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Exploring History with Home Exchange

by John Mensinger on February 16, 2013

A house swap holiday is ideal for discovering history in a relaxed way. As an American I have often heard the word Carnegie, usually in the following context: Carnegie Mellon University, Carnegie Library, and the Carnegie Foundation. I was clueless about Andrew Carnegie until we exchanged homes a few minutes from his birthplace in Dunfermline, Scotland.

How serendipitous to stumble upon the story of one of America’s greatest industrialists and philanthropists in Scotland. This guy was the Warren Buffet and Bill Gates of the 19th century, though he came from a much humbler background. He left the old country and worked his way up from the bottom to become one of the wealthiest men ever. He was as creative and thorough in giving up his fortune to good causes as he was in accumulating it. It isn’t hard to find a Carnegie Library; he funded over 3,000 of them around the world. On our house exchange we encountered many of his good works, including Pittencrief Park, 76 acres of gardens he gifted to Dunfermline in 1902. (See photo.) In 1901 he created the Carnegie Trust for the Universities of Scotland. Our family is appreciative as our daughter is studying at the University of Edinburgh.

My wife read his biography, Andrew Carnegie, by Joseph Frazier Wall. Since it was over 1,000 pages she was talking about this fellow for months. As I was trying to get to sleep she was telling me the enlightened management techniques of Carnegie. To summarize, he was a successful and selfless businessman who believed in helping humanity. Home exchange is always a good way to take an affordable vacation; it can also be an inspiration to the spirit and the soul.

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