Window display honors co-founder of Historical Society of Carnegie
August 21, 2015 12:00 AM
A display at the front entrance of the Historical Society of Carnegie Museum honors co-founder Marcella McGrogan who died on Aug. 12.
By Len Barcousky / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Marcella McGrogan’s wedding dress is featured in a memorial display in the front window of the Historical Society of Carnegie’s headquarters on West Main Street.
The exhibit also includes photos taken during the life of Mrs. McGrogan, who died Aug. 12 at St. Clair Hospital after a short illness. She was 91.
Mrs. McGrogan co-founded the historical society 25 years ago with her husband, Daniel J. McGrogan Jr., and the tribute to her is appropriate, said Harry Rieder, membership chairman of the historical society.
“She was dedicated to the historical society,” he said. “She was the first person to arrive here and the last to leave.”
Carnegie Mayor Jack Kobistek said the borough and the historical society have had their trials over the years. The community has been hit by periodic floods, and a 2005 fire damaged the historical society’s home at a 1 W. Main St.
In recent years, more restaurants, boutiques and specialty stores and galleries have opened in the borough and society membership has risen.
“We are on an upswing, and Marcella did get to see that,” Mr. Kobistek said.
Carnegie may be best known as the home of baseball great Honus Wagner. Dan McGrogan, who succeeded his mother as president of the historical society, said there is much more to the community’s past. Ruggero Aldisert, who died last year and who had served as judge on the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, was a Carnegie native who wrote about his boyhood in the bustling borough.
“It was a big center for shopping and an important part of the streetcar system,” Mr. McGrogan said. The community’s commercial past is recalled in one of the historical society’s best-known displays: a miniature Main Street, circa 1940, made by Walter Stasik.
Joan Harbin, a former recording secretary for the historical society, described working with Mrs. McGrogan as challenging and educational. “She knew what she wanted and was very knowledgeable,” she said.
Carol Dlugos, a 25-year volunteer and board member, used the words “strong-willed” and “determined” to describe her friend.
Co-founding the historical society was not Mrs. McGrogan’s first experience with preserving the past. She had served earlier as the board president for the Andrew Carnegie Free Library & Music Hall in the borough.
“She was a fixture in Carnegie,” Maggie Forbes, the library executive director, said. “Her love and knowledge about the town were completely extraordinary.”
Mrs. McGrogan was honored two years ago at a fundraising concert in the music hall. The event starred the Joe Negri Trio and raised money for the society and seed funds for the community’s 125th anniversary celebration. She and her husband had played major roles in the borough's centennial commemoration in 1994.
Marcella Catherine Herman was born July 20,1924, the daughter of the late Charles E. and Louisa Daube Herman. She attended local Catholic schools and Seton Hill College. She worked for 20 years as a library associate at the University of Pittsburgh's Hillman Library, retiring in 1989.
She and her husband raised 11 children, three of whom still live in Carnegie. Her services were held last week. The family has requested donations to the Historical Society of Carnegie, PO Box 826, Carnegie, PA 15106.
Len Barcousky: email@example.com or 724-772-0184.
To report inappropriate comments, abuse and/or repeat offenders, please send an email to
firstname.lastname@example.org and include a link to the article and a copy of the comment. Your report will be reviewed in a timely manner.