The Carnegie Building
In the pediment above the front entranceway to the Carnegie Gallery are the words “PUBLIC LIBRARY”. This is your first clue as to the building’s historically significant past. On December 8th, 1910, the building officially opened its doors as the town’s first free public library. One of 111 Carnegie libraries built in Ontario between 1903 and 1922, it was built with the assistance of a 12,000 US$ grant from the Carnegie Foundation which was established by Scottish-American businessman and philanthropist Andrew Carnegie. The site of the building was donated by Colonel J.J. Grafton, president of Grafton & Co. Ltd. (1909 – 1939), a clothing manufacturing company retail store founded in Dundas in 1853. Additional funds were generously donated by the citizens of Dundas.
The Carnegie building remained in use as a public library until 1970, and then as the children’s library for another ten years. In 1980 it was leased to the Dundas Art and Craft Association and converted into what is now known as the Carnegie Gallery in 1981. In 2006 the building was purchased from the City of Hamilton. The building is now the permanent home of the Carnegie Gallery.
Architecturally the Carnegie building is an example of the Beaux-Arts style commonly used for Carnegie-funded buildings built in Ontario after 1905. Designed by architects Chapman & McGiffen of Toronto, its Beaux-Arts or neoclassical style is apparent in the large exterior staircase leading up to the main entrance doors, the classical columns supporting the portico, and the large symmetrically placed windows.
In 2013, the Carnegie building underwent restoration and the Atrium, an addition designed by Perkins + Will, was added.
Special architectural features of the Carnegie Gallery building have been designated under the Ontario Heritage Act (1980).
The current Dundas Public Library is a few doors away along Ogilvie Street.
top left image: Carnegie Gallery circa 2000
top right image: Dundas Public library, 1947 (Town of Dundas 100th anniversary)
below left: construction of the new Atrium, April 2013
below right: the Carnegie Gallery and the completed Atrium (2013), photo by Scott Norsworthy