Windermere builds brick pathway for Carnegie Library

By: Susie Iventosch, Auburn Journal correspondent
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Auburn’s Carnegie Library at 175 Almond St. has been the object of several philanthropic projects over the past two years. Through Project Auburn, the Rotary Club of Auburn transformed the backyard into a beautiful garden area with plenty of room for resident artists to work on nice days, and for art patrons to meander during art walks and other visits. Recently, despite the sweltering heat, Windermere Real Estate of Auburn shut its doors for the day to devote time and manpower to laying a brick pathway at the library to connect the front and back yards. Twenty-plus agents, staff, friends and family built the walkway using pavers and sand delivered by the city. “We are thrilled with the amazing volunteer work that has been donated to this facility,” resident artist and retired Del Oro art teacher Paula Amerine said. “We’re so honored to be here and beyond grateful to the Rotary Club and Windermere for the huge improvements in the condition of the building and surrounding yard.” The artists also want to be good stewards of this historical building and hope to garner additional funding to generate other needed projects such as a new roof and historical markers. “We want to do all we can to make this place open and inviting to the public,” Amerine added. The Carnegie Library, built in 1909, was one of some 2,500 libraries built in the United States and Europe funded by philanthropist Andrew Carnegie and other Scottish-American businessmen. These libraries were opened with the intent to always remain public use facilities. The Auburn facility reflects this with the inscription “Free to All” on the front of the building. According to, 142 of these libraries were built in California alone, stretching from Alturas in the north to Calexico in the south. Sadly, only 85 of the original buildings still stand today. Auburn applied and was granted a $10,000 grant to build the library. It was designed by architect Allen Fellows and built on the present property, purchased for $400, after considerable debate. For a time, it was occupied by both county and city libraries. Next-door neighbor Marilyn Williams is impressed with the transformation of the library grounds. “The project is wonderful,” she exclaimed. “I’ve lived here since 1971 and this is the first time anything has been done with the yard. These organizations have done a quick job of making it happen. And, they’ve been very considerate not to block my driveway!” After the Auburn Library moved to its new facility in 1972, the Carnegie Library building lay dormant until 1983 when the original PlacerArts, then known as Artcetera, occupied the building. PlacerArts relocated to the High Street facility in 1997 and the following year renovation of the Carnegie building began through a matching grant between the City of Auburn and the Auburn Foundation. Since that time, the building has been improved and is now occupied by PlacerArts’ Old Library Art Studios, or OLAS, housing seven artists in residence. The building is now part of the tour of the Auburn Art Walks held the second Thursdays of April, June, August and October. Windermere’s Cindy Thornsberry coordinated the brick pathway effort, with the help of her husband, Stan, and she is pleased with the results. “It’s so fulfilling to take on and complete a project like this,” Thornsberry said. “It’s definitely a big group effort. In addition to the staff, many friends and family members came out to help, the city donated and delivered the pavers and sand, and Harvey Roper was instrumental in helping us to find the project in the first place.” The Windermere “community service” day is a company-wide event, where each office closes on the same day to focus on a project in its home community.