The Carnegie Foundation was established in 1883 by business magnate and philanthropist Andrew Carnegie, who donated funds to establish libraries all over the world through the early twentieth century. Though 14 public libraries were built in South Carolina with the aid of Carnegie grants, this library was constructed in 1905 specifically for Converse College in Spartanburg.
Founded in 1889 to provide a liberal arts education for women, Converse College was named for local textile mogul Dexter Converse, a primary benefactor of the school. The Carnegie Library, built with the help of a $10,000 grant from the foundation, operated as the school’s library until the larger Gwathmey Library was built in 1951. In 1980 the Gwathmey building became a wing of the new Mickel Library, which continues to serve as the college’s library. The Carnegie building currently houses administrative offices and the college’ tutoring center.
The Converse College Carnegie Library is listed in the National Register as part of the Converse College Historic District:
In 1889, citizens concerned with the lack of educational opportunity for young women in the Spartanburg community spearheaded a movement that led to the establishment of Converse College. Included among these interested citizens was Dexter E. Converse, and influential leader of the textile industry and the benefactor for which the college is named. Designed to provide a liberal arts education for young women, Converse was founded during the years in which the importance of education for women was being supported in the South. Although located in an urban area and within a modern campus complex, the district preserves the character of the original campus. The district contains eight buildings, including the oldest structure built on the campus, Pell Annex, as well as other buildings that reflect the school’s early history. Representative architectural styles include Romanesque Revival, Gothic Revival, and Classical Revival. Dates of construction on buildings within the district range from 1891 to 1915. All but one are of brick. Situated in a carefully landscaped area, the district possesses compatibility of scale and material.