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Cheboygan Historic Driving Tour
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The Carnegie Library was Cheboygan’s first official free library. It was housed at this address from October 1913 until May 1966. The initial funds, $15,000, came from a grant given by Andrew Carnegie, a steel magnate who was one of the richest Americans in history. After the library closed, the Cheboygan Board of Education occupied offices in the building along with several other small businesses. The building spent some time vacant and in more recent years is being used as a community center holding concerts, art galleries and other events.

Carnegie Library

Architecture, Neighbourhood, Property, Stairs

Carnegie Library

Flag, Architecture, Property, Real estate

Carnegie Library ca 1938

Architecture, Property, Neighbourhood, Town

Andrew Carnegie

Human, Collar, Sitting, Formal wear

In 1908 Dr. Arthur M. Gerow, the Library Board President and local entrepreneur, began corresponding with Andrew Carnegie in hopes of a library grant. The former library was housed inside a dry goods store. The store was operated by Elizabeth A. Lee and was located at 307 N. Main St. There is nothing at this location currently.

Carnegie was a Scottish born immigrant from humble beginnings with little education.  At age 13 he moved to America with his family. In his 20’s Carnegie became a railroad division superintendent who was making profitable investments in coal, iron, oil and railroad car companies. By his 30’s he was a very wealthy man. He co-found a steel company near Pittsburgh and within a few decades he amassed a steel empire. In 1901, Carnegie sold his steel company for $480 million.

As one of the worlds wealthiest men he quickly became a philanthropist, promoting the welfare of others. Carnegie’s contributions include New York City’s Carnegie Hall, Carnegie Institution for Science, and Carnegie Mellon University amongst others. But one of his most influential contributions to small town USA (and worldwide) was his grant program for public libraries.

The Cheboygan Board of Education was gifted a $15,000 grant for a public library. According to the grant stipulations the city would agree to be responsible for acquiring land for a suitable building site as well as funding the general maintenance and upkeep for the continuation of the library. The Cheboygan Telephone Company had land at the intersection of Elm, Huron and Dresser streets which was gifted to the city. This site made the library conveniently located to the newly established high school.

The communities that applied for Carnegie’s grants had to adhere to certain design requirements. At Cheboygan’s Carnegie Library, like many of Carnegie’s other grant locations, you’ll find a lamp post out front, many steps leading to the entrance and a domed sky light. These design features represented the elevation in learning and enlightenment upon entering.

The Carnegie Free Library served the community from October 1913 until May 1966. The new library, the Cheboygan Area Public Library, is located at 100 South Bailey Street, just a short distance from the Carnegie building. The Carnegie building was used as the first historical museum for 2 years from summer 1969 until summer 1971. The museum then moved into the old county jail and sheriff’s residence located at 404 S. Huron Street.

There were several different occupants after the library moved out, including the Cheboygan Board of Education, a law office, a hairdresser, a dog groomer, and a real estate office. The Carnegie Building has undergone major renovations in recent years with the assistance of many helping hands. It is currently being used as a multidimensional community center. Over 100 years later it can still be considered a place of enlightenment holding regular concerts and art galleries.

Carnegie Building; Cheboygan, Michigan - Carnegie Library Buildings on,

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“Cheboygan Carnegie Renovations Continue with Help from the Community.” 9 & 10 News, 20 Apr. 2019,

Cheboygan Carnegie. Cheboygan Carnegie.

Friday, Matthew. “Facility's Closure Just the Latest Chapter.” Cheboygan Daily Tribune - Cheboygan, MI, Cheboygan Daily Tribune - Cheboygan, MI, 13 Apr. 2012, Editors. “Andrew Carnegie.”, A&E Television Networks, 9 Nov. 2009,

Image Sources(Click to expand)

“Carnegie Building: Cheboygan MI.” Carnegie Building; Cheboygan, Michigan - Carnegie Library Buildings on,

“Cheboygan Carnegie Renovations Continue with Help from the Community.” 9 & 10 News, 20 Apr. 2019,

Markomundo. 1938 Public Library, Cheboygan, Michigan, 1 Jan. 1970, Editors. “Andrew Carnegie.”, A&E Television Networks, 9 Nov. 2009,