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Senator John Heinz History Center

Senator John Heinz History Center paranormal

Photo by: Marianne Donley
Location submitted by: sdonley on 11/17/2019
DBA Approved: Y

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PANICd#: 2117

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The Senator John Heinz History Center, an affiliate of the Smithsonian Institution, is the largest history museum in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, United States. Named after U.S. Senator H. John Heinz III from Pennsylvania.

1212 Smallman St
Pittsburgh , PA 15222
Phone: (412) 454-6000
Open to the public: Yes

Lat: 40.446259
Lon: -79.992661

Database Summary:

Demographic Rank: 6
History: 1
Stories: 1
Claims: 4
Evidence: 0
Resources: 6
Retrievals: 11446
Vistor Rating: 1.0
Votes: 1

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History information is some background and history about the location. This is meant to be a basic summary. Below the history records you will find sources in which you can click on to find out more information. There may be multiple history records per location.

The Senator John Heinz History Center traces its roots back to 1879, making it the oldest cultural institution in Western Pennsylvania.

In 1879, the Old Residents of Pittsburgh and Western Pennsylvania established a historical society to help preserve local history. Five years later, the name changed to the Historical Society of Western Pennsylvania and has been in continuous existence for more than 135 years.

Known now as the Senator John Heinz History Center, the museum system includes the Western Pennsylvania Sports Museum, the Thomas & Katherine Detre Library & Archives, the Fort Pitt Museum, Meadowcroft Rockshelter and Historic Village, and the Museum Conservation Center.

Originally, membership in the historical society was limited to men who had lived in the region for 50 years or more, though the rules changed within a few years to include women and younger people. In those days, members enjoyed lectures and country outings and got together to reminisce. Perhaps most importantly, early Historical Society members worked to preserve archival materials and objects of historic significance, forming the foundation of the History Center’s collections.

The Historical Society brought our region’s history to the public. In 1908, it celebrated the region’s 150th anniversary; in 1911, the centennial of steamboat navigation; in 1958, the region’s bicentennial celebration; and in 2008, the region’s 250th anniversary. These events served as the basis for the many events, publications, educational programs, and exhibitions that the History Center offers today.

Early meetings of the Historical Society were held in members’ homes and churches, though a significant step was taken in 1893 when the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh at Schenley Park offered space for the archives. In 1914, after securing the funding, the Historical Society built its own building on Bigelow Blvd. In 1996, the History Center moved into its current home in Pittsburgh’s Strip District.

Added by: sdonley on 11/27/2019 DB#:549


Stories are just that. Stories and personal accounts that have been reported about the location.

The Heinz History Center wasn’t always a museum.

In the late 1800s it was the “chilling” home to the Chautauqua Lake Ice Company.

“It’s always been a little bit cold. It’s always been a little bit creepy,” Heinz History Center President and CEO Andy Masich said.

Almost a dozen people were killed when the building exploded after a mishap involving the ammonia used to preserve the ice.

“People did tragically die here,” Masich said. “During the fire in 1898, 11 people were killed, others were injured when the walls collapsed.”

The company was rebuilt and since then, some historical figures who have met gruesome ends have moved in.

“You really do a double take when you see some of these,” Masich said.

Some of the guards, well, they’ve seen the unbelievable.

“After hours, our guards especially, or people who are here for evening events, they have seen some of those figures come to life,” Masich said.

That includes one particular soldier.

“As he was walking along, the pedestal was empty and he started looking around over here and then behind him he saw Martin Laquarney – one of Braddock’s men,” Masich said.

There are other rumors that a girl in raggedy clothes roams the floors of the history center and the sixth floor library.

“We hear creaks and groans, the occasional moan,” Masich said. “It was reported to me that someone could come through that gate there without it being unlocked.”

Paranormal experts who have visited the Heinz History Center rate the museum high on the paranormal scale— even recording whispers.

“There’s not supposed to be anyone here and yet it seems like there are voices,” Masich said.

Added by: sdonley on 11/27/2019 DB#:1543

Paranormal Claims

Here are the paranormal claims for this location. These have been found through Internet research, reports from members, or reports from personal interviews. To add a claim, please contact, and we will review and add your information.

Claim # Added Added By Claim
3220 11/27/2019 sdonley Figures have been known to move on their own.
3221 11/27/2019 sdonley Strange noises and footsteps have been reported when nobody else in the in the building.
3222 11/27/2019 sdonley The apparition of a little girl has been reported in the building.
3223 11/27/2019 sdonley Whispers and conversations have been recorded by investigators.

Paranormal Evidence

Paranormal evidence is based on claims that have been reported for this location. There can be several types of evidence; however, we have grouped them based on media type for better organization. Here you will find evidence that are logs, audio, video, or photographic.

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Additional Resources

This is a collection of Internet resources for this location. This section will house links to other websites that contain information related to history, claims, investigations, or even the location's website.

Heinz History Center wants to demolish a 148-year-old Strip District building
Added: 11/27/2019 By: mdonley
An 1870s-era Strip District building owned by Heinz History Center could face demolition, freeing up space for the museum to expand.
Learning About Pittsburgh's Significance at the Heinz History Center
Added: 11/27/2019 By: mdonley
Disclosure: This article may contain affiliate links. We will make a small commission from these links if you order something at no additional cost to you. Pennsylvania is chock full of many fantastic history museums.
Our Story
Added: 11/27/2019 By: mdonley
The Senator John Heinz History Center traces its roots back to 1879, making it the oldest cultural institution in Western Pennsylvania. In 1879, the Old Residents of Pittsburgh and Western Pennsylvania established a historical society to help preserve local history.
Collection Spotlight: Consolidated Ice Company Records
Added: 11/27/2019 By: mdonley
Consolidated Ice Company Records, 1814-1951, MSS 000                                             Extent:  11.5 linear ft. (12 boxes)
Senator John Heinz Regional History Center
Added: 11/27/2019 By: mdonley
Located in Pittsburgh’s historic Strip District, once the city’s manufacturing and shipping center along the Allegheny River, the History Center is an adaptive reuse project commissioned by the Historical Society of Western Pennsylvania, in affiliation with the Smithsonian Institution.
Ghosts Of Pittsburgh: Heinz History Center
Added: 11/27/2019 By: mdonley
With less than a to go until Halloween, we’re looking into some of the ghosts that may inhabit Pittsburgh’s landmarks. PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – The Heinz History Center is home to relics from our region’s rich history. But, many are convinced it’s holding even more within its walls.

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