Located in Mt. Vernon Square, a reservation on Pierre L’Enfant’s 1791 Plan for the City of Washington, the Carnegie Library was the gift of philanthropist Andrew Carnegie to the nation’s capital. The building was designed by the New York architectural firm of Ackerman & Ross in the Beaux Arts style and was dedicated on June 7, 1903, in the presence of President Theodore Roosevelt. In his remarks that day, Mr. Carnegie indicated that the building was open to all no matter of race. For the next 70 years, the building served as the city’s central library until it outgrew its space and moved to the new Martin Luther King, Jr. Library at 9th and G Streets, NW.
The old Carnegie Library was then used by the University of the District of Columbia for several years but sat vacant after the University moved out. In the early 2000’s the Historical Society of Washington, DC leased the building for its new home and for a new City Museum which it operated on the first floor. The City Museum closed in 2004, but the Historical Society remained on the second floor. Various proposals for the building over the next years included a music museum and a relocation of the for-profit Spy Museum, but none of these schemes materialized.
In May 2017, the National Capital Planning Commission initiated consultation meetings under both the National Environmental Policy Act and the National Historic Preservation Act to invite comments from interested parties on proposed plans for a public-private partnership that envisions a much needed restoration of the building and the opening of an Apple flagship store on the first floor. The Historical Society will stay on the second floor. The Committee of 100 will participate in the consultation meetings by offering comments and recommendations as the project develops.
- C100 Comments NEPA Scoping Meeting Carnegie Library
- May 26, 2017, Stephen A. Hansen
As a follow-up to the National Environmental Policy Act Scoping Meeting on the Carnegie Library held by your commission on May 9, the Committee of 100 on the Federal City (C100) has the following preliminary comments. Several of these points were raised briefly at that meeting with Ms. Elizabeth Edelsen Estes, a representative of your consultant Stantec.