Council of Independent Colleges Historic Campus Architecture Project


Carnegie Library

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Institution Name: Drake University
Original/Historic Place Name: Carnegie Library
Location on Campus: SE campus
Date(s) of Construction:
1908original construction Proudfoot & Bird
Designer: Proudfoot & Bird
Type of Place: Individual building
Style: Other (Glossary)
Significance: architecture
Narrative: see below
References: see below
Foundation: masonry
Walls: brick masonry
Roof: wood framing and shingles
ca. 1908academic department building (political science and history; also contained university high school)
1908-present (2006)library (originally the main library until 1937; now the main law library)

Carnegie Library marks not only the development of Drake University as an institution of higher learning, but is also associated with the prestigious campaign of one of America's most influential businessmen, Andrew Carnegie.

Completed in 1908, the Carnegie Library was designed by the team of Proudfoot and Bird. Known for their work at the collegiate level, Proudfoot and Bird began in 1890 and was the prominent architecture firm in Iowa until the 1930s. Their design for the library featured a three-story structure constructed of brick masonry. Classical motifs were utilized within the design, featuring simple cornice with dentils, stone capitals on columns with geometric patterning, and simple, square details below the second story sills. In addition, the building featured a high basement and three-part windows with multiple panes.

Originally, Carnegie Library served as Drake University's main library. The lower floor was utilized as the university high school, while the main floors housed the history and political science offices and classrooms. Today, Carnegies serves as the main library for the Drake Law School.

The most important feature of the Carnegie Library is not found within its program or formal elements. Instead, the construction of the library marked an important shift in the history of Drake University. With the addition of the library funded at a national level, Drake marked its move from a small community institution to a progressive and nationally recognized university.


Long, Barbara Beving. Drake University Campus Historic District. National Register of Historic Places designation report. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of the Interior/National Park Service, 1988.


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Last update: November 2006