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Stories from the valley

The Carnegie Library Museum and Old Town Roseville: Two Hidden Historic Gems

Contributed by Keli Gwyn

When I think of Roseville, wide avenues lined with businesses, bustling shopping malls, and a bounty of restaurants come to mind. But there’s more to this thriving city. In the heart of Old Town, you’ll find historic buildings nestled in a less-traveled but inviting four-block section beside the railroad tracks.

One of the most famous buildings is the Carnegie Library Museum at the corner of Lincoln and Pleasant Streets. It dates back to 1910, when the Women’s Improvement Club of Roseville set a goal of constructing a library. They raised $2,000, steel magnate Andrew Carnegie’s foundation provided the remaining $10,000, and local businessman Andrew McRae donated the land.

By 1912, the library was complete, joining the ranks of 2,508 other libraries across the country that were fully or partially funded by Carnegie’s generosity. The library operated as such until 1979. Four years later, the Roseville Historical Society turned the building into the fine museum it is today.

The society has done an admirable job of preserving Roseville’s rich history. Informative and artfully arranged exhibits feature homemaking, military, the city’s agricultural beginnings, and, of course, the railroad that has played a vital role in making Roseville what it is today. Docents will gladly operate many of the exhibits for you, including the model train in the spacious train room.

The museum is open Tuesdays – Fridays, as well as the second Saturday of each month, from 10 am – 2 pm. Friendly docents are on hand to share their wealth of knowledge about Roseville’s history. Young visitors can participate in a scavenger hunt and explore a hands-on children’s section. Admission is free, although a small donation is appreciated. You can find out more about the museum here.

Before leaving the museum, be sure to pick up a copy of the Historic Roseville Walking Tour brochure, or you can find it online here. The tour begins at the museum and leads you through Old Town, where you’ll find many beautiful buildings to admire. Among them are the stately McRae Building, the cultural hub that housed an opera hall upstairs, and the uniquely shaped Barker Hotel, built in 1911 on the site of three former hotels. You can continue your tour by taking the Washington Boulevard Underpass to the Vernon Street Corridor, where you’ll find even more to explore.

If you’re like me, walking can work up an appetite. Not to worry. You can enjoy a tasty meal at Old Town Pizza located at 120 Church Street. The service is great, and the railroad-themed décor creates a fitting atmosphere.