Ballard Carnegie Library
Ballard Carnegie Library
Ballard Carnegie Library, circa 1911.
|Location||2026 NW Market Street
Ballard, Seattle, Washington
|Nearest city||Seattle, Washington|
|MPS||Carnegie Libraries of Washington TR (AD)|
|NRHP Reference #||79002535|
|Added to NRHP||June 15, 1979|
The Ballard Carnegie Library, also known until 1963 as the Seattle Public Library – Ballard Branch, is a historic library in the Ballard neighborhood in Seattle, Washington. The library was predated by a freeholders' library in the 1860s, which eventually gave way to a reading room that was organized and funded by a women's' group in 1901. With a grant for $15,000, among other funds, a new library for the then independent City of Ballard was created as a Carnegie library. The building, located at 2026 N.W. Market Street in downtown Ballard, opened to the public on June 24, 1904. Notable as the first major branch of the Seattle public library system, after Seattle annexed the City of Ballard into itself in 1907, and for employing one of the first African American librarians in Seattle, the Ballard Carnegie Library was in service until 1963, when a newer and more modern facility replaced it. After its sale, the old library building housed a variety of private commercial enterprises, including an antique shop, a restaurant and a kilt manufacturer.
In the late 1860s, when Ballard was a new settlement along the edge of Salmon Bay, a homesteader named Ira Wilcox Utter helped create a freeholders' library. Later, in 1901, the Women's Christian Temperance Union of Ballard began raising money with fairs and socials for a new reading room on Ballard Avenue; it moved and expanded several times to different locations. Having decided to build a proper library, the Ballard City Council established a library board in 1903 and the city applied to the philanthropist Andrew Carnegie for a library grant to help underwrite the costs of construction of a new library. The library was built on a lot of 100 feet (30.5 m) square, which was purchased for $2,100 raised by local businesses and citizens, supported by the earlier fundraising and book collections of the women's union, and a $15,000 grant from Carnegie. When construction was completed, the building included features such as a 500-seat auditorium and a men's smoking room, which was later converted into a reading room. Part of the construction work was executed by a chain gang.
Initially, the library had a cache of books waiting for the completion and grand opening that was provided by local residents and schools, as Carnegie's gift for the construction did not cover the initial costs of new books. A call was also put out for citizens to donate books to the new facility to expand the collection. In 1907, the Seattle Public Library took control of the Carnegie library, when Ballard was annexed by the neighboring City of Seattle government. Early Scandinavian immigrants to Ballard and the Pacific Northwest in particular made use of the new facility; Ballard as an area has a strong historical presence of Scandinavian people. Early in the library's existence, it had a turnstile at the entrance to its book stacks, to count the number of book borrowers that passed through. With the arrival of World War I, the Carnegie Library became home to various community activities, such as dispensing information on the war, and also provided Red Cross and English language classes. In 1942, during World War II, one of the first African American librarians in Seattle, Lucille Smith, was assigned to the Carnegie library.
In 1956, Seattle voters approved a municipal bond to replace what was by then considered the "inadequate and impractical" library. The Ballard Carnegie Library eventually was shut in 1963, when a new, larger public library was built in the area, and the Carnegie building became an antique store. One of the cited reasons for the closure and sale of the library building were expert claims that the building would never survive an earthquake (of which Seattle had numerous instances, both before and after 1963). The building has, in fact, survived several quakes since 1963.
The building today
The building is now owned by Karoline Morrison and her husband, Dennis Beals; As of April 2011, they are attempting to sell it, with an asking price of $3 million. They have expressed a hope of finding a buyer who will continue to preserve the building. The former library was home to Carnegie's, a French restaurant from 2003 until 2010.
As of April 2010, the building is home to Ström and Ström Consulting, providing legal and marketing services to mental health professionals. As of March 2011, the building is also home to Root. Integrative Health, a holistic wellness center offering massage therapy, chiropractic, nutrition, mental health counseling, acupuncture, naturopathic medicine, and creative writing services. The area around Market Street in Ballard, where the library building is located, is one of the areas of Seattle that is quickly rising in land value, and has been compared to Belltown, a growing Seattle neighborhood that is affected by gentrification. As the Carnegie Library building is without the City of Seattle's "City landmark status" despite its NRHP status, the structure is at risk from new development.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Ballard Carnegie Library.|
- HistoryLink.org, "Carnegie Free Library in Ballard opens on June 24, 1904.". Retrieved October 9, 2007.
- Susan Paynter, Seattle P.I. "Earthquake stirs a sense of appreciation". March 5, 2001. Retrieved October 10, 2007.
- Larry E. Johnson, AIA, The Johnson Partnership, Preservation Seattle, "My Favorite Seattle Landmarks". Retrieved October 10, 2007.
- National Register of Historic Places.com, "WASHINGTON (WA), King County". Retrieved October 9, 2007.
- HistoryLink.org, "Ballard Branch, The Seattle Public Library.". Retrieved October 10, 2007.
- Seattle.gov Department of Neighborhoods, "Summary for 2026 NW Market ST NW / Parcel ID 276700960 / Inv # BA003". Retrieved October 9, 2007.
- The Library Journal, "The Library Journal", October, 1907, Page 466. Retrieved October 10, 2007.
- Kathy Mulady, Seattle P.I., "West Seattle Library closing -- but just until fall", December 31, 2002. Retrieved October 10, 2007.
- Todd Bishop, Seattle P.I. "New shops line Market Street in Ballard". December 13, 2002. Retrieved October 10, 2007.
- Nancy Chaney, Next chapter for a landmark library building in Ballard, Seattle Times, 1 April 2011. Retrieved 6 April 2011.
- Lawrence Kreisman, Pacific Northwest Magazine, "Saving Ourselves". January 14, 2007. Retrieved October 9, 2007.