Carnegie honors one of its historians as borough turns 120 years old

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Two well-known names will be featured at Carnegie's 120th anniversary celebration March 27.

The Joe Negri Trio, starring the Pittsburgh jazz guitarist and songwriter himself, will make a return visit to the acoustically perfect Andrew Carnegie Free Library and Music Hall on Beechwood Avenue at 7:30 p.m. Mr. Negri, who began performing on radio at age 3, also is known for his work in television and as a music teacher.

Also being honored at the event will be Marcella McGrogan, the soft-spoken lifelong local resident, who with her late husband, Dan McGrogan Sr., formed the Historical Society of Carnegie in 1990 and played a major role in the borough's 100th anniversary gala in 1994. At that time, she sponsored a vintage fashion show at the Andrew Carnegie Free Library and Music Hall. The show included 50 bridal gowns, many from decades ago.

"We want to let her know that we appreciate what she has done," said Carnegie Mayor Jack Kobistek, who called Mrs. McGrogan "humble and modest. She does what she does because of the love she has for the borough."

The Historical Society, located in a four-story landmark building on West Main Street near Chartiers Creek, houses Walter Stasik's miniature Main Street, a wooden scale-model of Carnegie's Main Street in 1940, as well as numerous artifacts, books and other possessions that once belonged to residents. Donations continue to come in to the organization from throughout the Chartiers Valley.

The building survived the 2004 flood that devastated much of the borough and a fire the next year that destroyed two adjacent structures.

"In my experience, Marcella knows more about Carnegie than anyone else alive," said Maggie Forbes, executive director of the Andrew Carnegie Free Library. "She and the Historical Society are invaluable in tracking down arcane facts about the borough and long-gone and long-deceased residents."

"She has definitely done more than anyone when it comes to preserving our history," added Mr. Kobistek.

The soft-spoken Mrs. McGrogan, 89, in turn expressed her thanks to the community for its support over the years.

Born to the late Charles E. and Louisa Daube Herman in 1924, Mrs. McGrogan attended St. Joseph Catholic School in Carnegie and graduated from Carnegie's St. Luke High School. She attended Seton Hill College and from 1969 to 1989, and she worked as a library associate at the University of Pittsburgh's Hillman Library.

She and her husband raised 11 children, some of whom are involved in the historical society today. Their son, Dan McGrogan Jr., a semi-retired attorney, has headed the nonprofit organization since his mother retired last year for health reasons.

Tickets for the Joe Negri concert cost $30 and are being handled through the historical society. Money raised from the concert will be used for the society's operating expenses and for seed money for Carnegie's Quasquicentennial (125th) anniversary celebration in 2019. To purchase tickets, or for more information, see www.carnegieborough.com or call 412-276-7447.

The concert will be followed by a reception in the library and music hall's studio. Hors d'oeuvres and a cash bar will be available, and there will be opportunities to talk with Mrs. McGrogan and Mr. Negri.

On-site parking is limited, but a shuttle will be available to and from the free parking lot on Main Street, opposite Carnegie Coffee Co.


Carole Gilbert Brown, freelance writer, suburbanliving@post-gazette.com.

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