Homestead Library & Athletic Club
Founded 1897[1]
Based in
Team History
Team Colors

Carnegie Library of Homestead
CountryUnited States
Location510 East 10th Ave.,
Munhall, Pennsylvania
Branch ofCarnegie Library

The Carnegie Library of Homestead is a public library founded by Andrew Carnegie in 1896. The branch is one of 2,500 Carnegie libraries constructed worldwide, and the third one to be built in the USA.[2] In addition to the library holding over 34,000 volumes, the building also contains a 1,000 seat music hall and an athletic wing with a heated indoor pool.

History[edit | edit source]

The library was constructed on a hill in Munhall, Pennsylvania overlooking the Homestead Steel Works, the site of an 1892 labor strike where Pinkerton agents fought with union workers, resulting in 16 deaths.

Industrialist Andrew Carnegie funded the project and construction began in April 1896. While future Carnegie libraries would be philanthropic donations, the Homestead project was intended to serve the workers and families of the steel mills located nearby, many of whom lived in the community. The building was designed by Pittsburgh architects Frank Alden and Alfred Harlow and constructed by William Miller and Sons. The project cost $300,000 and consisted not only of the library, but a 1,000-seat music hall and athletic wing that included a swimming pool.[3]

In early years, the library held class for immigrants preparing for naturalization, and later for women entering the work force. The library was later supported by the USX Corporation, a successor to Carnegie's steel ventures at Homestead and elsewhere. When the Homestead Works closed in 1988, the library passed to the community of Munhall, who was experiencing economic hardships after losing its single-largest employer and tax base. However, the library remained open and operational because of several volunteers who worked to secure grant money. This continuous operation is in contrast to the USA's first Carnegie library at Braddock, Pennsylvania which has been closed periodically.[3]

Homestead Library & Athletic Club[edit | edit source]

In the early 1900s, the Homestead Library & Athletic Club football team, composed of many former star Ivy League players, was considered one of the top semi-professional teams in the country. Hall of Famer Rube Waddell played for the Club's baseball team. The amateur teams at the library also won national championships in wrestling and track & field.[4]

In the 1920s and 30s, four Olympians trained in the library's swimming pool. Anna Mae Gorman competed in the 1932 Summer Olympics at age 16; Susan Laird swam in 1932; Josephine McKim won a bronze medal in 1928 and gold in 1932; and Lenore Kight won silver in 1932 and a bronze in 1936. Gorman first swam in 1927 while on vacation. When she returned to Homestead she purchased a three-month membership at the library and pool for $1. At age 92 in 2008, Gorman still swam at the library.[5][6]

"The building has rightfully in the center as the focus 'The Library'-- Music Hall upon the right and the Working Man's Club upon the left. These three foundations from which healing waters are to flow for the Instruction, Entertainment and Happiness of the people. Recreation of the working man has an important bearing upon his character and development as his hours of work."
—Andrew Carnegie on the Homestead Library

See also[edit | edit source]

Gallery[edit | edit source]

Library in 1900  
Delivery room  
Billiard hall  
Adult reading room  
Swimming pool  

References[edit | edit source]

  1. The Coffin Corner: Vol. 9, No. 6 ((1987)). "When did they start?". Professional Football Researchers Association.
  2. The first two American ones being the Carnegie Free Library of Braddock and the Carnegie Free Library of Allegheny. Carnegie had previously provided two libraries in his native Scotland.
  3. 3.0 3.1 "CLoH History". Carnegie Library of Homestead. Retrieved February 12, 2009.
  4. Ruck, Rob Sandlot Seasons: Sports in Black Pittsburgh. University of Illinois Press, 1993. pgs. 28–29
  5. Conte, Andrew (August 3, 2008). "Homestead swimmer's 1932 Olympics star sparkles". Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. Retrieved February 12, 2009.
  6. Deitch, Charlies (July 31, 2008). "Pittsburgh Sports Tour". Pittsburgh City Paper. Retrieved February 12, 2009.

Community content is available under CC-BY-SA unless otherwise noted.