February 17, 2018

First Carnegie Public Library Damaged by Lightning Strike

By LJ Staff

The first public library funded by Andrew Carnegie remains closed after a bolt of lightning on April 7 at 8:15 p.m. struck and demolished the building’s granite clock tower. Fortunately, the Allegheny Regional branch of the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh was closed at the time. "The lightning rod did its job," said library spokesperson Suzanne Thinnes, by taking the brunt of the strike, but the force was so strong that large chunks of the tower broke apart and exploded. A 1700-pound piece crashed through the roof into the boiler room. The concrete floor stopped its descent but it destroyed the library’s HVAC systems. A larger 4000-pound chunk fell through two stories and landed in the children’s department, causing minor damage. Thinnes estimated overall damage in the millions and, though the collection is intact, the large amounts of dust may have harmed computers. The 1890 building is owned by the City of Pittsburgh. Library staffers have been reassigned and officials are looking for a replacement facility.