Charlotte Library, 1903
The Carnegie Library on Tryon Street
The Brevard Street Library opened as an independent entity in 1905 at the corner of Brevard and East 2nd St. It became a branch of the system in 1929 and operated until 1961.
Program from a 1904 Library benefit concert
Entrance and circulation area of the Carnegie Library
The Children's Room of the Charlotte Public Library, 1917.
Children's Annex was added in 1915. This photo was taken in the 1940s.
1940 service desk
Staff members moving Library materials from the Carnegie Library to a temporary space prior to the 1956 construction
View during construction of the 1956 Library
Library Director Hoyt Galvin
Public Library of Charlotte and Mecklenburg County, 1956. The opening of this building marked another turning point for the Library - full integration of all branches.
Interior of Main Library in 1956
Colorized image of 1956 Library
View during construction of 1989 expansion, facing Sixth Street.
Crowds on opening day for the current Main Library, 1989
1989 Expansion

A library has stood on this corner since 1903, when Charlotte’s first public library was funded with a $25,000 donation from Andrew Carnegie. The original charter also provided for the independently-run Brevard Street Library, North Carolina’s first public library for the city’s Black population during a time of segregation. In 1915 Carnegie made a second gift, adding a children’s department, meeting rooms and a theater to the Tryon Street location.

Davidson resident Lois McConnell McCallum James is 100 years old. She remembers that library from her childhood. She was let off at the steps of the Carnegie Library on Tryon Street while her father delivered butter and buttermilk to the hotels. Her favorite books were a series called The Twins, about siblings who travelled the world. She’d read about their adventures from her family’s farm, where a good story often distracted her from her cow-sitting duties.

The original Carnegie Library was replaced in 1956 with a larger building hailed at the time as a “modern architectural gem” and nine branch locations to serve the growing city. A three-story addition opened in 1989 with the first computerized catalog, providing the public with online access to the system’s collection. This is the building you see today.

For 118 years, a Library on the corner of 6th and Tryon has been a constant, and the next iteration of Main Library will serve generations to come in the place that started it all, where Lois McConnell McCallum James got her start as a lifelong reader.

As Lois says, long live the Library!

To hear the rest of the tour, reserve your spot today!

This audio tour was created using resources from your Library’s Robinson-Spangler Carolina Room.