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Carnegie historical society is all in the (McGrogan) family

| Wednesday, April 3, 2013, 9:01 p.m.
Randy Jarosz | For The Signal Item
Dan McGrogan stepped in as president of the Historical Society of Carnegie in June, taking over the role his mother, Marcella McGrogan, held for years. He is holding a plaque that signifies the building's status as a National Historical Landmark.
Randy Jarosz | For The Signal Item
Dan McGrogan says his first order of business as president of the Historical Society of Carnegie is to stabilize the organization and 'keep it sustainable.'

Dan McGrogan spent years on the periphery of the Historical Society of Carnegie by helping as a contributor and whenever his mother, co-founder and president Marcella McGrogan, needed an extra hand.

But when the time came for his mother to step down, McGrogan took the lead role.

McGrogan stepped in as the organization's president in January and took over the role his mother held for years. His father, society co-founder Dan McGrogan Sr., died in 1999.

“My parents have been involved for years and years and years, since the start,” said the younger McGrogan, 63. “My mother's 88 and couldn't continue to run the organization, and there's not a lot of volunteers. We've kind of lost some of that generation of volunteers. I've stepped in to see if we can revitalize it, keep it going.”

The historical society began in 1988 and helped in the planning of the borough's centennial in 1994. In recent years, however, the organization has struggled with finances.

A main issue is the headquarters at 1 West Main St., where the society moved in 1998. The four-story structure originally opened in 1897, but the upper floors need extensive renovation.

The building was recently recognized with a plaque from the Pittsburgh History and Landmark Foundation.

The plaque recognizes the building for its architectural significance as part of Western Pennsylvania's heritage. The designation differs from National Historic Landmarks, which are awarded by the U.S. Department of the Interior and recognize places for their significance as part of the United States' heritage.

“The building's over 100 years old, and they had to come out and verify that it was a historical landmark,” said Frank McGrogan, Dan McGrogan's brother and a member of the organization.

Dan McGrogan said the building's biggest need is a new roof, a problem “for the whole time the society's been here.”

However, his immediate focus is on stabilizing the organization and keeping it sustainable. He said the society has about eight active volunteers, a number he said needs to reach 50 for the organization to be successful. The organization has 130 members, many of whom live out of town.

“You hate to just shut the door,” McGrogan said. “My goal is just to try to get it up and running right (with) enough volunteers.”

In order to pay operating expenses, McGrogan is looking into fundraisers. Some of the proceeds from the Carnegie Democratic Club's May 5 pancake breakfast will benefit the historical society.

He also hopes to get the community interested in the historical society by holding an essay contest for students at Carnegie Elementary.

“The town has changed a lot,” McGrogan said. “From what I've heard talking to people, it's coming through somewhat of a revitalization, and it's needed. But even in that, you need to remember your history. Hopefully, we'll be here to help do that.”

Doug Gulasy is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-380-8527 or dgulasy@tribweb.com.

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