Carnegie Library of Homestead

The Carnegie Library of Homestead, Pennsylvania is a public library founded by Industrialist Andrew Carnegie in 1896, third one built in the USA and the second given to Steel Valley. This library would serve the workers and families of the nearby Homestead Steel Works as a way to make amends after a deadly battle broke out during the Homestead Strike of 1892 which pitted union workers against private security agents from the Pinkerton company. The building was designed by Pittsburgh architects Frank Alden and Alfred Harlow and constructed by William Miller and Sons with a price tag of $300,000. It not only contained a library holding over 34,000 volumes but also contains a 1,000-seat music hall and an athletic wing with a heated indoor swimming pool.

In early years, the library held class for immigrants preparing for naturalization, and later for women entering the work force. In the 1900s, the library’s football team was composed of many former star Ivy League players and was considered one of the top semi-professional teams in the country. Hall of Famer Rube Waddell played for the baseball team. In the 1920s and 30s, four Olympians trained in the library’s swimming pool, Anna Mae Gorman, Susan Laird, Josephine McKim, and Lenore Kight.

The Carnegie Library of Homestead survived in large part due to the support of USX Corporation, a successor to Andrew Carnegie's own steel venture. When the Homestead Works closed in 1988, the library passed to the community of Munhall, Pennsylvania who was experiencing economic hardships after losing its single-largest employer and tax base. The library remained open and operational thanks to several volunteers who worked to secure grant money. The boiler was replaced, a new slate roof was installed, and new windows replaced the hundred-year-old wooden sashes. While other libraries donated by Andrew Carnegie have either closed or been demolished, Carnegie Library of Homestead has remained operational for over a century and some believe it may be haunted.

The deadly strike in 1892 left 40 wounded and 9 killed on the workers side and 20 shot, seven killed and 300 injured on Pinkerton's side. A man named Robert E. Peebles was found dead in 8 feet of water on November 28, 1899. It was reported he died “under mysterious circumstances”. Could these tragedies be the cause of Carnegie Library’s haunted status? There have been reports of books flying off of shelves, apparitions of former steel workers dressed in dirty clothes, shadow figures and voices (both male and female). Perhaps some steel workers are still fighting to be heard.


The Tame Lion said…
Informative! Well done, Andrea!
Mark Bowan said…
As the Director of the Library's Official Paranormal Team, the Oakmont Paranormal Society, I have a little bit of insight in this article.

Mr Peebles died in the deep end, right about the 9' area, and within arms reach of the ladder to get out. It took 8 hours to locate his body because there was a problem with the water filtration system, and the water was pitch black due to the soot, grime and dead skin coming off the workers' from the mill.
I have a copy of the original newspaper article about Robert's death, and it says he died of congestive heart failure.

Drake Bowan, Director,
Oakmont Paranormal Society

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