Monday, October 3, 2011

Book Heaven—Trans Allegheny Books (Haunt Brief)

725 Green Street
Parkersburg, West Virginia

I’d like to introduce a new feature here at Southern Spirit Guide, the “Haunt Brief.” Since I started this blog, I’ve been looking for a way to feature more locations, especially those that I don’t have tons of information on and can’t quite explore as in depth as I’d like to. I’ve never been happy with the “Newsbyte” feature, so I’m retiring it and replacing it with this.

Parkersburg Carnegie Library, formerly Trans Allegheny Books, 2010. Photo by Richie Diesterheft, licensed under Creative Commons 2.0.

Trans Allegheny Books truly sounds like heaven. A two-story former library, the building was crammed with some 500,000 volumes of used books with particular concentration on books relating to West Virginia and Appalachia. Until it closed just about this time last year, it was the largest bookstore in the state and a veritable tourist attraction in the region. Unfortunately, it was not to last.

The store was opened by Joe Sakach, a businessman with a passion for books and history, in the mid-1980s. The store flourished in the edifice on Green Street until the death of Mr. Sakach in April of last year. Upon his death the store was closed until his estate was settled by his children. They decided to sell the institution and a huge three-day sale was held in October, the store’s last dying breath.

The store is now a ghost along with the apparitions that lurked around its shelves while in operation. According to Theresa Racer in her marvelous blog on the ghosts of the Tri-State area (West Virginia, Ohio and Kentucky), Theresa’s Haunted History of the Tri-State, there are four distinct human and possibly three feline apparitions experienced within the century-old building. A small girl has been seen sitting on the magnificent iron stairs in the center of the building who sometimes may trip up patrons. A dapperly dressed man has been seen on the second floor and he may possibly be the same man seen browsing through the world history section. A female spirit may be that of a local newspaper reporter who was violently stabbed to death but who now returns to a place that she considered a second home. The bookstore is home to living cats but possibly three feline apparitions have also been seen. All of these spirits may be the origins of other paranormal activity including disembodied footsteps, flickering lights, shadow figures and books that move from their shelves.

After its original function as a Carnegie Library, the building’s use as a bookstore is certainly the most appropriate use for the Neo-classical structure. Philanthropist Andrew Carnegie, who built magnificent libraries throughout the nation, presented Parkersburg with a gift of $34,000 to build a library. It opened in 1905 and served the area until 1975. The building was used briefly as a restaurant but that was unsuccessful. It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1982 and it appears it is currently unused.

A story from WCHS ABC 8 in Charleston, West Virginia, provides a marvelous glimpse inside the bookstore.

Sources
     Encyclopedia. Accessed 3 October 2011.
Kurtz, David. National Register of Historic Places Nomination form for
   Carnegie Library. 20 August 1979.
Mancini, Jess. “Trans Allegheny Books closing.” The Marietta Times.
     6 October 2010.
Murphy, Jody. “Trans Allegheny Books continues to be closed.”
     Parkersburg News and Sentinel. 20 June 2010.
Racer, Theresa. “Trans-Allegheny Bookstore, Parkersburg.” Theresa’s
     Haunted History of the Tri-State. 23 May 2011.

1 comment:

  1. It is sad how many book stores are forced to close in the face of giants like B&N. That looks like a beautiful store with and interesting history and ghosts too. It is a shame it had to become a ghost itself.

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