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Carnegie Free Library

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1902–1903, Frederick Osterling. 1301 7th Ave.

Andrew Carnegie's letter announcing a grant of $50,000 to Beaver Falls for a new library was front-page news in the Beaver Times of September 1899. For sixteen years, a local library committee had been raising funds for the effort. Carnegie's usual conditions prevailed: the city must provide a site and fund the onoing maintenance of the building. Frederick J. Osterling had designed one library, several office buildings, churches, and houses for wealthy patrons like Charles Schwab by the time he received this commission. Set back on its site to allow for an imposing staircase, the library displays the Classical Revival attributes found in many Carnegie libraries nationwide. The heavy, squarish massing of the hipped-roof, yellow-orange brick building is dominated by a dentil-lined pediment supported by massive two-story stone columns. A large semicircular arched stained glass window highlights the two-story entrance bay and illuminates the interior stairwell, and stone belt courses and pilasters articulate each bay. The 13th Street elevation has three arched doorways (two now bricked in) with lunettes and keystones that marked the entrance to the former auditorium at the rear.

In plan, the library has a central room on each floor that is flanked by smaller rooms. The dark wooden interior trim is highlighted by fluted Corinthian columns delineating the entrances to the various rooms on the first story. There is a fireplace in the original children's reading room, which is used today as a general reading room. The upper stories were used as classrooms and offices for the local schools.

Writing Credits

Lu Donnelly et al.


What's Nearby


Lu Donnelly et al., "Carnegie Free Library", [Beaver Falls, Pennsylvania], SAH Archipedia, eds. Gabrielle Esperdy and Karen Kingsley, Charlottesville: UVaP, 2012—,

Print Source

Cover: Buildings of PA vol 1

Buildings of Pennsylvania: Pittsburgh and Western Pennsylvania, Lu Donnelly, H. David Brumble IV, and Franklin Toker. Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 2010, 150-151.

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