Wedding caps off Civil War programming

| Thursday, April 19, 2007

It won't be make-believe when Joanne Shelby and Michael Klein of Monroeville are united in a Civil War-era military wedding at the Andrew Carnegie Free Library & Music Hall in Carnegie.

The wedding of Shelby, 44, and Klein, 39 -- members of the 9th Pennsylvania Reserves, a local Civil War re-enactment group -- is among the highlights of an April 28 war exposition being hosted by the library.

Shelby, who portrays Mary Todd Lincoln, and Klein, who portrays the first lady's personal escort, met in 2004 in Pittsburgh while planning a Civil War re-enactment.

Having a wedding ceremony fashioned after those of the Civil War era has been Shelby's dream for several years. She's been interested in the war since she was a child. After her first visit to Gettysburg in 1981, she became "fascinated" with the war and time period, she said.

The unique wedding on the library grounds is open to the public as part of the day's events. It is patterned after a wedding that took place in 1862 in Union General Joseph Hooker's camp outside Washington, DC.

The entire bridal party will be dressed in fashions from the Civil War era. Shelby will wear a reproduction of a dress found in the Victoria and Albert Museum in England. Her accessories include a cameo pin and earrings from the 1860s. Klein will dress in his reproduction cavalry uniform, complete with saber and pistol.

"I'm excited about the wedding," Shelby said. "It's a great opportunity for people to witness what it was like in that time period."

The day will feature ongoing tours of the Thomas Espy Grand Army of the Republic Post No. 153, a historic room at the library filled with an array of flags, books, medals and other artifacts collected by Civil War veterans who met in the room from 1906 to the mid 1930s. Espy was a soldier from Upper St. Clair.

The room was locked and left undisturbed for 50 years, and its historical refurbishing is now a major priority of the $8.6 million campaign to restore and renovate the library, said Maggie Forbes, the library's executive director.

"The GAR room is one of the best in the country. It's like a time capsule filled with artifacts," Forbes said. "We have this very unique treasure here, and we want to bring it back historically accurate."

They day will include an encampment and drills. An exposition in the library Reception Hall will feature exhibitors and vendors with booths on the GAR, Civil War medicine, civilian life, antiques and other historical memorabilia.

The day-long event will culminate with an evening concert of Civil War era music by two groups: Home Front, and Acoustic Shadows of the Blue and Gray.

Additional Information:

If you go

What : A day of Civil War programming at the Andrew Carnegie Free Library & Music Hall, featuring an actual wedding ceremony fashioned after those of the Civil War era, plus re-enactments, tours of the Thomas Espy Grand Army of the Republic Post room, and an evening concert of Civil War era music.

When : Saturday, April 28, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. The wedding ceremony takes place at 4:30 p.m. on the library grounds, and the concert begins at 8 p.m. in the library's music hall.

Where : Andrew Carnegie Free Library & Music Hall, 300 Beechwood Ave., Carnegie.

Tickets : Daytime programming and wedding ceremony, free. Concert tickets are $10 for adults, $7.50 for children and seniors, and may be bought in advance at the library or at the door.

Details : 412-276-3456 or online at

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