About the Project

Celebrating Ray Bradbury in His Library

University of Illinois Press, cover design by Rich Hendel

University of Illinois Press, cover design by Rich Hendel

Ray Bradbury was a reader. His favorites were Buck Rogers, Tarzan, Dickens, Twain, and more. He filled his hungry imagination in his hometown Carnegie library. Then he went on to a lifetime of writing with joy, gusto, love, and fun.

It was his imagination that produced Fahrenheit 451, The Martian Chronicles, Dandelion Wine, and more than 500 other published works that are enshrined forever in American culture.

How could the world experience Bradbury’s imagination in his library? How could the place where he spent so much time dreaming and imagining be abandoned to time?

The building lay vacant

In the early 1990s, the historic Carnegie building was in imminent danger of being demolished. An all-volunteer group formed and succeeded in rescuing Ray Bradbury's 1903 Carnegie Building from demolition. The organization also stabilized it in preparation for renovation. Ray Bradbury visited Waukegan several times to support the group’s work, drawing overflow crowds of fans. Strapped for funds, the City was unable to finance the restoration. Volunteer efforts failed to establish a program in the building and attract needed funding.

An event sparks the dream

Here is my celebration, then, of death as well as life, dark as well as light, old as well as young, smart and dumb combined, sheer joy as well as complete terror written by a boy who once hung upside-down in trees, dressed in his bat costume with candy fangs in his mouth, who finally fell out of trees when he was twelve and went and found a toy-dial typewriter and wrote his first ‘novel’.
— Ray Bradbury

Ray Bradbury’s Los Angeles home was torn down in 2012 not long after he passed away.

People realized that the only remaining monument to Ray Bradbury’s imagination, inspiration, and life was the historic Carnegie Library building in Waukegan.

In early 2015, residents witnessed the demolition of the historic Sauter Building in downtown Waukegan. Some mourned. Others became sharply aware that the Carnegie Library Building, with its rich history and National Register historic status, was also gradually decaying and in danger of being demolished.

In early 2015, Waukeganite Roxanne Cheney inspired a core group of people who were passionate about Ray Bradbury’s literary legacy to turn their energies to saving the Carnegie Library Building. They pledged to establish in it a center where the world could share in the richness and wonder of Ray Bradbury’s imagination and literary achievements.

“Ray Bradbury’s Library is like no other building in the world!”

Now The Ray Bradbury Waukegan Carnegie Library, Inc. has formed. As experts in the fields of marketing, programming, nonprofit organizations, Bradbury scholarship, and architecture, the group has worked tirelessly to make the dream a reality. Daily and hourly, the RBWCL draws more and more interest and support for Ray Bradbury’s Library—locally, regionally, nationally, and internationally.