The Carnegie funded library lasted for about 50 years before it was replaced.
Seattle’s Central Library has been in the heart of downtown since the early 1900s. But back then, it looked nothing like the current building.
The first version was built in 1906 with money from industrialist Andrew Carnegie, who funded library construction across the United States.
Peter J. Weber, an architect from Chicago, won a competition to design the building. It was the first design competition he’d won, according to HistoryLink.
On Dec. 19, 1906, The Seattle Daily Times wrote a brief story about the dedication of the new building.
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“The doors of the new Carnegie Public Library will be opened at 7:30 o’clock this evening when every part of the magnificent new building will be accessible to visitors. At 8 o’clock the program of exercises, including the formal presentation of the library to the city, will commence in the lecture hall on the second floor in the southern part of the building.”
Engraved invitations were sent out as souvenirs to special guests.
By the 1930s the library was not large enough for the people visiting.
Seattle Public Library’s history of the Central Library noted a plan for the library’s future said “during the busy seasons when all the chairs are occupied, library patrons are forced to stand and read while they wait for chairs to be vacated.”
Despite crowding issues the Central Library lasted until 1957 when demolition began after the city passed a bond in 1956 to build a new library in the same location.
That building was replaced again in 2004 with the opening of the current Central Library.