Millvale to celebrate Abraham Lincoln

| Wednesday, Nov. 13, 2013, 9:00 p.m.

Lincoln will recite the Gettsyburg Address from the steps of a Millvale theater on Saturday.

The Lincoln at the theater will be Ralph C. Lincoln, who said he's a third cousin of America's 16th president. Lincoln, 56, of Berlin, Somerset County, will appear in Millvale dressed as his famous relative as part of borough events commemorating the 150th anniversary of the speech.

“We need to remember where our founding fathers came from and look (at history) in that perspective,” said Lincoln, a member of The Association of Lincoln Presenters, an organization whose members make public appearances as Abraham Lincoln or his wife, Mary Todd Lincoln.

The Millvale Community Library, which opened in August as the first and only library in Millvale's 145-year history, is organizing the free anniversary events.

“We just opened in August, and we wanted to bring the community together around educational initiatives. And this is a really fun, quick, really simple way to celebrate something really important in the nation's history,” said Tricia George, secretary of the library's board of trustees.

In addition, the borough has historic ties to the Civil War, said Tina Walker, a library board member.

More than half of Millvale's streets are named after Civil War generals and places, and much of the housing in the borough was built during that era, said Walker, who is president of the Millvale Borough Development Corp.

The anniversary events will include local history buff Jack Puglisi leading an interactive discussion at the library about the life of Abraham Lincoln, and Ralph Lincoln impersonating the late president at a meet-and-greet at the library, making appearances at businesses on Grant and North avenues and eating lunch at Pamela's Diner in the Lincoln Pharmacy on North Avenue.

Four life-size cutouts of Abraham Lincoln are in various places in the borough, including Pamela's, Walker said.

Fought in July 1863, the Battle of Gettysburg was the Civil War's bloodiest battle, with 51,000 casualties, according to the National Park Service, which oversees Gettysburg National Military Park. The battle was a turning point in the war, in that the Union victory ended Gen. Robert E. Lee's second and most ambitious invasion of the North.

The battle was the inspiration for President Abraham Lincoln's Gettysburg Address, which he delivered on Nov. 19, 1863, at the dedication of the Soldiers' National Cemetery at Gettysburg.

The Gettysburg Address anniversary events in Millvale will introduce the new library to some residents and visitors, organizers said.

The library's opening followed five years of fundraising by the board and other community supporters, said Brian Wolovich, president of the library's board. The $350,000 collected included a $125,000 grant from The Grable Foundation and a $95,000 grant from Allegheny County, he said.

In addition to the cash raised, $250,000 worth of in-kind services, such as volunteer hours to renovate the side-by-side Grant Avenue buildings that the board bought in 2009, were donated, Wolovich said. One building became the library, and the other will be leased as apartment and retail space, he said.

“The whole process has been really empowering. It's just a bunch of neighbors. We've gotten together to make this happen,” he said.

Tory N. Parrish is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-380-5662 or

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