The hammering has stopped, the dust has settled and the “closed for renovation” signs have come down in Edmonds’ historic Carnegie Library, home of the Edmonds Historical Museum. Timed to coincide with the annual return of the museum-sponsored Spring Garden Market, the museum reopens to the public Saturday, May 3 in a restored space that captures the former glory of this architectural gem.
Museum officials provided a sneak peak of the new facility during a reception for dignitaries, supporters and the media on Friday night.
Mayor Dave Earling noted during his brief remarks that when the library first opened in 1910, the city was in a time of rapid growth, mainly fueled by bustling shingle and lumber mills, leaving the city in a crunch for office space. “So the Mayor’s office, City Council, other city offices, and even the police department and jail moved into the basement of the new library,” he noted.
Constructed in 1910, Edmonds’ Carnegie Library was one of more than 2,500 built between 1883 and 1929 with money donated by Scottish-American businessman and philanthropist Andrew Carnegie. Edmonds’ library was built along classic Georgian lines, with the exterior and interior reflecting the symmetry and openness typical of this style.
But over the years the spacious interior lost much of its original character.
The paint was barely dry in 1910 when the City of Edmonds reconfigured the entire first level to accommodate city offices. In subsequent years the offices expanded to the main floor, more walls were built, and the open feel of the interior was lost.
“We tore down walls, restored woodwork and floors, and brought back the original character of the building,” said Museum Director Tarin Erickson, the driving force behind the project. “But we did keep and restore one of the basement jail cells to help reflect the history of the building and its place in the early days of Edmonds. Since it opened last year, it’s become one of our most popular attractions. Visitors just love sitting in the jail cell where they can even read some old graffiti left by the inmates!”
Edmonds City Council President Diane Buckshnis praised “the tireless work of the volunteers of the board of the Edmonds/Snohomish County Historical Society. These remarkable people planned the project, raised the money without even asking for funding from our City’s coffers and then once the money was in place, the hardhats and tool belts came out as did the hammers, crowbars, and paintbrushes — and all worked patiently to uncover the original glory that was hidden in this building.”
As before, museum visitors will see an ever-changing series of exhibits showcasing the evolution of Edmonds from its beginnings as town founder George Brackett’s logging camp to its present place as an emerging regional center of arts and culture. Not to be missed are the wide range of artifacts, photos, dioramas and interpretive materials covering Edmonds’ time as an early industrial powerhouse, when an unbroken line of shingle mills belched smoke and sawdust 24 hours a day and shipped building supplies to West Coast ports from Alaska to California. Other highlights include furniture and artifacts from early settlers’ homes, a restored schoolroom, and early 20th century photos of vintage cars lined up for miles to board ferries to Kingston, Port Townsend and other Olympic Peninsula locations.
“The timing is great for our reopening,” said Erickson. “With the museum-sponsored Garden Market kicking off the same day, you can check out the restored Carnegie Library building, learn about local history, and bring home some first-of-the-season produce all at the same time.”
The Museum and market will be open between 9 a.m. and 2 p.m. this Saturday, May 3. The Museum is open year-round between 1 and 4 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday. Admission is $5 for adults, and $2 for students.
The Edmonds Historical Museum sponsors two Farmers’ Markets during the spring and summer months. The Spring Garden Market operates every Saturday in May and June between 9 and 2 p.m. in the Public Safety Building parking lot at Fifth and Bell. The expanded Summer Market, now in its 20th season, runs Saturdays from June until October along Fifth Avenue North and Bell Street. Both markets are directly adjacent to the Museum.