Historic Munhall library pool dedicated
Carnegie Library of Homestead has unveiled its newly repaired pool.
The dedication took place on Friday night during the Steel Valley Hall of Fame ceremony at the Munhall library.
“It's the oldest indoor heated continually-operated pool in Pennsylvania,” said Matt Szanca, library director of building operations.
He said library board member Matt Bovee managed the pool repair project and he assisted.
“We battled for the past 10 years with leaks,” library board president Phil Herrle said. “We've had issues with the filtration and the French drain.”
“We were losing quite a bit of water a day,” Szanca said.
Herrle thanked Bovee and Szanca for their hard work on the pool project.
The pool, which is 114 years old, will not be open to the public for another month because of finishing touches.
Pool work began in July.
“We took out the old drain,” Herrle said. “They patched all the leaks that were in the pool. We put a new liner in and raised the water level.”
He said there also were new steps, lighting and glass doors installed.
“All the electrical was upgraded,” Herrle said.
The pool repairs were made possible by donations of $75,000 from the Mathieson and Cook families and $100,000 from Steel Valley benefactor William V. Campbell Jr.
Members of the Mathieson and Cook families grew up in the area and swam at the pool often. Campbell, a 1958 Homestead High School graduate who now lives in Palo Alto Calif., regularly makes contributions to benefit the children of the Steel Valley.
“Everything around here is part of where I grew up and what I stand for,” he said. “There are memories of my mother, father and brother. I can't even imagine not doing this for my community. I get great joy out of this.”
The second phase of repairs, expected to begin in March, will be to the locker rooms courtesy of a $60,000 donation from Lori Flesher on behalf of the Flesher and Tener families.
Flesher's cousin Judith Tener-Lewis presented the library board with the check on Friday.
“Her mother and uncle came to the library very often,” Tener-Lewis said. “She felt she wanted to donate to the library.”
She said the library swimming pool and locker rooms were utilized frequently by Flesher's mother and uncle.
Herrle said plans are being drafted for the locker room project.
“It's basically going to be reconfiguring the locker rooms,” he said.
The swimming pool dedication coincided with the Steel Valley Hall of Fame because three Olympic swimmers and their coach were inducted.
“In the late 1920s and throughout the 1930s, Jack Scarry was Carnegie Library's athletic director,” 2008 Hall of Fame inductee Lynn Yanyo said. “He personally trained three future Olympians in our Carnegie Library swimming pool.”
Scarry's niece Mary Scarry accepted for her uncle.
“I had the privilege of knowing some of the Olympic swimmers,” she said. “Of course being related to my uncle Jack, I grew up hearing about this famous place Homestead and Homestead library. I can say it is a special place. I don't know of any other town that has produced Olympic gems for three consecutive Olympiads.”
Susan Laird swam for the U.S. in the 1928 Olympics in Amsterdam. She also was the U.S. Junior Champion in the 100-yard freestyle event in 1926.
“Thanks so much to the hall of fame and Carnegie Library for honoring Susan Laird,” said Ken Laird, on behalf of the Laird family. “Six of Susan's nieces and nephews are here. It's so special for them to know that Susan and her teammates and coach Jack Scarry will be remembered.”
Anna Mae Gorman and Lenore Kight swam in the 1932 Olympics in Los Angeles and in the 1936 Olympics in Berlin.
Gorman received a spot in the Western PA Sports Hall of Fame in 1976.
Kight also received a silver medal for the 400-meter freestyle in 1932 and a bronze medal in the 400-meter freestyle event in 1936. She earned seven world records and was inducted into the International Swimming Hall of Fame in 1981.
Library board member Ed Wehrer also noted the efforts of former library board president Dan Lloyd and Szanca for helping the library continue to grow and improve through some tough economic times in the last several years.
Stacy Lee is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-664-9161, ext. 1970 or firstname.lastname@example.org.