adjoining area on the second floor. Along the walls of this room were glass-fronted cases with shelves displaying various Civil War artifacts. We learned it had been the meeting room for Civil War veterans at the turn of the century.
Later examination of the room and records of the Veterans who had served in the Union Army and their many contributions of war memorabilia brought the realization that this was a rare collect to be prized and preserved.
We then had a tour of the entire building. Through the back of the Library section, we were taken to the Music Hall. It was stunning – a miniature replica of Carnegie Hall in New York City! Now it was dram and worn and across the stage hung a rather tattered backdrop of Andrew Carnegie’s Skibo Castle in Scotland.