The Colton Area Museum is dedicated to promoting public awareness of Colton area history by collecting, preserving and displaying historic artifacts. In carrying out its mission, the museum also holds monthly meetings featuring topics of historical interest, publishes Crossroads, a twice-yearly journal of Colton area history, and presents exhibits to annual community events such as Unity Day and Discover Colton.
Location & Hours
The Colton Area Museum is located in the former Carnegie Public Library building at:
380 North La Cadena Drive, Colton, California
P.O. Box 1648, Colton, CA 92324
Open Wednesday and Friday 1:00 to 4:00 p.m. and Saturday 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. Special tours arranged by appointment.
Program meetings are held the second Thursday of each month, 5:30 – 7:00 PM in the lower level of the old Carnegie Library at 380 N. La Cadena Drive, Colton. The public is always welcome and invited to attend.
Background & History of Carnegie Building and the Colton Area Museum Association -
Andrew Carnegie was a Scottish immigrant who came to our country in the mid 19th century. Carnegie had little opportunity for schooling, but in his autobiography he wrote about a Colonel Anderson who started a small library of 400 books that he made available to working boys. This is how he educated himself, and he wanted others to have the same opportunity to educate themselves. He believed that those who had ambition and ability could, like him, better themselves and share in America’s richness.
When Carnegie retired, his fortune was estimated to be a half billion dollars. In his book, The Gospel of Wealth, he argued that those who have great wealth have a moral obligation to give away their fortune for the benefit of society. And this is exactly what Andrew Carnegie began to do.
Between 1889 and 1929, 1,689 libraries were built in the United States with money from Carnegie. This number doesn’t include those built in Great Britain, Ireland, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and even Fiji.
To receive money from Carnegie, the town first had to provide a site for the building. The site chosen was a corner lot on 8th Street that we now know as La Cadena. The cost of the property was $4000 and was purchased by public subscription. Carnegie donated $10,000 for the buiding’s construction.
Frank Burnham of Los Angeles was the architect, and the firm of Kaiser and Loomis of Colton was the building contractor. The library with twin columns at the entrance was built in the neo-classical style. Solid Colton Portland cement was used, and the main floor was constructed of stained and varnished Oregon pine. Mahogany was used for the interior trim, and the front door was made of solid oak.
The Colton Public Library opened on November 11, 1908. When the library moved its book collection to the new location at 9th and D Streets, the city now had an empty building, and plans were made to make it into a local museum. In 1984, under the leadership of Hazel Olson, the Colton Area Museum Association was formed. In December 1991 the building was officially opened as the Colton Area Museum.
Many generous donations have made the Colton Area Museum a place for preserving our city’s rich heritage and keeping alive the memory of our pioneer families and hometown heroes such as Virgil Earp and Ken Hubbs. If you haven’t yet found the time, make a special effort to visit our fine museum. You will find it a rewarding experience, and will come away with a greater apprciation of the city of Colton.
- Excerpts from a presentation by Scott Klemm, Colton Area Museum president, for the 100 year celebration of the Carnegie Building on November 22, 2008.