Gallery featuring Lincoln memorabilia to open at Carnegie library
The Andrew Carnegie Free Library & Music Hall has become home to a collection of 100 photos of President Abraham Lincoln, in time for the 150th anniversary of the Civil War’s end and Lincoln’s death.
The Lincoln Gallery will open on Presidents Day, Feb. 16, at the historic Carnegie library with a program that includes a concert, a reading of Lincoln speeches by U.S. Rep. Tim Murphy, R-Upper St. Clair, and a reception.
The photos first were displayed there five years ago after the library’s Civil War room, the Capt. Thomas Espy Post 153 of the Grand Army of the Republic, was restored.
The library now owns the collection, because of a gift from Bill and Denise Brown of Collier. The Browns also donated money for renovations at the Espy post, where Civil War veterans met in the early decades of the 20th century. The post, on the library’s second floor, is one of the few original GAR posts that remain.
Brown, retired CEO of Harbison-Walker Refractories Co., said he was touched by his first visit to the music hall, especially the Espy post.
“My dad was from upstate New York, and my mother was from Alabama,” Brown said.
There was little talk of his ancestors’ participation in the war while he was growing up in Alabama, he said, but when he saw the artifacts preserved at the Espy post he decided to do what he could to help with the restoration and his wife agreed.
Brown estimates he and his wife have given about $150,000 to the library and music hall.
The 100 Lincoln portraits belonged to Norman Schumm, a fine arts photographer, when they were displayed at the library in 2010. Schumm worked with copies of negatives by Mathew Brady, Alexander Gardner, Alexander Hesler and others to produce his large photos.
The collection includes a copy of an 1847 daguerreotype, and the only known photo of Lincoln in his coffin. Schumm also made a set of the photos for photojournalist and author Stefan Lorant.
Maggie Forbes, executive director of the library and music hall, said she planned to bring the Lincoln photos back for this year’s 150th anniversary of the end of the Civil War and Lincoln’s assassination.
Library officials discovered the collection was for sale.
“That’s our mission: To create interest and respect for that time in history,” said Forbes, who has developed a series of events around the anniversary dates.
Brown said he hopes people who live in local communities, and beyond, will recognize the significance of the history and memories inside the hilltop building. Industrialist and philanthropist Andrew Carnegie gave the library to the town; it opened in 1901.
“This is a gem of a destination and it’s not receiving enough attention,” Brown said.
After the opening the Lincoln Gallery, on the library’s second floor, will be available to visitors at no charge during regular library hours. The Espy post is open from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturdays.
Dona S. Dreeland is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-388-5803 or [email protected].