Carnegie Library becomes art center

Goodland applies for a library building

Andrew Carnegie

Andrew Carnegie

In 1901, Andrew Carnegie (1885-1919) retired with what today would be a multi-billion dollar fortune. He believed that “a man who dies rich dies disgraced” and began giving away his fortune as community library grants.
Goodland applied for a library grant and received $10,000, which would be worth $250,000 today. But Carnegie was a controversial figure. At least 10 men had died when Carnegie’s company had broken a strike in 1892.

Goodland citizens had to vote for a library tax in order to receive a grant. The election became a landmark in the march to women’s voting rights. Kansas women had been allowed to vote in municipal elections in 1887. But was this election a municipal one?

In 1909, City Attorney E.F. Mercer ruled that the election was indeed a municipal one.

Both Carnegie and the women’s vote were controversial. Anticipating a challenge, votes were separated by the voters’ genders, but no challenge arose and the tax was passed.

The grant was approved.

Kansas women were granted the right to vote in state elections in 1912. All American women were allowed to vote in 1920.

Carnegie Arts Center

Carnegie Arts Center

Goodland receives a new library

The new two-story building at 120 W. 12th opened Feb. 8, 1913, one of 59 Kansas Carnegie libraries. Barrenson Brothers of Denver was the architect and Fred Hunt was the builder. The Italian Renaissance Revival style building features buff-colored bricks and a hipped terra cotta roof. The building is nearly unchanged from its original appearance. Hunt also built Ennis-Handy House.
The building remained Goodland’s library until 1975. It had become overcrowded and the voters passed a $275,000 bond issue in 1972 to build a new one. That sum would be worth $1.6 million today. The current Goodland Public Library stands at 812 Broadway.

The Goodland Arts Council formed in 1978. In October 1983, they requested the use of the Carnegie Library. The City Commission granted their request and volunteers renovated the building. Goodland Arts Council moved in June 18, 1984, renaming the building Carnegie Arts Center. The building was placed on the National Historic Register Sept. 13, 1985. Local and regional artists’ works are for sale here.

Call 785-890-6442 or see Facebook page for hours and more information, including artists’ exhibitions and other events.


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