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This slide is labeled "Hunt. R.H., Carnegie Library Bldg (Now No. Amer, Royalties) Chattanooga 1904." The printed date on the photograph is March 1981. This image shows the entrance of the Carnegie Library Building located at 800 Georgia Avenue in Chattanooga.
The structure was designed by W. T. Downing and the famous Chattanooga Architect R.H. Hunt in 1903 and built in 1905. It is constructed of Bedford Indiana Limestone.
This was Chattanooga's first public Library. The Library was one of many financed by Pittsburgh Steel magnate Andrew Carnegie. Carnegie had come to America from Scotland as a young boy. As Carnegie grew up he developed a love of reading which likely helped him become the financially successful, self made man that he was.
Because of his love of reading, Carnegie embarked on a campaign to finance hundreds of public libraries throughout the United States and other parts of the world. He built his first library in his home town in Scotland in 1881. He would generally donate 2 dollars per resident. He did not ask that the Library be named for him, though most including the one in Chattanooga were, but he did ask the city to put aside money for the future maintenance of the building.
The building originally housed two separate Libraries to facilitate segregation. The library was housed at this location from 1905 until 1940 when it moved to a larger building on McCallie Avenue, and later the location at 1000 Broad street which opened in 1976 and was named the Chattanooga Bicentennial Library.
After the public library stopped functioning in this building, it housed office buildings for the YMCA and the predecessor of the "United Way" the "Community Chest". The building was also home to the YMCA youth center during the 1940's through the 1960's.
The North American Royalties Company which was founded in 1952 to invest in oil and mineral royalties purchased the building in 1969 for its Chattanooga offices. It remained there and also occupied offices in the adjacent "Dome Building" until the company filed for bankruptcy in 2002. Both buildings were sold at auction on the same day. The Carnegie building now houses the Law firm of Phil and Jennifer Davis.
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