City reopens historic library

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People packed the Greenville Street Park Tuesday night for entertainment by the Royal Scottish Country Dancers. The crowd then processed up Greenville Street to the Newnan Carnegie Library for an official ribbon cutting and to tour the facility.

By ELIZABETH RICHARDSON erichardson@newnan.com On Tuesday, citizens of the city of Newnan came together to celebrate the "rebirth" of the Newnan Carnegie Library. "Carnegie has regained its proper place in downtown Newnan," said Mayor Keith Brady.
People packed the Greenville Street Park to enjoy a performance by the Royal Scottish Country Dancers before processing up Greenville Street to the newly restored Carnegie building. Rain may have driven the ribbon cutting indoors, but it didn't dampen the spirits of those in attendance -- many of whom recalled memories of the building in its original splendor. Vikki Hill brought her family to witness the historic occasion. Her daughter also sang in the Atkinson Elementary School chorus. "I watched them work on the building for so long, and I've been interested to see how it would turn out," said Hill. She said she's thrilled to have a place in downtown to bring her children. Brady told the community the story about how the Carnegie library came to be in downtown. He talked about the letter that then-21-year-old Charles Thompson, of Newnan, wrote to Andrew Carnegie to convince him to support the creation of a library in Newnan. Brady said the city has been faithful to Thompson's vision and has restored the building to a place of learning and knowledge -- "a place where people will come to learn the pleasures of reading." Brady said that both Thompson and Carnegie would have been proud of the work that the Newnan-Coweta Library Foundation has done to see that Carnegie is once again an exceptional place. Alise Cartledge, a member of the NCLF, spoke of the process that the citizens went through to restore the building. When the courts vacated the building in 2007, citizens "mobilized" within weeks to see that the building would be restored according to the wishes of the community. The effort took much collaboration between the city, the foundation, architects, construction crews and other friends of the library. The NCLF welcomed Glenn Walsh, a noted authority on the life of Andrew Carnegie, from out of state to speak at Tuesday's ceremony. Newnan's Carnegie building is the first to return to its original purpose after being converted to another use. Walsh encouraged people to learn about the life of Carnegie on the Web at andrewcarnegie.cc . Celebration week continues today with a preschool open house featuring storytellers. Storytellers have been scheduled in 30-minute increments from 9:15 to 1:30 p.m. The library will be open weekdays from 9-5 p.m. For information about the building or to volunteer, e-mail Media Coordinator Amy Mapel at amapel@cityofnewnan.org , or call the library, 770-683-1347.


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