New England Carnegies

A site that honors the libraries that Andrew Carnegie helped to fund

Mr. and Mrs. Andrew Carnegie Visit Worcester, Massachusetts

March 26, 1913

As reported on the front page of The Worcester Evening Post, Wednesday, March 26, 1913:

Donor and Wife Present at Three Branch Exercises -- Mayor’s Address

[head shot photo of Andrew Carnegie accompanied article here]

The cornerstones of the three branch library buildings, for which $75,000 was donated to the city of Worcester by Andrew Carnegie, were laid in place today in the presence of the donor, Andrew Carnegie, and his wife, who came to Worcester to attend the ceremonies.

Owing to the weather conditions, the exercises were attended by few persons, other than the city officials, headed by Mayor George M. Wright, with former Mayor James Logan, who opened the original negotiations for the Carnegie donation for the branch libraries during his administration, calling attention to the matter in his inaugural address January 3, 1910.

A silver trowel was used to lay in the cornerstones and when the ceremony was over the trowel, which was appropriately inscribed were [sic] given to Mr. Carnegie as memento of the occasion.

In the hollows of each of the cornerstones were sealed boxes of metal containing clippings from The Post and other Worcester newspapers referring to the gifts and the branch libraries; and copies of the library bulletin.

The first of the cornerstones laid was that of the branch library, being constructed on the land given for the site by Mathew J. Whittall and Alfred Thomas on Southbridge street, near Cambridge street, and to be known as the South Worcester branch library. The second cornerstone laid was that of the Quinsigamond building on the site given by the American steel & wire company near its Quinsigamond works, on Millbury street; and the last that at Greendale, on the site given by the Norton company, the Morgan spring company, the Osgood-Bradley car company, the Heald machine company, the Worcester pressed steel company, the Allen Higgins wall paper company, the Walker grinding machine company, Young brothers company and the Norton grinding company, adjoining the Greendale improvement association, all on West Boy[l]ston street.

Mayor Wright spoke briefly at the three cornerstone layings. He said:

Mr. and Mrs. Carnegie, ladies and gentlemen: --

When a man makes extraordinary success in life, whether in business, art of [sic] science, he attains a position of honor; but when a man devotes the fruits of that success toward the mental, moral and physical betterment of his brother men, he is entitled to a loftier place in the fame of the world.

One of the greatest products of this age is Andrew Carnegie. He is a living example of one of the highest types of manhood this world has ever known. Starting with only himself as capital -- yet what a wonderful capital that has proven to be -- he earned stupendous success through unflagging energy and then went about to distribute this bounty where it would do the most good for all.

Andrew Carnegie believes the greatest blessing of his wealth to be the privilege it gives him of disposing of it in the several ways his keen judgment has told him is best in the interests of all humanity.

He is striving to amalgamate the nations of the world in a union of peace. He seeks to do away with our heritage of early-day barbarism -- war. He is giving his millions toward the education of all people, and thus is working to abolish the sins of erring mankind, for as one, I believe most of the sins of this world are bred in ignorance.

The people of a nation who have recourse to the best books are fortified in the beginning, against many of the temptations of the world to which unknowingly they might fall prey.

I consider it a great honor and privilege, as mayor of the city of Worcester, to extend to you, Mr. and Mrs. Carnegie, the welcome of all the people of this municipality. We want you to know that the people of the heart of the commonwealth of Massachusetts appreciate your great generosity.

We are gathered in a section of our city where many products are made by skilled hands, where men and women work through the days for their support and the support of their families, where they, too, have time as well to seek diversion and knowledge.

The people of Worcester are a reading people. They keep closely in touch with the affairs of the world today and they seek to learn from the accomplishments of the past what they may best do toward the good of all today and on the morrow.

Mr. Carnegie, on this site is being built what will be known as the South Worcester branch. The land was given by Mr. Matthew J. Whittall and Mr. Alfred Thomas, leaders in the manufacturing enterprises of our city.

This section of Worcester is thickly populated. These homes that you see all about us are dwelling places of some of the highest types of citizens, of which we may boast. They are a people who gladly give a full measure of work to their employers, and employers who cooperate with their employes [sic] toward mutual benefit and satisfaction.

South Worcester appreciates what you have done, Mr. Carnegie. I am glad to be the spokesman of the people of this busy section of our city and to say that as the years roll on your name will be revered and that even after all of us have given way and a new generation of sons and daughters of Worcester take up the work we lay down, this library, so freely given by you will stand and dispense its rich rewards, and that the thousands who will receive its benefits will give honor to your name.”

At Quinsigamond the mayor said:

The site upon which we now stand was given to the city by the American steel & wire company. The directors of the company realized, as soon as they learned of Mr. Carnegie’s gift, that they had an opportunity of helping this cause, and they gladly took advantage of it. They realize that this library, the Quinsigamond branch, will afford for the hundreds of men and women who do their work, and for the hundreds more that comprise their families, a treasury of knowledge from which they may draw in the years that are to come.

The people of Quinsigamond appreciate this splendid gift, and they will prove with the years that this investment will be a paying one and that the seed that is sown today will not fall on barren ground.”

Mayor Wright at the Greendale branch, said:

Mr. and Mrs. Carnegie, ladies and gentlemen:

In completing the happy work of laying the corner-stones of the three Carnegie branch libraries, we come to one of the most beautiful sections of our city which we call Greendale. This is a section of successful manufacturing on a large scale, and of comfortable homes.

The Greendale manufacturers are identified in this library through the gift of this land. It was given by the Norton company, Morgan spring company, Osgood Bradley car company, the Heald machine company, Allen-Higgins wall paper company, Walker grinder company, Young brothers and Norton grinding company.

Mr. Carnegie, we rejoice that in these three branch libraries, whose cornerstones we lay today, through you, we have a working basis for better citizenship and more enlightenment in the every-day affairs of life that are to come. I want to reiterate the gratitude of Worcester for this gift. Our appreciation, in the official way, has been expressed by the city council and by the directors of our Free public library.

The history of this enterprise shows that Mayor James Logan called Mr. Carnegie’s attention to Worcester’s need of branches to our public library. The result was that Mr. Carnegie furnished $75,000 for this purpose. The city of Worcester has pledged itself to maintain these libraries, and I believe this will be one of the most pleasant duties the city will have to perform.

As Mr. Logan said, in his message to the city council, January 3, 1910, ‘a library is more than a simple store-house for books. It is one of the creative agencies of civilization. Its function is to awaken interest and inform the seeker after knowledge.’

Our city’s guests, whose generosity is felt the world over, have provided the money to build these libraries and private citizens of Worcester have provided the sites. With the thanks of all the people of Worcester, on behalf of them, I accept these splendid gifts, the realization of which will soon be ours.”

The arrangements for the cornerstone laying exercises were in charge of Prof. Zelotes W. Coombs, chairman of the board of directors of the free public library.

The wives of Mayor Wright and former Mayor Logan, Librarian Robert K. Shaw and Miss Ellen W. Coombs, acted as escort to Mrs. Carnegie and accompanied her on the short tour of the city and entertained her at lunch.

The short stay of Mr. Carnegie in Worcester, his plans calling for his leaving at 5 o’clock, did not permit of any extended public greeting, and only a brief inspection of the public library, a visit to City hall and luncheon in the Worcester club, in the company of the city officials, the library officials and former Mayor Logan, was attempted.


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