PLSJC Director Alan Hall writes a weekly column discussing library and community news, history, and other interesting subjects.
The Main Library in downtown Steubenville will be receiving special recognition later this summer as it receives an Ohio Historical Marker designating it an “historic site” of Ohio.
I couldn’t be more proud of the designation of the historic building, and the fact that it is being recognized statewide!
The library marker will be the 10th in Jefferson County, and will join the more than 1,200 markers statewide that are called “history on a stick.”
The historic marker designating the library building will be unique to most other markers, as it will have a different message on each side of the marker.
One side will highlight Andrew Carnegie, the philanthropist, a man who donated his wealth to various organizations including 2,509 libraries worldwide.
The marker text discusses his life, and the fact that he wrote a pamphlet in 1889 called “Wealth” in which he states that “a responsible person of wealth should help his fellow man.”
It also states that the Carnegie Library building in Steubenville was approved in a letter dated June 30, 1899, making it one of the first such libraries in Ohio.
The text on the other side of the historic marker describes the donation of this library, including the architect; and the fact that it uses the design of the Cambridge City Hall in Massachusetts for the façade of the building.
The building was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1992.
The Ohio Historic Marker program was started in 1953 during the Sesquicentennial Celebration of Ohio.
The Commission was erecting the Ohio-shaped markers at the town limits, and felt there were other historic events that warranted designation.
That led to the 1957 beginning of the historic marker program, which today boasts 1,200 markers across the state.
All applications for an historic marker are reviewed by the Ohio Historical Society’s Local History Office for accuracy and text; and must relate to the historical significance of Ohio’s historical, natural, or physical development.
The new Library Marker is the first to honor Carnegie, the man; in addition to one of the first Carnegie Library buildings funded in Ohio.
Our marker joins the Columbus Metropolitan Library, and the Paulding Carnegie Library, as honoring the man and his library.
During the research, we found that our Carnegie shares June 30, 1899 with the Carnegie Library in East Liverpool, both buildings being approved the same day by Carnegie in his Scottish Castle.
The Sandusky Library was approved 3 months later, but opened before both Steubenville and East Liverpool as their site was already chosen.
As with his entire library donation, Andrew Carnegie required the community to obtain a site for the library building, and provide funding to operate the building.
Carnegie never provided operating funds for any of his libraries, for as he stated in his letter to Steubenville, “I don’t wish to help any people who don’t want to help themselves.”
Watch for the dedication ceremony to be held later this summer, and enjoy the new plaque and designation.