Award Winning Union Carnegie Library

The Union County Carnegie Library has been selected for a 2019 Historic Preservation Honor Award, which celebrates “successful and exemplary historic preservation projects around the Palmetto State.”

According to the South Carolina Department of Archives, “each year thousands of South Carolinians work to preserve the state’s legacy that is reflected in our historic buildings, structures, and sites. Since 1995, Preservation South Carolina, the SC Department of Archives and History, and the Office of the Governor have recognized exceptional accomplishments in the preservation, rehabilitation and interpretation of our architectural and cultural heritage with a series of statewide awards.” The awards ceremony was held on Friday, June 21st at 10:30am at the South Carolina State House in Columbia with the Honorable Governor Henry McMaster presenting.

The Union County Carnegie Library opened in 1905 as the first Carnegie library in South Carolina and represents an important part of both South Carolina’s and Union County’s history. The building was designed in the Beaux-Arts style by the architectural firm of IMG_4312.JPGWheeler & Runge, who oversaw the construction of numerous public buildings throughout the Carolinas and Georgia early in the century. The Carnegie Library completed a $2.5 million renovation and historic restoration in 2018 with Harper General Contractors and McMillan Pazdan Smith Architecture. The newly renovated facility is the first of its kind in South Carolina and now houses Union County’s United Way nonprofit center, workforce development services, and serves as the academic library for the University of South Carolina in Union.

“From the first moment I walked into this library, it has been one of my favorite buildings,” said Donnie Love, Architect and Historic Preservation Expert for McMillan Pazdan Smith. “Getting to help lead the restoration has been particularly meaningful for me. Because this building is so interwoven into the fabric of the community, it was not only a restoration but a re-energizing as well, something our team was honored to be part of.” Highlights of the project include restoration of the tin ceiling and reincorporating the building’s original paint scheme into the space. Additionally, the renovation included a new children’s area with a slide between the main and lower levels, which increased the library’s operating space by approximately 4,000 square feet. Another important aspect of the renovation was inclusivity, with the Carnegie Library now being the most accessible public facility in the county.

Rieta Drinkwine, Executive Director of the Union County Library System stated “We are honored to be a recipient of the 2019 SC Preservation Honor Award. The most rewarIMG_4313.JPGding part of this project is seeing how excited the community is about the newly renovated and restored Union Carnegie Library. The Library proudly serves as a cornerstone of Union’s unique heritage, and our updated partnership facility embodies what we can accomplish together as a community in the future.” The Union County Carnegie Library was additionally among the 30 finalists for the Institute of Museum and Library Services 2019 National Medal for Museum and Library Service. The National Medal is the nation’s highest honor given to museums and libraries for service to their communities.

We are honored and proud to serve Union County, and thank you all for your continued support. We could not have completed this project successfully or do the many things we do for our community without the support of our state legislative delegation, our national legislators, local elected officials, our project team with Harper and MPS, individual and corporate donors such as the Timken Foundation, the Library Board, Friends of the Library, the wonderful library staff, and all of the many volunteers and advocates in the community.

Please feel free to contact library staff at 864-427-7140 or email with any questions. Follow our Facebook page, for updates on our upcoming Fall events and programs. Our hours are 8AM-7PM Monday-Thursday, and 9AM-3PM Friday & Saturday. Stop by to see our beautiful library, and sign-up for Summer Reading at to log points and win prizes!

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