Carnegie history society maven to be honored

| Wednesday, Feb. 26, 2014, 9:01 p.m.

Marcella McGrogan long has been known as Carnegie's preeminent local historian.

McGrogan directed the Historical Society of Carnegie that she and her husband, Dan, founded in 1990, and she helped to compile the borough's history for its centennial celebration in 1994.

She retired in 2013 and now, at age 89, has more time to relax. McGrogan will be honored for her efforts at a March 27 fundraiser kickoff for Carnegie's 120th anniversary at the Andrew Carnegie Free Library & Music Hall.

McGrogan said she appreciates the attention, and credits the historical society's board and other Carnegie residents for help in starting the house of history on West Main Street that continues to welcome visitors.

“There was so much history here and there,” McGrogan said. “Now, it's all together in one place.”

McGrogan started to work on writing the borough's history in 1988. Carnegie was formed when the boroughs of Mansfield and Chartiers, on either side of the Chartiers Creek, merged in 1894. Leaders named the new town after industrialist Andrew Carnegie, who built Carnegie High School and built and endowed the Andrew Carnegie Free Library & Music Hall.

The historical society displays donated items, including books, newspapers, wedding gowns and uniforms, she said. There also is a miniature version of Carnegie's Main Street.

“It's good to have things of that sort,” she said of the artifacts. “It shows young people how the town got started.”

The McGrogans raised 11 children in Carnegie. Five of them still live in the borough, or in communities close by.

Dan McGrogan died in 1999, and Marcella McGrogan continued to lead the organization. Her son Dan is now president of the historical society, and she said she occasionally misses the job.

“It was an excellent idea to honor her for all these years,” Dan McGrogan, a Mt. Lebanon resident, said of his mother. Carnegie Mayor Jack Kobistek and Maggie Forbes, executive director of the Andrew Carnegie Free Library & Music Hall, planned the salute.

“She was ferocious about preserving Carnegie's history,” Forbes said of McGrogan.

Dan McGrogan, 63, said he stepped into the historical society's leadership role after his mother stepped down, because he didn't want to “let 20-plus years go down the drain.

“I didn't want to lock the doors and shut it down.”

The organization had a few volunteers then, and didn't seem to have much of a future, he said, but it now has more than 150 dues-paying members.

“I want to get the community involved in the historical society and in the history of Carnegie itself,” McGrogan said. “It's very important for children to remember things in the past, and that people who are involved get credit for what they're doing.”

Dona S. Dreeland is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-388-5803 or

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