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Friday, March 25, 2011

The Congelier Mansion

Once the home of Charles Wright Congelier, his wife Lyda and a servant named Essie was located in the northern area of Manchester in Pittsburgh, PA. During the winter months of 1871 Lyda discovered the terrible secret that her husband was having an affair with Essie. According to the homes history, In a fit of rage she stabbed her husband to death, and cut off Essie's head.

For the next 20 years the home sat vacant, until 1892 when it was used to accommodate railroad workers who moved out only a few short months claiming to have heard the noises of a woman sobbing, or sometimes screaming throughout the night.
Around the year of 1900 the home was purchased by a Doctor by the name of Adolph C. Brunrichter who was described by neighbors as a man who kept to himself and was rarely ever seen. Until the night of August 12, 1901 when in the middle of the night neighbors heard a blood curdling scream come from the house. Neighbors Richard Winer & Nancy Osbourn claimed to have seen red lights flashing through the house and the ground beneath them shook, until they saw all the windows in the home shatter. When officials entered the house to investigate, they found a decomposed female body strapped to the bed and five headless young women in basement graves. "Dr. Brunrichter had been experimenting with severed heads," wrote Winer and Osborn. "Apparently he had been able to keep some alive for short periods after decapitation." Dr. Brunrichter, meanwhile, had disappeared, and the house once again stood vacant.

With the home's bad reputation, it stood vacant again for several years before taking on a second remodeling. This time it was to be used as housing for emigrant Equitable Gas Company workers.The workers had many odd occurrences they experienced throughout their stay but brushed it off as the American workers pulling pranks because they were taking the same jobs at a lower wage. One night however two of the workers were found dead in the basement of the home, one was hanging from a rafter, the other had a piece of wood driven through his chest. Both men had been seen alive and well just moments prior to their gruesome deaths.

Thomas Edison
In 1920, the famous scientist and inventor, Thomas Edison, came to study the house. Edison spoke of a machine that he was building to allow communication with the dead. Edison died before the mechanism was perfected. Winer and Osborn wrote that Thomas Edison's visit to the house at 1129 Ridge Avenue apparently influenced his strong belief in the afterlife.

In September of 1927, a drunk was arrested who claimed to be Dr. Adolph Brunrichter. He told police gruesome stories of sex orgies, demonic possession, torture and murder that had occurred in the house. The authorities could not determine if the man they had in custody was indeed Dr. Brunrichter. The man was released after a month and was never seen again.

Everyone in the area was convinced the home was evil or was itself possessed was destroyed on the night of November 15, 1927 when one of the gas storage tanks exploded which force was felt around the county. As workers of the Writers' Program of the Works Projects Administration actually described the scene in their words. "As houses collapsed and chimneys toppled, brick, broken glass, twisted pieces of steel and other debris rained on the heads of the dazed and shaken residents who had rushed into the streets from their wrecked homes, believing that an earthquake had visited the city."

The force was so strong it reportedly blew out windows throughout downtown, Mt. Washington, and as far away as East Liberty. Dozens of manufacturing plants and hundreds of homes were damaged or destroyed within a 20-mile radius.The Most Haunted House in America, which once stood at the present day site of the Route 65/I279 interchange, was obliterated in the explosion. According to Winer and Osborn, it was the only structure destroyed in the blast for which no trace was ever found.

The same day as the explosion a relative of the original owner Marie Congelier died. According to newspapers she was hit by shattered glass from the explosion and bled to death before making it to a hospital.

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