In another thread, I mistakenly said that the Carnegie Library in Waukegan no longer exists. The building does in fact exist, although it hasn't served as a library since the 1960s. A drawing of the old library, which is on Sheridan Road near a bluff overlooking Lake Michigan. (Bradbury's great-grandparents' home, the inspiration for Doug Spaulding's grandparents' home in Dandelion Wine, was on the same road.)
Ray Bradbury has spoken very fondly of his regular Monday night visits to the library when he was growing up in Waukegan, which plays a prominent part in his novel Something Wicked This Way Comes.
Nard Kordell gave an account on this boards of a visit in 2002, when the building was was in much disrepair.
The building is now owned by the local Carnegie Preservation Project, which saved it from demolition and hopes to turn it into a youth center, or a children's museum.
Thanks for the update and links, Walloon. It is strange to me that real places which have such significance in the fiction of such a significant author are allowed to fall apart. In the UK, such place would have been turned into visitor attractions years ago!
I think the best explanation is that with America being the size it is, most preservation projects are under local control, not national. The city of Waukegan has been in economic decline for decades and probably does not have the funds to allocate to such a project. If you ever visit Waukegan, you can see from the condition of the streets and sidewalks alone that they have budgetary problems.
We do have a National Register of Historic Places, maintained by the National Park Service. Listing in the register makes the property eligible for an investment tax credit (which is relevant only if the property has a for-profit owner), and qualifies the property for federal grants, "when funds are available".
In a sense, Bradbury has done his own great preservation project for Waukegan's Carnegie Library: he memoralized it for all time in Something Wicked This Way Comes.This message has been edited. Last edited by: Walloon,
• Picture postcards of Waukegan.
• Waukegan Lighthouse. (Hopefully with a Fog Horn.)
• 1920 map of Waukegan. The year of Bradbury's birth. As you can see, not a large town then, only about 1.5 miles from north to south, and a mile from east to west. The Carnegie Library is on the northeast corner of Sheridan Road at Washington Street, on a bluff overlooking the railyards and Lake Michigan. Ray's great-grandparents' home, the inspiration for Doug Spaulding's grandparents' home in Dandelion Wine and the Elliot family mansion in From the Dust Returned, was just across Sheridan Road. Ray's parents' home was seven blocks west. Between the two: The infamous Ravine!
• Ray's great-grandfather S.I. Bradbury, mayor of Waukegan in 1882.
• Oakwood Cemetery, with Lake Michigan in the background, is quite pretty — by day.
• Lake County Courthouse, 1878-1968.
• Downtown redevelopment plan.
• Waukegan trolley lines. Remember the last ride in Dandelion Wine? Another picture.
• The Waukegan River. Another pretty view. Unfortunately, the Ravine has become a garbage dump for some.
• 1854 Greek Revival mansion, demolished on 19 April 2005.
• Growing up in Waukegan in the 1930s.
• The Karcher Hotel was the tallest building in Waukegan in the 1920s and 1930s. It later became a shelter for homeless men.
• Urban blight in Waukegan.This message has been edited. Last edited by: Walloon,
The beautiful old courthouse was torn down, which is a crying shame.
The Carnegie Library is still standing and they are proceeding with RFQ's and RFP's to get consultants on board to determine costs for a total rehab of the building (HVAC, windows, roof, renovation) including making it ADA compliant. Otherwise, the building is structurally sound. Waukegan has been proceeding with major redevelopment of its downtown and lakefront which this library is located in the middle of.
Hey, that's great, and perfect timing! Maybe President Obama can make it one of his public works projects. A crowning touch would be artists painting murals depicting Bradbury works.
Don't go there expecting to see stone lions, though (unless they get carried away and add some). Those need to be seen with the Tyrannosaurus Rex: in New York!
Correct me if wrong, but doesn't the UK include Scotland? http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/scotland/2669109.stm
According to a Chicago newspaper, the Carnegie Library in Waukegan is to be saved. The article mentions Bradbury and says that he would donate memorabilia to a proposed new museum:
The excellent blog of the Lake County Discovery Museum, Illinois, has this recent post about Andrew Carnegie and the Waukegan library:
While I'm here, a reminder that my own photos of Waukegan (including the interior of the Carnegie library) are here.
Here is an article that appeared in yesterday's Chicago Tribune about the latest efforts to restore and re-open the Carnegie Library in Waukegan, Illinois. This idea is to turn it into a Ray Bradbury museum. Hopefully, this idea will come to fruition.
Good news! I received the following today in an e-mail from the Ray Bradbury Experience Museum. The vacant Carnegie Library in Waukegan, Illinois, which Ray Bradbury frequented as a child, has been transferred by the Waukegan City Council to the Waukegan Park District, which plans to renovate the historic building. Here is the communication sent out by the Museum:
"Dear Friends of the Ray Bradbury Experience Museum,
Today, we’re celebrating the news! The historic Carnegie Library will be preserved as an architectural treasure in Waukegan. The now vacant building at 1 N. Sheridan Road was transferred to the Waukegan Park District by the Waukegan City Council on September 16, 2019.
We wholeheartedly agree with Jay Lerner, Executive Director, Waukegan Park District, “The community can be assured that this project will strengthen not only downtown but Waukegan as a whole.” The RBEM Committee looks forward to continuing our collaboration with the Waukegan Park District and the City of Waukegan as we grow RBEM’s future.
As we look around us today, we see it emerging: downtown Waukegan as a Bradbury-themed destination that will attract local, regional, national, and international visitors.
It will be exciting watch the renovation of the Carnegie, though it will take years. The Carnegie will tell one part of Ray Bradbury’s story—his love for the Waukegan Carnegie Library and how it was the “great watering hole” for his imagination.
Here at 13 N. Genesee, just a block to the west, the future Ray Bradbury Experience Museum will offer immersive experiences into Bradbury’s themes of space and time travel, freedom of expression, love, magic, and something wicked. RBEM will be the hometown museum Ray Bradbury deserves.
A few more blocks away, “Fantastical Traveler,” the Ray Bradbury Statue, unveiled August 22, 2019, shines in front of the Waukegan Public Library.
Nearby is Ray Bradbury Park, now a national literary landmark, with its famed ravine and bridge that Bradbury immortalized in Bradbury’s novel Dandelion Wine.
It’s happening! Build with us and share the excitement. Help open the Ray Bradbury Experience Museum.
It's now official. The City of Waukegan has transferred the shuttered Carnegie Library, in which Ray Bradbury spent so much time as a child, to the Waukegan Park District. It is the Park District's intent to transform the Library, which has fallen into disrepair, into a museum. Here is a recent Chicago Tribune article on the subject.
That's GREAT! At LAST Ray is getting his long-deserved respect!
For those who may not have ever seen it, the link below is to a short interview with Ray Bradbury, late in his life, about growing up in Waukegan, Illinois, as well as the importance of that town's Carnegie Library.
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