Pasco dedicates its Carnegie Library on June 30, 1911.

  • By Elizabeth Gibson
  • Posted 9/13/2005
  • HistoryLink.org Essay 7465
On June 30, 1911, after many months of waiting, Pasco city officials host a dedication ceremony to open the new Carnegie library. The library is made possible by a generous donation from philanthropist Andrew Carnegie (1835-1919). About 200 people in attendance listen to speeches and a music program. The library opens with 1,270 books available for patrons' use.

Planning for Reading

Plans for a library in Pasco began back on February 17, 1910, when the Pasco City Council agreed to purchase land for the library. The land cost $1,000, paid to a Walla Walla resident. A few months later, on April 5, 1910, the city council passed Ordinance 92, which adopted  Carnegie Public Library as the official name of the library. This law stipulated that the mayor appoint a five-member library board. The first board members were Maggie Page, Alice D. Jahnke, Bernice Horrigan, Walter T. Ricks, and Patrick Lenard. 

Construction got under way on the two-story Spanish-style building with a terra cotta roof. The first floor would serve as the main part of the library for storing and displaying books, magazines, and newspapers. The basement would be used for community activities. The library building cost $9,498 and additional equipment cost $2,500.

Patrons who attended the dedication festivities on June 30 were impressed by the general arrangement of the library and by the selection of books available for checkout. The board had included a large number of children's books for the city's younger readers. Librarian May Lawler selected a number of periodical subscriptions for use by library patrons. As a special bonus, Pasco Mayor William P. Gray (1845-1929) loaned his collection of Indian curios to be displayed in the library.

Opening the Library

The formal ceremony began about 8:30 p.m. in the basement meeting room. A variety of musical performances entertained the visitors. Clara Page played a piano solo. Anna Shannon and Miss Pelham both sang songs. Josephine Kouba followed with another piano solo. Mrs. V. B. Cox, Mrs. Watkins, and Miss Christian, accompanied on the piano by Mrs. L. C. Kidd, gave the final performance of the evening.

After the entertainment, Mayor William Gray, master of ceremonies, made a few remarks. He spoke about the growth of Pasco that made it possible to acquire the fine library. He declared the library officially open. Walter T. Ricks, president of the Library Board, thanked the old city council for making the library possible and the present city council for generous provisions. He paid tribute to Andrew Carnegie who had donated the initial $10,000. He acknowledged B. B. Horrigan, credited with making the first contact with Carnegie. 

Changing Times

The library served Pasco for many years. In 1960, voters approved a $325,000 bond to build a new library, which opened on Hopkins Street in April 1962. B. B. Horrigan, by then a judge, and retired librarian Edna Linbarger, dedicated the new library. 

The old Carnegie library was used for a variety of businesses until the Franklin County Historical Society restored it as a museum. It is still in use as a museum today.


Sources: Walter A. Oberst, "Carnegie Library Building to House Museum," Franklin Flyer (Franklin County Historical Society Newsletter), Vol. 12, No. 4 (January 1980); "Public Library Formally Opened," Pasco Express, July 1, 1911, p. 1.

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