Carnegie Museum added to California historic landmarks

By: Megan Wood The Press Tribune
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Roseville’s Carnegie Museum has been added to the National Registry of Historic Places joining iconic landmarks like Alcatraz Island and Hearst Castle Built in 1912, The Carnegie Library was Roseville’s first and only library until 1982, when the Downtown Library was constructed and the Carnegie Library was rededicated as a museum to preserve Roseville’s history. “When Roseville was developing, it was mainly a railroad town filled with single men, saloons, bars and brothels,” said Roseville Archivist, Lola Aguilar. “It was a real rough and tumble town.” A $10,000 grant from steel magnate Andrew Carnegie provided most of the funds to build the library, which was intended to bring culture to the growing town, Aguilar said. The other $2,000 for building and materials was raised by the Roseville community. “This has been an important part of Roseville’s history,” Aguilar said. “There needed to be a way to make sure it would always be there.” Last year, Aguilar volunteered to do the research and paperwork required to nominate the Carnegie Museum to be added as one of California’s historic landmarks. On the city’s centennial birthday last April, Carnegie Curator Phoebe Astill got word that the building had been added. “It was an amazing feeling and it means that the building will always be here,” Astill said. Since its rededication in 1982 as a museum, The Roseville Historical Society has taken on maintaining and restoring the building as well as preserving and collecting Roseville’s memorabilia stored there. “People come in looking for old photos of their ancestors and tell me stories about how they used to come here to do research for their school assignments when it was a library,” said Carnegie Museum volunteer Ken Fisher. Pillars of the Roseville community have also donated legal documents, letters, photos and papers to keep a record of the “movers and shakers” in the city as it grew. “It’s a way to keep a legacy alive,” Fisher said. “There’s a link to the past so it’s not forgotten, what they contributed to the community and what this city meant to them.” Among the century-old artifacts is the Fiddyment family surrey and velvet blanket used to keep away the chills during winter or evening rides, half-full bottles of barbershop hair tonics and a 1950s Dumont entertainment center complete with TV set, radio, record player and reel-to-reel recorder. The museum also has modern objects including a collection of early model cell phones. “Those are weird,” said Aidan Garcia who was taken aback by the brick-sized bulky cell phones on display at the museum. “Those don’t look anything like my cell phone.” Garcia and his mom, Connie Sabin, stopped in to check out the museum after living in Roseville for several years. “We’ve walked or driven by but haven’t ever come in to see what it was all about,” Sabin said. “There’s some really interesting stuff to look at.” Sabin and Garcia admired the miniature model of historic downtown Roseville and the rail yard in the Judah Wing of the museum and peered at the other artifacts that line the shelves, counters and even hang from the ceiling. “It’s so odd to see some of the things that my mom has in a museum,” Sabin said, while viewing antique house wares. “I see some of these things every day, I would never have thought to think of them as historic necessarily.” Later this year a new bronze plaque identifying the building as a historic landmark will be added to the library’s façade. “I’m waiting for the weather to turn, but we’ll have a ceremony and it will be nice to have it up,” Astill said. “People tend to place importance and interest in historic places, I’m thrilled that the library is now one of those places.”