A “Handsome Structure”—How the Carnegie Library Came to South Haven

Updated: May 5

By Nancy Albright

“The arrival of the cut stone for the library and the subsequent proximity of the time for laying the corner stone of that handsome structure makes it fitting that a brief review should be given of the movement which led to the building of the library.”

—South Haven Daily Tribune, Friday, September 29, 1905

Many know, some might not, that the South Haven Center for the Arts resides in what was originally the Andrew Carnegie Library; the first free library in South Haven. The building was financed with a $12,500 grant bestowed upon the City of South Haven by U.S. Steel magnate Andrew Carnegie. The grant would be worth $357,142.86 today.

Securing the funding from Carnegie was a bit of a hurdle, but those involved persevered. The local chapter of the Grand Army of the Republic—who gifted the lot at the corner of Phoenix and Broadway to the city—appointed a committee of two to request funding for a Memorial Hall. Albert Earle and Reverend F. G. McHenry were enlisted to write to Mr. Carnegie with the request, but nothing came of it, so they abandoned the idea.