Congelier Mansion, real or not?
Congelier Mansion has been touted as one of the “most haunted homes” in the United States, located in Pittsburgh, that remains to be seen however as the information available does not quite meet up with many of the tales of the home. However a good ghost story is a good ghost story and even if only partial true it is still amazingly ghoulish and therefore attracts those who pursue paranormal activity.
The story begins when a man named Charles W. Congelier decided to leave Texas and travel up the river with his wife Lyda and their servant girl Essie. When the boat they were traveling on stopped in the port at Pittsburgh, Congelier liked the look of the place and decided to stay. Congelier bought a lot that overlooked the point where the Allegheny and Monongahela Rivers meet to continue on as the Ohio River. The beautiful brick mansion was completed in 1869 and Congelier became a respected member of the local business community and was also known for his lavish parties at his hilltop mansion.
Everything went rather smoothly until about two years after the mansions completion when Congelier decided that with a home this large he could indulge himself in wanton activity without fear of reprisal. He would be terribly wrong. Several months later his wife was to discover her husband and her trusted maid having a torrid affair and what does Lyda do? She kills them of course, and not in a very ladylike manor as she put a meat cleaver partially through the skull of her husband Charles and then also stabs him 30 times for good measure. Not to be forgotten of course is the maid, Essie; she is stabbed repeatedly and beheaded.
As the story goes a neighbor drops by several days later to find the front door unlocked and a creaking noise coming from the parlor, in the parlor he finds Lyda rocking away in her beloved rocking chair holding what appears to be a baby wrapped in a pink blanket. The neighbor curious as the Congelier’s have no children asks to view the child and what does he discover but Essie’s face staring back up at him. Mrs. Congelier is of course arrested and found to be deranged so she spends the rest of her days in a mental facility. But wait there is so much more to the story!
In 1892 the house was remodeled to be used as accommodations for railway workers. The men never stayed long and one curious supervisor finally started asking why and was regaled with tales of an apparition screaming on the stairs, cold drafts and what sounded like a creaking rocking chair. Also reported were shadow figures moving about the parlor, voices mumbling and an immense amount of large thudding noises emanating from the second floor. By 1895 the home was again abandoned.
In 1900 the home was purchased by a Dr. Adolph Brunrichter, to be used as his home. The doctor was not a social animal and was rarely seen outside of his practice and apparently did not employ any servants which a single man of his station should have had in that day. His neighbors report the good doctor was quiet and kept to himself. In August of 1901 an explosion rocked the Congelier house and the surrounding neighbors, shattering windows, cracking sidewalks and emitting large amounts of billowing smoke. The explosion seemed to come from the Congelier house itself and curious neighbors began to gather but were reluctant to enter for fear of another explosion. Once the police and firemen arrived and entered the place a horror show greeted them. Upstairs it appears the good doctor had transformed many of the bedrooms into laboratories and was going about doing his own version of the “Frankenstein” experiments.
Found in these makeshift labs were the rotting corpses of women, minus their heads. A total of five women’s bodies were found and thankfully their heads were also found two being in the laboratories upstairs and three in the basement, buried. Dr. Brunrichter was not found. Again the house would remain empty for several years until it was bought by the Equitable Gas Co. the company wanted the mansion to house its foreign workers.
These men, mostly of Italian descent experienced many of the things that had happened earlier to the railway workers but their fears were put to rest temporarily by the assurances that the noises heard were just pranks being played by the American workers that they replaced. Until one evening when all 14 of the men were gathered in the dining area enjoying their pasta and wine and two of them started to clear the table. After several minutes the brother of one of the men went to look for his brother in the kitchen and found no one, but the basement door was ajar. The brother then makes his way down the rickety stair case and finds his brother hanging from the rafters while the other man has been impaled upon a piece of board, which is protruding out of his chest and back.
It is reported by the police that the first man slipped on the stairs and thus became impaled on the board while the other man somehow got tangled in wires that were not secured properly and hung himself. No one questioned why the two men were in the basement to begin with when they were clearing dishes from the table and supposed to return to the dining room, the Italian workers fled the home and again it sat abandoned never to be used again.
True or not, a fascinating story, but is that all it is? I know of several people that claim the timing is wrong, the records don’t show these people at this time, and the area it supposedly happened in either doesn’t exist or was an industrial area. I love a good ghost story and whether or not it is true, I enjoyed hearing about it and writing about it. I hope you enjoyed it to!
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