It’s the Open House of a Century in St. Pete
By JON WILSON, Consulting Editor, TB Reporter
The city’s original Andrew Carnegie library celebrates its centennial on Tuesday, Dec. 1
ST. PETERSBURG — St. Petersburg’s first library will hold an open house 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Tuesday (Dec. 1) to celebrate 100 years of service. The library is at 280 Fifth Street N.
Now called the Mirror Lake Community Library, the Beaux Arts-style building was built with funds donated by industrialist Andrew Carnegie. It opened Dec. 1, 1915 with 2,600 volumes. Additions to the building were designed in the same style and completed in 1951 and 1997. Of the 14 Carnegie Libraries built in Florida from 1901 to 1917, Mirror Lake is one of only two that are still operating as a library.
A short program starts at 11:30 a.m. followed by the open house with cake and punch. The open house will feature historic pictures of the library, music by The New Music Conflagration, special appearances by city leaders and guests, and information about the future of the library system’s community partnership center.
When the library opened, it was among several new cultural features, including a theater and an opera house, that began to mark St. Petersburg as a growing town instead of a sleepy village. Starting in 1908, several city leaders pursued a Carnegie grant. Among them were William L. Straub, owner of the St. Petersburg Times; City Council member Ralph Veillard; and activist Annie McCrae, who became the library’s first secretary. The Carnegie organization awarded the $17,500 grant in 1913 and the library’s site overlooking Mirror Lake was chosen in 1914.
It served as the city’s only library until today’s Main Branch library opened in 1964 on Ninth Avenue N. The original library has been on the National Registry of Historic Places since 1986.
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