A former owner is tickled pink at the resulting
library, but is upset with lack of a favorite outside item.
This friendly presence now stays with a weakness for modern items.
The Andrew Bayne Memorial Library is located in a stately 1875 Victorian brick mansion with yellow wooden decor. Tom and I went inside to visit, and look around. The city has done a good job keeping the inside in good shape, though the wooden trim around the windows on the outside need some TLC.
The front door faces south, with a view of the playground. It has the customary Victorian porch. Off the central hallway, to the left is the check-out desk in this parlor, with a lovely fireplace, that has a picture of Amanda Bayne Balph hanging on the wall above it. The parlor on the right also has a lovely fireplace, with a picture of Andrew Bayne hanging on the wall above. Victorian windows are large and the decor suggests that this was a beautiful home when the Balphs lived here.
The mahogany wood staircase starts over by the side entrance, and leads up to more books in the bedrooms, and a story time area for the children.
Andrew Bayne was a farmer, whose farm house once stood on the corner of what is now Teece and Balph Avenues. Andrew was a man of some importance. He attended the Constitutional Convention of 1837-’38, and was sheriff of Allegheny County until 1840, when he married the love of his life, Mary Anne Mathews. They lived in his farm house on his 4 acres of land. They had two daughters, Jane and Amanda, in the 1840s. In 1870, Andrew generously offered to give each of his daughters land to build their own homes.
When Amanda married an architect, James Madison Balph, James designed their dream mansion that Amanda just adored. Besides the lovely mahogany wood and lovely decor details, she has plenty of room for her books, lovely large windows to see all the elm trees and the views of nature.
While both sisters married, neither of them had any heirs. So, under 4 conditions, spelled out in the agreement with the city, they decided to will their land and Amanda’s home to the city of Bellevue. The surrounding streets would be named Balph and Teese ( the sister’s married names), Amanda’s mansion would be used as a library, the land would be undeveloped and used as a park for the people, and that all the elms, Amanda’s favorite tree, would be untouched. Especially important to her was the very old Elm tree, around 200+ years old when she was alive. It was called The Lone Sentinel, the largest elm tree, east of the Mississippi.
After James Balph died around the turn of the century, Amanda lived alone in her big mansion, with her friends and her treasured trees to keep her company. She loved people, and was a caring person. She also loved nature and her elm trees. Her second floor bedroom is the one that overlooks the parking lot. Amanda died in her bedroom in 1912, and the city took ownership of their land and mansion.
The city, throughout the years, followed faithfully the promises they made to the sisters. The library was established in the mansion, and called The Andrew Bayne Memorial Library. At first, just the books of Amanda and Jane made up the selection of books available, a great start for a library. More books were added as the years rolled on. Until the city had enough material and books to fill the whole mansion, they rented out the second floor and the attic to tenants.
Unfortunately, all the elm trees, including The Lone Sentinel, succumbed to Dutch Elm Disease, as of 1998. Playground equipment and other amenities for the park were added, which the people who enjoy the park truly appreciate.
HISTORY OF MANIFESTATIONS
Sometimes entities have so many wonderful memories of their home, that they stick around to not only enjoy their home, but continue to be the host/hostess in their afterlife, enjoying visitors, and sometimes let the living know that they are in this world as well.
A warm, welcoming presence, thought to be Amanda has been felt and has been making contact with the living throughout the years.
Sometimes entities become concerned when their special possessions that they loved in this world aren’t still as pristine as they once were, or are changed despite their wishes.
Although the entity of Amanda has always made her presence known in her mansion, she became very active, after the 300+ year old,110 ft. tree, The Lone Sentinel became sick with Dutch elm disease in the 1990s”, and had to be taken down in 1998, because of its weakened condition, showing signs of falling down soon.
The Spirit of Amanda Bayne Balph:
She has been positively identified by the library staff and visitors, who have seen her, because she looks just like her picture, hanging on the wall.
One librarian told Jeff Ballenger that she saw her in a reflection of a window.
Jeff also reports that people pulling into the parking lot know when the library is closed, when they see a lady, wearing a bonnet, looking out the second story window of what was her room.
The Friendly Spirit
Amanda has been a friendly spirit, who lets the living know she is present, assuring them that the deal she made with the city still stands.
Librarians who find themselves alone have heard foot steps on the floor above them.
Other staff members have experienced lights turning on and off by themselves, and lights turning off after they have turned them on.
During Children’s story time, the ceiling fan was turned on by unseen hands. Staff interpreted this as a sign that she enjoys children being there.
Amanda, it is thought, likes to play with the library’s computers. She especially likes to punch up numbers.
Missing books suddenly reappear on the shelves.
A huge PROBABLY SO!
So many people have seen her, and had personal experiences, that it is only a matter of time until hard evidence is gathered and shared. Though not much hard evidence has been shared with the public on line, Televisions crews, psychics and paranormal investigators have been flocking here to investigate.
34 North Balph Avenue
Bellevue, PA 15202
The Andrew Bayne Memorial Library can be found in a suburb, north of Pittsburgh, called Bellevue, located west of 279. The Victorian mansion sits in the middle of a large 4 acre park; the entire estate of the Bayne family.
- The Word’s Most Haunted Places by Jeff Belanger
Career Press, 2004
Our Haunted Paranormal Stories are Written by Julie Carr