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  • Ellen Mirro

Ballard Carnegie Free Public Library

Ballard Carnegie Free Public Library (UofW Libraries, Special Collections)

Last year, the Ballard Historical Society let us know that they were concerned that the former Ballard Carnegie Library had been put up for sale and were concerned that the property might be redeveloped. We volunteered to prepare a City of Seattle Landmark Nomination for the building and finished late last year. We are waiting for the City to approve the Nomination before it can presented to the Seattle Landmarks Board.

Andrew Carnegie (Carnegie Public Library of Pittsburg)

The Ballard Carnegie Free Public Library was built in 1904 through funds provided by the Carnegie Library Program. Capitalist Andrew Carnegie (1835-1919) devoted much of the later part of his life as a philanthropist, primarily giving grants for the construction of libraries in the United States and around the world. His foundation granted a total of $41,478,689, resulting in the construction of 1,689 library buildings in the United States.

Ballard Carnegie Free Public Library, interior ca. 1910 (

By the late 1950s, staff at the Seattle Public Library believed that a new library was needed in Ballard, as it was one of the most heavily used branches in the system and the building could not be expanded due to property constrictions. The original library was sold to Morris Siegal for $65,000 after the library was officially closed in June 1963. Morrison had leased the main floor for an antique store in 1964. The building was purchased by Dennis E. Beals and Karoline Morrison in 1977, for $67,000.

In 1977, Morrison asked Larry E. Johnson, our principal architect, to prepare a City of Seattle Landmark Nomination. The City’s Landmarks and Preservation Board nominated the building later that year, but somehow the building’s designation hearing was not scheduled. The nomination, however, was used to prepare a National Register Nomination, which was accepted later that year 1977. The story was covered a few years ago in an online article in Historic Seattle’s Preservation Seattle:

Morrison closed her business, Pandora’s Castle in 1987, and the building and has since been used as a restaurant and now a pub, with the second floor used for professional offices.

Former Ballard Carnegie Free Public Library, 2012 (TJP)

The Nomination will be available for downloading from the Department of Neighborhoods soon.

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