Mr. Carnegie’s Grand Tour of Washington

Mr. Carnegie’s Grand Tour of Washington

Shontz Shuler statue, Ritzville Public Library Statue of Shontz Shuler, building contractor, outside the
Ritzville Public Library (a Carnegie library, built 1907).

From the desk of Evan Robb

This weekend marks the start of Mr. Carnegie’s Grand Tour of Washington, an annual automobile-based passport tour of 20 (out of 33 surviving) Carnegie libraries throughout Washington State.   Many of these original buildings continue to house libraries and related cultural institutions like museums; others, like Carnegie’s Restaurant in Seattle, have been completely re-purposed.  All are characterized by unique design and formal-yet-welcoming architecture, standing as reminders of an important era for American public libraries.

Visitors will be able to pick up “passports” at participating locations beginning Sunday, May 24th, and have them stamped during their visit.  If they get a minimum of three stamps by December 31, 2009, they will be eligible to enter a drawing for a prize giveaway: gift certificates featuring goods and services of Washington-based companies.

Clark County Historical MuseumVancouver, WA’s public library, circa 1909.
Now the Clark County Historical Museum.

Conceived by the Clark County Historical Museum (Vancouver, WA) as a way to celebrate the 100-year-birthday of its building (a 1909 Carnegie library), the Grand Tour developed into an initiative of the newly-established Carnegie Library Consortium of Washington, whose mission is to “identify surviving Carnegie Libraries in Washington State and promote public awareness and preservation around the world.”  The Consortium has put together a slideshow about Andrew Carnegie which will be on display at participating locations, as well as a children’s storybook/coloring book featuring “Andy the Library Explorer” as he delves into the history of Carnegie libraries.

The Grand Tour was also developed with local economic stimulus in mind.  According to Susan Tissot, executive director of the CCHM, “Mr. Carnegie’s Grand Tour of Washington is an economic development tool that promotes historic sites and local restaurants, shops and hotels within the state of Washington at a time when many people are cutting back on spending and recreational travel.  The tour is an effective form of sustainable development and an old-fashioned American road trip that is a fun way to learn about your state and its history without breaking the family bank account.”


Carnegie cities participating in the Grand Tour include:

Auburn, Anacortes, Burlington, Edmonds, Goldendale, Pasco, Port Angeles, Port Townsend, Ritzville, Tacoma, Snohomish, Seattle (six sites), Spokane, Vancouver, and Walla Walla.

Call Lisa Christopher, 360-993-5679, or check the CCHM’s website,, after the May 24 launch, for more information on Mr. Carnegie’s Grand Tour of Washington.

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3 thoughts on “Mr. Carnegie’s Grand Tour of Washington

  1. After you visit the old Carnegie building in Burlington, go down the street to the new Burlington Public Library where you will find a lovely old portrait of Andrew that was brought to the new building from the old library. It won’t get you a stamp on your passport, but it’s worth a bit of chocolate from the library director’s office!

    Maggie Buckholz, Library Director

  2. What a good idea, Maggie! There’s always room for chocolate. A lot of Carnegie libraries featured a portrait of Andrew. I know we have one at the Clark County Historical Museum,in Vancouver, Wa.
    I hope to look you up later this year and take you up on your kind offer of chocolate when I get a chance to visit Washington’s other Carnegie libraries.

  3. Wonderful idea! Thank you so much for doing this. I live in Edmonds and the Carnegie Library there houses the museum right in the center of town. Mr. Carnegie left such a legacy! In historic Snohomish they have a capital campaign in full swing to renovate their library, so this was a perfect time to highlight their efforts.

    Kudos to whomever arranged this program!

    Tracy Tallman, Commissioner Snohomish County Historic Preservation Commission

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