Cambria Public Library Building - Johnstown, PA
Posted by: sherpes
N 40° 19.686 W 078° 55.236
17T E 676650 N 4466249
Quick Description: Now the site of the Johnstown Flood Museum
Location: Pennsylvania, United States
Date Posted: 9/2/2008 11:44:40 AM
Waymark Code: WM4K8J
"If the Association will allow me to pay the cost of this restoration, I shall be very grateful to it indeed." Andrew Carnegie in a November 28, 1889, letter to the Cambria Library Association. The Johnstown Flood Museum is located in a building with an important flood connection - it is the former Cambria Library, built after the flood to replace the earlier library pictured at right, using funds donated by steel magnate Andrew Carnegie. Carnegie was a member of the South Fork Fishing & Hunting Club, which owned the dam that burst on May 31, 1889, causing the flood. He donated the money to build the museum after visiting Johnstown in late 1889 to survey flood damage, but it's unlikely he felt any personal responsibility for the flood. Instead, the library became one of the very first of more than 2,500 Carnegie libraries in the world today.
The rebuilt library, pictured below, was located on the same site as the old one, at the corner of Washington and Walnut Streets. The Cambria Iron Company donated an adjacent tract of land, where the telegraph office had stood before the flood, to increase the library's lot. Addison Hutton of Philadelphia, architect for the $55,000 project, built the French Gothic style structure. The foundation of the building consists of 20 massive stone piers of circular section, 5 to 7 feet in diameter. The woodwork throughout the building is select Pennsylvania pine, finished in its natural color. The stairway alcoves on the first floor are laid with white marble tiles, skirted in black marble. The third story features dormers and the building has eight massive chimneys, two on each side.
The first floor of the new library featured lecture rooms, with folding opera chair seating for 300. The second floor housed the "library proper" and two "pleasant rooms," used for class work and special reading rooms. The third floor featured an elegant gymnasium, with a padded running track, which forms a mezzanine around the uppermost part of the building. During the 1892 dedication and official opening of the Carnegie Library, one guest said: "We find ourselves comfortably seated in a building that is substantial in its material, tasteful in its appointments, convenient to its arrangements, fair in its proportions, classic in its design and beautiful in its architecture." The building functioned as a library until it was reopened as the Johnstown Flood Museum in 1973, and it is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
304 Washington St.
Johnstown , PA United States
County / Borough / Parish: Cambria
Year listed: 1972
Historic (Areas of) Significance: Architecture/Engineering
Periods of significance: 1875-1899
Historic function: Education
Current function: Museum
Season start / Season finish: From: 1/1/2008 To: 12/31/2008
Hours of operation: From: 9:00 AM To: 5:00 PM
Primary Web Site: [Web Link]
Privately owned?: Not Listed
Secondary Website 1: Not listed
Secondary Website 2: Not listed
National Historic Landmark Link: Not listed
Please give the date and brief account of your visit. Include any additional observations or information that you may have, particularly about the current condition of the site. Additional photos are highly encouraged, but not mandatory.