The Pendleton Center for the Arts is located in the historic 1916 Carnegie Library building on the banks of the Umatilla River in downtown Pendleton, Oregon. This beautiful Italian Renaissance Revival style building was built with the support of self-educated millionaire industrialist Andrew Carnegie (1835 - 1919). Carnegie and the Carnegie Corporation provided funding for 1,681 public library buildings in 1,412 U.S. communities between 1889 and 1923.
To Carnegie, libraries represented self education, so a library gift should represent self help. Carnegie provided the building but the communities provided the land and tax support for the libraries.
The Pendleton project was the result of the perseverance of a group of local women who envisioned that the building function as a gathering place. For decades the Carnegie Library was the center of the Pendleton community.
Crumbling walls, leaky pipes and the cost of ADA accessibility and upgrading contributed to the relocation of the library in 1996. Unwilling to allow the beloved building to lie vacant, the Arts Council of Pendleton proposed a renovation to create a multi-venue arts center. The Arts Council, founded in 1974 and one of the oldest in Oregon, had been holding exhibits and events in a range of multi-use facilities, including the local community college, National Guard armory, the convention center - even members’ homes. They were granted a thirty-year lease on the building by the City of Pendleton. Individuals, businesses and granting agencies contributed $1.8 million towards the project, renovation began in 1998 and was completed in January 2001.
Today, the building is once again an important gathering place for people of all ages in the community.
And just as Carnegie infused our culture with the belief that access to books is an important public service, the Arts Center seeks to make access to art and art making a regular part of our day to day lives.
The Arts Council of Pendleton’s members have received much recognition for their arts advocacy in the region. Pictured at right are three local recipients of the Governor’s Art Award, artist James Lavadour, artist and board member Lorie Baxter and the late Amy Bedford with local arts advocate Jane Hill.
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