Friday, November 4, 2011

Homestead Carnegie Library

Homestead Library from Library Journal

Built in 1898, the Carnegie Library of Homestead - actually, it's located in Munhall - was designed by Alden & Harlow and constructed by William Miller & Sons, both well known artisans from Pittsburgh, at a cost of $250,000.

This library was Carnegie's gift to the workers and families of the nearby Homestead Steel Works. It was small consolation for a community torn asunder by the bloody Homestead Strike of 1892. Many didn't even want to accept the building, though it eventually became a well-used neighborhood gathering spot with its books, pool, gym and music hall.

It didn't take long for some bad mojo to strike. Robert Peebles "was found dead in eight feet of water" in the pool on November 28th, 1899, "under mysterious circumstances" according to the Homestead Messenger. No one has claimed to see his spirit hovering, but there are plenty of other eerie experiences connected to the complex.

Books fly off the stacks and switch positions on the library shelves for no apparent reason, and doors open and close without any human intervention. Loud disembodied voices have been reported (no doubt drawing a frown and a "shhhh" from the not-easily-spooked librarians). The ghosts of old steel hands, still dressed in their sooty mill outfits, wander about the structure.

The library isn't the only hot spot for the unexplained. The housekeeper claimed to have seen a shadow moving in the back steps of the old music hall in the library; shadow figures of both sexes are regularly sighted in the building. The voices of ladies giggling in the basement locker room have been heard, and by no less than the Syfy Channel's "Ghost Hunters" squad.

The TAPS team visited the library in May of this year, and in September aired an episode from Homestead including Carnegie's building. And they confirmed most of the above phenomena to be active during their midnight expedition.

So if you ever stop by to grab a book or catch a show in the music hall, remember that the old steelworker standing nearby may not be on break from pumpin' iron and sweating steel, but an ethereal reminder of Homestead's misty past.

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