Promoting the appreciation, enjoyment, and preservation of our library heritage
Friday, August 31, 2012
The Chelsea (MA) Public Library and the Fire of 1908
Fitz library on right after fire
The Chelsea Public Library in Massachusetts was founded in 1870. A new building donated by Eustace C. Fitz opened in 1885. Disaster struck in 1908 when the Great Chelsea Fire destroyed the building. The Chelsea fire of 1908 destroyed 1,000 buildings in all and left more than 10,000 people homeless. The library's entire collection of 80,000 volumes was consumed by the fire. Andrew Carnegie gave $57,500 for a new library in 1908 which was added to $20,000 in insurance money. The Carnegie building was dedicated in 1910. I have three postcards that document these events. The first shows the Fitz library, the second shows the results of the fire, and the third shows the Carnegie building. The Chelsea Public Library still occupies the Carnegie building. More information can be found here.