Carnegie Library History
Xenia’s first library dates to March 1816 when a group of 52 men formed a subscription library. Little is known about this first library’s activities, but the group remained active into the 1870s.
The library movement in Xenia truly began when eight women who were graduates of Xenia College formed the Tuesday Club on August 20, 1878. The intentions of the club were for members to prepare literary papers and discuss literature, activities that would require access to a library.
By 1902, the Young Women’s Library Association had learned about Carnegie’s library building program and decided to apply for a grant. Louisa Lackey and Diana Roberts donated a 200 x 165 foot lot, part of their estate, for the site of the library building (Xenia Daily Gazette, October 24, 1977). That same year, James Bertram, private secretary to Andrew Carnegie, in a handwritten note, granted the organization $20,000 for a library building.
The architect William Kauffman, the nephew of Louisa Lackey and Diana Roberts donated his services in the design of the library. The foundation work on the library began in the fall of 1903, with construction continuing through the following spring. On July 22, 1904, the cornerstone of the library was laid. Construction of the building was completed in 1904, and in June 1905, the ladies requested and were granted an additional $3,500 for library furnishings.
The Xenia Carnegie Library’s official public opening occurred on June 26, 1906 and was a gala affair attended by Xenia’s social and political leaders.
The 1920s saw an expansion of the library system with added branches throughout Greene County. In 1928 a book mobile was purchased to transport books between the branches.
In 1974, the devastating Xenia tornado damaged the hip clay-tile roof, stained glass dome, and several trees. The stained glass dome was repaired, while the clay-tile roof was replaced with asphalt shingles.
Eventually, the Xenia Carnegie Library no longer provided enough space for the growing library system. A new two-story library facility was built in 1978 closer to downtown and the Xenia Carnegie Library closed its doors and was used for storage. In 1983, the building was purchased with the intention of using it as a private residence. However, the building was sold back to the county and currently remains under county ownership.
In 2014 volunteers with the Carnegie Historic District, Inc. worked to develop a nomination to the National Register for Historic Places. Barbara Bradfute, President of the Carnegie Historic District Friends group, urged volunteer Josephine Reno to research and write up the nomination with the assistance of the Ohio History Connection. On February 4, 2015 the Xenia Carnegie Library was officially listed on the National Register of Historic Places, making it eligible for state and federal historic tax credits, as well as other special development funding. Read the official nomination to the National Register of Historic Places (PDF).
In 2015 Carnegie volunteers, including nearby resident City of Xenia Mayor Marsha Bayless, and the City of Xenia Development Department worked together to obtain funding for a formal Historic Structures Report as well as a Master Planning process. Community Development Block Grant funds through the City of Xenia/Ohio Development Services Agency were applied for and obtained by the City of Xenia, to fund the Historic Structures Report, and the Master Planning and Community Input portion was funded in part by a Daniel K. Thorne Intervention Fund from the National Trust for Historic Preservation applied for by Carnegie volunteers. The Historic Structure Report was completed in 2016, and presented to Xenia City Council on February 9, 2017 as a kick off of a 2017 Carnegie Library Master Planning and public input campaign to raise awareness, develop feasible projects, and involve the community into "Reimagining the Xenia Carnegie Library."
Now YOU can be a part of making history for the Xenia Carnegie Library. Read more about the efforts going on to develop feasibility plans, public input, and build a Xenia City/Greene County partnership to find THE perfect end use and developer for the Carnegie and restore this beautiful building for all to once again enjoy.