Between 1886 and 1919, Carnegie donated more than $40 million for the construction of 1,679 public libraries across the United States. He built hundreds more in Great Britain, Australia and New Zealand.
By the time he died in 1919, Carnegie had built more than half of the 3,500 public libraries in the United States. Danville’s Carnegie library, a stately example of the French Beaux-Arts style, served the public from 1904 until 1995. It now houses the county war museum.
Carnegie provided $65,000 — $40,000 for that building, and the rest for the library at the Soldiers Home.
He also funded Carnegie libraries in Hoopeston ($12,500 in 1903), Milford ($7,000 in 1904) and Ridge Farm ($9,000 in 1909). A few miles to the east, in Indiana, Carnegie libraries were built in Attica, Covington, Crawfordsville, Kingman, West Lebanon and Williamsport.
Andrew Carnegie believed that a man who died rich died disgraced.
He said he aspired to contribute to “the enlightenment and the joys of the mind, to the things of the spirit, to all that tends to bring into the lives of the toilers … sweetness and light. I hold this the noblest possible use of wealth.”
Thank you again, Mr. Carnegie.
Danville native Kevin Cullen is a former Commercial-News reporter. Reach him at email@example.com.