Carnegie Library Project

Legacy of Andrew Carnegie

The State of Indiana benefited greatly from Andrew Carnegie’s philanthropy. Indiana constructed 164 Carnegie libraries in 155 communities, more than any other state.  The East Chicago Library built in 1913 at the corner of 136th Street and Grapevine Avenue now Grand Boulevard were created through an endowment from steel magnate Andrew Carnegie.

Past Plans

Plans to reclaim the structure (listed in the National Register of Historic Places, but unused since 1983) began in 2005 with the formation of the nonprofit Carnegie Performing Arts Association to partner with the city on the estimated $4 million renovation project.

The United States Department of the Interior National Park Service  provided the City of East Chicago with the “Save America’s Treasures” Grant which included the Indiana Harbor Public Library, constructed in the Arts and Crafts style in 1913 with a 1931 addition in three distinct parts; a central reading room, and east reading room the size of the original library and a library operations addition. In a Statement of Significance, the Indiana Harbor Library is eligible for the National Register under Criterion A for its association with East Chicago’s social and educational development, and Criterion C as an excellent example of a Carnegie funded library designed in the Arts and Crafts architectural style. 

Current State

The library maintains a high level of integrity and was rated Notable in the Lake County Interim Report. The original library passed ownership for a short time which was then its woodwork was removed. It had been vacant for more than twenty years and is presently owned by the City of East Chicago Department of Redevelopment. While the library’s integrity was compromised from lack of maintenance and the harvest of its interior woodwork, its remaining historical fabric is the reason this project has become significant to the City of East Chicago.

The library is located at:
3616 Elm Street
East Chicago, IN, 46312

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