Tuesday, March 27, 2012

The Andrew Bayne Memorial Library

The Andrew Bayne Memorial Library is a public library in Bellevue, a suburb of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania in the United States. The library sits on a four-acre (1.6 ha) parcel of land donated to Bellevue borough in 1912 by the daughters of Allegheny County sheriff Andrew Bayne, and houses approximately 14,000 print volumes.

The historic building housing the library collection was once the home of Amanda Bayne Balph, the daughter of Andrew Bayne, the namesake of the library. Andrew Bayne was a member of the Pennsylvania Constitutional Convention of 1837-1838 and Sheriff of Allegheny County in 1838. His daughters, Amanda Balph and Jane Teece, bequeathed the homestead and 4 acres (16,000 m2) surrounding it to Bellevue Borough to be used as a library and park.

Amanda's husband, James Madison Balph, was a prominent architect of Allegheny County, and designed and built the Victorian-style home in 1875. There is a marble fireplace in each room of the house, and James Balph's initials are engraved in the glass transom over the front door. Mrs. Balph, widowed in 1899, lived on in the large white house until her death in August 1912, when it became borough property.

In May 1914, a library committee announced the opening of two rooms in the old home for use as a library. Walkways were laid out, and in 1916, a swimming pool was built in the southernmost part of the park. (The pool has since been removed and a basketball court built in its place.) The upstairs rooms were cleaned and furnished in the early 1920s by a group of women called the Bellevue Federation, who also built tennis courts on the property.

On Memorial Day 1927, the borough formally dedicated the park and library to the citizens of Bellevue.

Today, Andrew Bayne Memorial Library is accompanied by a park. This park has playground equipment for children and a large field that is often used to play football and ultimate frisbee. Next to the field is the Jim Porch Gazebo that is reserved for parties, picnics, and family gatherings. During the summer, the Library hosts movies and concerts on Wednesday evenings. Throughout the year, the Library offers children's activities and various holiday celebrations.

According to The World's Most Haunted Places by Jeff Belanger, there have been sporadic accounts of a female "ghostly presence" at the Andrew Bayne Memorial Library for decades. The spirit, identified with Amanda Bayne Balph, allegedly began making herself heard especially since the deterioration of the Lone Sentinel elm.

When neither Amanda nor Jane provided heirs to the Bayne property and agreed to turn over their father's land to the borough, they added four stipulations: that the surrounding streets be named "Balph" and "Teece," the mansion be used as a library, the 4-acre (16,000 m2) estate not be developed, and the estate's elm trees not be removed. Throughout the 1900s, all the elm trees perished from Dutch elm disease. Suffering the loss of a large branch in a 1998 windstorm, the Lone Sentinel had to be removed for fear of it falling on nearby buildings. The library director said the ghost "seemed to be very active right around the time that our Lone Sentinel was dying".

Visitors have reported seeing a woman in the window wearing a large hat when the library was closed, and the ghost is also allegedly prone to playing with light switches, ceiling fans, and the library's computers

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