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Carnegie readies for 100-year milestone
Public invited to share stories
Carnegie pic1
The Carnegie building has been through a lot since its original opening as a library in 1916, including renovation and expansion after an arson fire in 2005 that saw the creation of the Carnegie Arts Center in 2011. - photo by Journal file photo

Whether it was the spot to read a book in the 1920s, play a round of ping-pong in the 1970s, or take in a work of art in the current decade, the Carnegie building has long been a part of Turlock’s landscape.

The site will mark its centennial in February, but the special events celebrating the milestone will go all year long.

In a wave of altruism, industrialist Andrew Carnegie took on a campaign to promote education and literacy in the United States by building libraries across the country. Turlock was one of the communities to benefit from his philanthropy and in 1916 the Carnegie Library opened. For more than 50 years the site served as the town’s library until a new library was opened on Minaret Avenue. In the late 1960s and through most of the 1970s, the Carnegie site found new life as the Kaleidoscope, a teen recreation center. In 1984 the site came under the operation of the Turlock City Arts Commission and was used for a variety of artistic endeavors. The facility was undergoing a remodel in 2005, when an arson’s match sparked a fire that left the historic building in ruin. With all but the exterior walls destroyed, it was uncertain if the Carnegie building would rise again or just become part of Turlock’s history. But a concerted effort from a dedicated group revived the facility and created its current incarnation as the Carnegie Arts Center.

“The Carnegie has worn different hats over the years, but it has always been a place for the community,” said Carnegie Arts Center Director Lisa McDermott. “That has been the common thread through all the years.”

The Carnegie Arts Center Foundation is looking to share and preserve the many memories of the Carnegie building over the decades through their book, “100 Stories: Turlock’s Carnegie Remembered.” The Foundation is currently accepting submissions of short stories, poems, artwork or photographs that help tell the history of the building and the impact it had on the lives of community members.

The centennial celebration will kick-off Feb. 27, 2016, with a groundbreaking celebration and an open house. The festivities will include a free art or dance class for children.

On May 12, 2016, the Foundation will partner with the Turlock Historical Society for “In Their Footsteps.” Held in conjunction with the Art Around Town event, participants will take a stroll through historic downtown Turlock that will include lessons on Turlock’s history from docents at places of interest.

The Foundation will do some time traveling back to the 1970s on July 30, 2016 with the Kaleidoscope Flashback Cocktail Party. The ticketed event will include dancing from the music of the era.

The final event will be burying a time capsule on Sept. 9, 2016. The presentation will be followed by a screening of the film “Back to the Future.”

The centennial will also be celebrated through a series of pop-up exhibitions in the Gemperle Gallery at the Carnegie. The free exhibits will only be up for 10-days at a time and will feature the works of selected area artists.

Submissions should be no longer than 400 words. Items can be sent by mail to Carnegie Arts Center, 250 N. Broadway, Turlock, Ca. 95380 or email at with Carnegie Stories Project in the subject line. The deadline for submissions is Dec. 7.