Civil War Room

Espy Post Hours: Ongoing tours on Saturdays between 11:00am and 3:00pm. Free and open to the public. Call for weekday appointments.

The Capt. Thomas Espy Post 153 of the Grand Army of the Republic served local Civil War veterans for over 54 years and is the best preserved and most intact GAR post in the United States. For school, scout, group or family tours contact Diane Klinefelter, Curator 412-276-3456, x9.

Annual Civil War Living History Day is April 16, 2016

Annual Civil War Living History Day

Join us for our  Annual Civil War Living History Day! Programming focuses on the 150th Anniversary of the founding of the Grand Army of the Republic. Activities include the Lincoln Gallery of photographs, ongoing tours of the Capt. Thomas Espy Post, lectures, re-enactors, encampments and drills, tours of Chartiers Cemetery, crafters and sutlers.  Programming is made possible through generous funding from the Massey Charitable Trust. Limited parking at the library. Use the free shuttle from the Main Street parking lot (across from Carnegie Coffee). Check back here later for a detailed itinerary of the day’s activities.

Espy Post: A True National Treasure

The Andrew Carnegie Free Library & Music Hall is home to a true national treasure: the Capt. Thomas Espy Post No. 153 of the Grand Army of the Republic (GAR).  The Espy Post is one of a half dozen most intact GAR posts in the country.  To put that number in perspective, there were over 6,000 GAR posts across the United States in the late 19th century.

In 1906 members of the Espy Post signed a charter with Library trustees. Local veterans of that war used the room from 1906 until the mid-1930s for meetings and to house their collection of flags, books, prints and relics. When the Thomas Espy Post of the Grand Army of the Republic ceased operations, the Civil War Room was locked and left undisturbed for 50 years.  The room suffered from water damage, mold, mildew and neglect.  However, it became a virtual time capsule.

Not only does it house invaluable artifacts, but the room itself provides a unique historical record of the first part of the century.

ACFL&MH Acquires Rare Collection of Lincoln Photographs

This collection of 100 photographs of Abraham Lincoln ranges from an 1847 daguerreotype to the only known photograph of Lincoln in his coffin, taken April 24, 1865.  The original photographs were taken by Mathew Brady, Alexander Gardner and Alexander Hesler among others. The Lincoln Gallery opened on February 16, 2015 and is free and open to the public during regular Library hours. 

Espy Docent Program

If you have an interest in Civil War history, good communication skills, and an outgoing personality, consider volunteering as a docent for the Espy Post Room. Our docents lead observation and inquiry based experiences for visitors to foster an understanding of the Grand Army of the Republic and its place in history. If you are interested, please contact Diane Klinefelter, Curator, 412-276-3456, x9.

The Grand Army of the Republic

The Grand Army of the Republic (GAR) was formed on April 6, 1866 in Decatur, Illinois. What started as a benevolent society for Union Civil War veterans quickly became one of our nation’s most powerful veterans’ organizations.  Membership was open to honorably discharged Union soldiers, sailors, or marines.

Between 1880 and 1885, membership in the Grand Army rose from 60,000 to 270,000. By 1900 there were  6,928 posts nationwide and almost half a million members. The GAR was instrumental in founding soldiers’ homes and orphan schools, and lobbying for pension legislation. The last member of the GAR died in 1955 and the organization was dissolved. Records of these posts can be found in numerous repositories across the country. Today the Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War continue the traditions and preserve the memories of the GAR.  The Espy Post housed in the Andrew Carnegie Free Library & Music Hall is believed to one of only a handful of intact GAR Post rooms in the country.

The Capt. Thomas Espy Post 153, Department of Pennsylvania

A charter was granted in December 1879 to a group of local veterans living in the Mansfield and Chartiers  area (Carnegie did not come into existence until 1894). The post was named in honor of Thomas Espy, a prominent resident of Upper St. Clair Township. He was 50 years of age when he enlisted July 4, 1861, as Captain of Co. H, 62nd Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry.

Over the years the veterans met at various locations in Carnegie. As the veterans aged, however, discussion arose as to what would become of their flags, books, and relics when the last member of the Post passed on. A committee was formed to meet with the Library Commission to explore use of a room on the second floor of the building.  On January 8, 1906 the Articles of Agreement between the Post and the Library were signed.  While the room was provided rent free, the Post paid for heat, light and janitor services. In addition they had wall cases and cabinets built to house their many artifacts. The Articles of Agreement stipulated that “when the Post ceased to exist, the contents of the room would become the property of the Library to preserve and protect for all time.”

The Post was used for meetings and to house the veterans’ collection of flags, books, prints and relics from 1906 until the the last veteran died in 1937. Not only does it retain invaluable artifacts, but it provides a unique historical record of the first part of the century. If you are interested in becoming a volunteer docent, please contact the library.