Carnegie Free Library in Ballard opens on June 24, 1904.

  • By David Wilma
  • Posted 6/20/2002
  • Essay 3855

On June 24, 1904, the Carnegie Free Library in Ballard opens in a new building on the north side of Broadway opposite Burke Avenue (2026 NW Market Street). The Classic Revival structure was designed by Henderson Ryan and was built with a $15,000 grant from philanthropist Andrew Carnegie (1835-1919). Ballard Register publisher George H. Hitchcock is the first librarian. The Ballard News announces, "It is hoped each visitor will bring a book to start the new library."

The library featured radiating stacks, a librarian's room, a men's smoking room, a ladies' conversation room, and a 500-seat auditorium on the second floor. The exterior was of pressed brick and stone trimmings and measured 64 feet by 57 feet. The interior was finished with weathered oak. The Ballard Chain Gang did the landscape grading and walkway construction under supervision of police.

More Violins Than Books

Opening ceremonies were organized by the Current Century Club and included a diverse musical program with selections by The Ballard Band, The Thurston Orchestra, the Singing Society Norden, soprano Marguerite Longacre, and the Hedley Quartette of Violins. Alice Hamblet gave a reading and Joseph Shippen of Seattle gave the address.

A call for books for the free library immediately went out. While construction was in progress, the city had stored for the library several hundred pounds of donated books, newspapers, and magazines in the chambers of the city council. After the opening, The Ballard News periodically listed volumes that had been donated. The library board of trustees arranged for a wagon to circulate through Ballard to make it easy for citizens to donate books. Within six weeks, 300 volumes had been collected.

East School (Ballard) teacher Blanche Dunmore (1874-1971) led a student drive to collect 500 books to start the collection. On Saturdays, she would take the trolley to the Seattle Public Library where she checked out books for a popular children's story hour in Ballard. Dunmore had organized students to sell 10 cent memberships to fund a school library collection. The students also donated $500 from their library fund to the new library.

In 1907, the building became a branch of the Seattle Public Library when Seattle annexed Ballard. After a new, larger branch was built in 1963, the building became an antiques store.

In 2003, the building was remodeled for use as a restaurant named Carnegie's.


Margaret Smith, "Ballard Branch: Eighty Years Of Service, 1904-1984," photocopy of typescript, Ballard Public Library, Vertical File, folder 1800.19; "Library Dedicated," The Ballard News, June 25, 1904, p. 3; "Library Notes," Ibid., August 6, 1904, p. 3; Seattle/Annexed Cities, Ballard, Accession 9106-03, Box 5, Folder 13, Puget Sound Regional Archives, Bellevue.

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