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Seattle, Washington

Carnegie Public Library

Always a new use for this old building. 

At one time the earliest branch of the Seattle Public Library system, the Ballard Carnegie Library dates back to 1903 when a grant from famous philanthropist Andrew Carnegie was used to finance its construction.

The original cost of a library card was 5 cents, and you couldn’t check out books on Sunday. The building remained the Ballard branch of the SPL system until 1963 when another library was built nearby.

Mr. Carnegie believed that reading should be available to everyone. During his life, Carnegie donated approximately $350 million (around $4.8 billion today), and over 3,000 Carnegie Free Libraries were opened in 47 states, Canada, and the UK.

Since its closure as a library, the Ballard Carnegie Library has been home to a variety of businesses, including an antique shop, kilt maker, and Carnegie’s Restaurant, which recently closed. The space didn’t remain vacant for long, however, as the ground floor has been taken by the Kangaroo & Kiwi Pub, an Australian / New Zealand themed public house. A tradition of finding new uses for old buildings has helped Ballard maintain its historical flavor even as land-use needs have changed.