The Carnegie Building was designed by Syracuse architect James A. Randall as Syracuse’s first public library.  It housed 40,000 volumes.  The project was made possible by a $200,000 donation from Andrew Carnegie. 

The building is constructed of Indiana limestone and Italian marble.  The round-arched entrance is flanked by colossal columns.  The sculptured medallions and heavy keystones above the window are typical features of the Beaux Arts style.

Article from the Evening Herald

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In 1901 Andrew Carnegie offered the funds for a new library to be built, and furnished, in the City of Syracuse. 

The old library building which was replaced by the Carnegie Building

The spot on Columbus Circle, formally occupied by the Putnam School was chosen as the location.  The new building also included space for the Syracuse Museum of Arts and featured a sound absorbing floor, a telephone intercom system, an elevator for books and other modern “mechanical contrivances.” 

Arts and crafts exhibit in the Museum of Fine Arts located within the Carnegie Building

Flower and garden exhibit in the Museum of Fine Arts located within the Carnegie Building

Rug Exhibition in the Museum  of Fine Arts located within the Carnegie Building

One of the more interesting features was the three floors of shelving separated by glass floors.  Unfortunately, upon completion of the state of the art building, when the trustees approached Carnegie for additional funds for books, they were told that the initial contribution of $200,000 was to include construction costs and furnishings such as books and other reference materials.  This caused some acrimony for the City when it was made responsible for funding the purchase of those items and for Carnegie, himself, who was reportedly so incensed that he refused to attend the opening.  The art museum moved out due to space constraints in the early 1900s.  In 1988, the central library was moved to its present location in the Galleries on S. Salina Street. 

The interior of the Carnegie Building

The Carnegie Library’s main desk

The Carnegie Library’s industrial room