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One of Eureka's great cultural gathering spots isn't just an old Carnegie Library building (there around 144 built in the early 1900's in California through Andrew Carnegie grants, and 1,689 built in the U.S.) And it isn't just an art gallery and museum. It is a beautiful place providing enjoyment, educational enhancement, and entertainment for children and adults for over 100 years. Opened as a library in 1904, the graceful structure once neared demolition and faced the prospects of a wrecking ball.


It would take over $1 million to renovate and bring the building up to current structural standards. The residents of Eureka and city planners could easily decide to tear it down and go for the quick cash that a new building project would offer. In 1996 the Humboldt Arts Council accepted an offer from the City of Eureka to undertake the effort to save the historic 1904 Carnegie Library building, and celebrated a January 1, 2000 re-opening as an art museum after spending $1.5, and renaming the facility. Humboldt Arts Council dedicated the Morris Graves Museum to Morris Cole Graves, an American expressionist painter who founded the Northwest School.  He passed away in nearby Loleta in 2001, leaving an important collection of his works to the museum.


Old Carnegie Library Building 636 F Street Eureka, CA 95501 Public library from 1904-1972 architectural style: Classical Revival (Type B) architect: Evans and Tarver From the northwest corner of Seventh and F streets in downtown Eureka, the historic Classical Revival Old Carnegie Library faces the equally historic Tudor style Eureka Inn at the southeast corner; both are listed on the National Register.


The Carnegie presents a striking appearance, its red brick exterior contrasted with yellow tapered fans above the windows and Mad River granite lintels and sills. Eureka was the first city to finance a public library under California's 1878 Rogers Act. Earlier Eureka libraries dating from 1859 had lapsed and revived, but even after city support was obtained the library was housed in rented quarters. In 1901 Carnegie funding was sought, and an offer of $20,000 was received. Prominent local architects Knowles Evans and B.C. Tarver won an architectural competition; Ambrose Foster was the contractor. When building costs exceeded the grant an additional $10,000 was unsuccessfully sought from Carnegie. Since 1972 several library administration and historical uses have shared the space, still impressive with the colorful tiled floor of the portico extending to the interior where two story solid redwood columns circle the rotunda. The dome has been removed; a skylight remains. The building was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1986. Eureka's newly restored Carnegie library building combines architecture and art in the Morris Graves Museum of Art. Opened January 1, 2000, the building is owned and operated by local arts agency Humboldt Arts Council and now offers one of the finest exhibition spaces available on the West Coast. The Eureka landmark houses seven premier galleries, including a courtyard sculpture garden; a performance rotunda for music, dance and literary arts; a young artist's academy; and a community arts resource center.



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