Carnegie (1835-1910), the steel magnate who was establishing free libraries thoughout the country, took his philanthropy to Petaluma just after the
turn of the century. The cost of the proposed library was $16,000, of which
Carnegie paid $12,000.
extraordinary building is constructed of white Alameda brick and sandstone in the
Neo-Classical Revival style. It was designed by famed architect and Petaluman
Brainerd Jones. The interior of the building features an
elaborate central dome, which is the largest free-standing dome of
leaded glass in California.
Minor damage during the 1906 San
Francisco earthquake necessitated repairs to the
chimney top, metal ceiling, and readjustment of the stone columns.
library bond elections were held in the early 1960s to build a replacement
library on the lawn of the newly built City Hall. Twice the election went down
to defeat before the city realized the voters would never approve a new library
that would allow for tearing down the old. With a guarantee the old Carnegie
Library would continue to stand, the third bond election for the new library
finally passed and it was built in 1976.
viewing the magnificent old library, take a moment to consider there was a time
when this building was thought to be obsolete. To the more enlightened minds of
today, such a thought is inconceivable.
building now serves as the PetalumaHistoricMuseum
and Library. The Museum maintains a research library which fulfills the deed
restriction that the property always be used as a library. Much to the benefit
of future generations, this restriction was specified by Mrs. A.A. Atwater, who
generously donated the property to the City of Petaluma for the specific purpose of building
the Carnegie Library.