When I am at events, I am often asked, “are there ghost stories in your book?” Well, ghost stories are notorious and Pittsburgh has a bunch of them. I did not set out to write ghost stories in the book, but two of my stories have a ghost story attached to them. So, yes, the book though not devoted to Pittsburgh’s haunts does contain a ghost or two.
I changed up my normal presentation this month to add some of my favorite spookier stories. One that is not in the book that I slid in as a special story is the Heinz History Center. I am always curious and love a good story and this building has quite a few. In fact, I will make the case that it could very well be the most haunted building in Pittsburgh.
Is it the scariest, certainly not. However, what it may lack in fright – it makes up for in sheer volume of spooky stories.
First, the building has its own ghost or possibly ghosts. A security guard noticed a man sitting on a bench in one of the areas after hours while an event was ending. The guard figured he had gotten lost, very common throughout the nooks and crannies of this interesting building. He went to help the man, but when he got there – he was gone.
Figuring the man had found his way out, he made his way back to his post. As he was crossing the lobby, he felt something behind him. He turned and saw a ghostly figure following him. It was the man he had seen on the security camera.
The building does have a history that could be the reason from this paranormal activity and it has played host to investigators. The build was once the ice house of Pittsburgh, storing ice for the city’s use. The loading dock was on the fifth floor and it had an early elevator. The windows were narrow with heavy shudders to keep sunlight out so as to not to melt the ice.
The building was not very safe for its workers. The staircase only went to the second floor and it would be difficult to escape if a fire broke out. That is exactly what happened. The small fire soon turned into a big fire. Firefighters were unable to fight the well contained fire from the outside. They were forced to watch as the fire grew and gradually engulfed the building and caused it to collapse. Several workers lost their lives.
Though this is not the original building as the fire caused an entire loss. The current building was built almost identical to the original specifications. It also may now have some permanent residents.
So, that is our first evidence, but this is not nearly enough to make it the most haunted in Pittsburgh. However, the Heinz History center contains a large collection and a few of these items have their own spooky stories.
The first is the cursed bed from the former Monongahela Hotel. Abraham Lincoln stopped in Pittsburgh on his way to Washington, DC. He was naturally given the finest room in the hotel. And he slept in this bed.
Lincoln, of course was assassinated. Now, I know this on its own does not make this spooky. However, since Lincoln slept there, the room became in demand. Two other Presidents stayed in the room and slept in the bed – James Garfield and William McKinley. And both, you guessed it, were assassinated.
Coincidence, maybe. However, the bed became known as the ‘Cursed Bed’ and it now sits in the museum.
That is number two, but I am not done. The museum also holds in the collection maybe the second most famous sleigh to Santa’s. They have the infamous sleigh that the Biddle Brothers and Mrs. Soffel used for their escape in 1902.
Is the sleigh haunted? That I do not know. However, my friends at Haunted Pittsburgh will tell you that Mrs. Soffel’s ghost has been seen in the windows of the former Allegheny Jail. Perhaps, the Biddle Brothers ghosts attached themselves to this item?
I feel like a game show host as I write, “But wait, that’s not all.” The History Center’s amazing collection also contains a hearse, some very spooky puppets from Czech artists killed by the Nazis in World War II, and many. more items that could be haunted and are at least vey spooky.
I rest my case, but don’t take my word for it. Check out the museum yourself and see if it truly can claim the title of Pittsburgh’s Most Haunted Building. Trick or Treat. Happy Halloween and Stay Curious!