Syracuse University Magazine

carnegie_1907.jpgCarnegie Library 1907

Return to Original Splendor

Carnegie Library was one of the most beautiful buildings on campus in the early 1900s, but the years have taken a toll on this architectural gem. Now a major effort is under way to restore Carnegie to its original splendor, with an ambitious five- to six-year renovation project launched in 2011. “Carnegie is one of the buildings on the University’s historic district registered with the National Register of Historic Places,” says Eric Beattie, director of design and construction. “The renovation is part of a cyclical plan to rejuvenate campus buildings and keep them in good condition.”

The renovation of Carnegie is a major undertaking, with planned spending in excess of $1 million over the course of the project. To date, the grand reading room has been refurbished with new parquet flooring, and the scagliola (ornamental plaster) in the reading room and lobby has been cleaned and restored to its former beauty. In addition, the long library tables have been refinished, new lighting fixtures installed, and the concrete floors polished. On the first floor, two new classrooms have been built, and on the third floor, the windows overlooking the reading room have been replaced with permanent glass railings.

Located on the Quad between Archbold Gym and Bowne Hall, Carnegie Library was made possible with a $150,000 gift from philanthropist Andrew Carnegie, who supported the establishment of public, academic, and school libraries throughout the United States, Britain, Canada, and other English-speaking countries. Completed in 1907, Carnegie served as SU’s main library for more than 60 years until Bird Library opened in 1972. Since then, the historic building has housed the engineering, life sciences, chemistry, and mathematics libraries, as well as the Department of Mathematics.

Carnegie Library has continued to operate throughout the multi­year renovation project. However, due to safety concerns, it was closed for the summer while a larger elevator was installed and ramps were added to improve accessibility at the two entrance doors flanking the exterior steps that face the Quad. Looking ahead, plans include bathroom upgrades and electrical, heating, and ventilation system improvements, and ensuring that all fire and safety codes are met. A highlight of the renovation project was the reinstallation of the statue of Diana the Huntress in Carnegie’s main lobby. The statue, created by sculptor Anna Hyatt Huntington and donated to SU in 1934, was moved from Carnegie Library to Bird Library years ago, says Pamela McLaughlin, director of communications and external relations for Syracuse University Library. “Now that Diana has been returned to her original home, Carnegie has been restored to its original glory.” —Christine Yackel