Hero Fund officials travel to Scotland to honor Carnegie’s worldwide legacy

Carnegie Hero Fund officials spent time in Andrew Carnegie’s hometown of Dunfermline, Scotland, in August as the final celebrations of the centennial of Carnegie’s death took place. The Andrew Carnegie 100 Years Centenary event marking Carnegie’s death took place Aug. 11-12, 2019.


Hero Fund officials in Scotland
Hero Fund Commission member Peter J. Lambrou, left, and Hero Fund President Eric P. Zahren, right, flank William Thomson, great-grandson of Andrew Carnegie at Skibo Castle.
Officials in Scotland
The Carnegie Tiffany Window, installed in Dunfermline Abbey Church on Aug. 12, 2019.

On Aug. 11, 2019, several wreaths were placed at the statue of Carnegie in Pittencrieff Park. As a child, Carnegie was banned from the park, but later purchased it in 1902. The park was bequeathed in perpetuity for public use, and the statue of Carnegie erected in 1914. At the ceremony, Dunfermline Abbey Church minister the Rev. MaryAnne Rennie said, “We meet in a place that was of huge significance to Andrew Carnegie, for from childhood, in his mind, Pittencrieff Park was the image of paradise.”

The event, organized by the Carnegie Dunfermline Trust, included wreaths laid by Carnegie Corporation of New York President Vartan Gregorian and Carnegie’s great-grandson, William Thomson. According to the Carnegie Medal of Philanthropy website, in a similar event held at Carnegie’s grave in Sleepy Hollow, N.Y., Gregorian addressed Carnegie’s unassuming headstone and said, “We thank you very much for your generosity, for your vision, and for your humanity. We try to do justice to your vision and your legacy. We are fully aware that we are guardians of your legacy and mission.”

The centerpiece of the celebration was the unveiling and dedication of the Carnegie Tiffany Window, an 8-foot tall stained glass art piece that depicted a colorful outdoor scene. Carnegie commissioned the Tiffany window, designed and made in the Tiffany Studios in New York, in 1913 as a memorial to parents William and Margaret, brother Thomas, and sister Anne. Carnegie’s plan was to have the stained glass window installed in the Dunfermline Abbey Church, but the window was deemed “unecclesiastical and too modern” at the time. The window, finished in 1914, was packed away until it was installed in an auditorium in Carnegie Hall in Dunfermline in 1937, later to be stored at the headquarters of the Carnegie Trust. It was recently restored and installed in the Abbey Church, where Carnegie originally wished. On Aug. 12 as part of the centenary, the window was dedicated as part of a service that included the hymn “Amazing Grace” and a Celtic blessing.

Carnegie Dunfermline Trust chairman Ian Wilson, quoted in The Courier newspaper (United Kingdom), told those gathered at the dedication, “As custodians of Pittencrieff Park, the Andrew Carnegie Birthplace Museum, and former keepers of the Tiffany window, the trustees are proud to see such a major occasion for us marked in this way. To fulfill Carnegie’s own wishes on this anniversary provides the opportunity to reflect on what has been achieved with his legacy over the last hundred years, and to look forward to the achievements of the next.”

After the centenary celebration, Hero Fund officials visited Skibo Castle, near Dornoch, approximately 180 miles northwest of Dunfermline. Carnegie purchased the castle in 1898, and it remained in his family until 1982, when it was sold. Stained glass windows in Skibo’s Great Hall were designed in 1902 for Carnegie and tell Carnegie’s story and that of Skibo Castle. Carnegie once said of the castle, “Heaven itself is not as beautiful as Skibo.”

— Susan Rizza, case investigator

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