The purportedly haunted 3504 Charlotte Street.

    The purportedly haunted 3504 Charlotte Street.

    The streets of Lawrenceville are filled with tales of horror and heroism, tears and laughter, triumph and tragedy. Charlotte Street is among those, haunted by a particularly grisly history.

    Although the street’s name is officially pronounced just like the female name Charlotte, locals often pronounce it SHAR-lot-tee. It runs parallel to Butler and Smallman streets, from 34th to 38th streets.

    Newspaper report (July 21, 1951) of Yugoslavian immigrant Bert Pezich’s suicide; Pezich lived at 3504 Charlotte Street.

    Newspaper report (July 21, 1951) of Yugoslavian immigrant Bert Pezich’s suicide; Pezich lived at 3504 Charlotte Street.

    Yugoslavian immigrant Bert Pezich lived at 3504 Charlotte Street. He promised to bring his mother to America, but she died before Bert could fulfill his promise. Depressed after his mother’s passing, in his mid-50s he talked about committing suicide. On July 20, 1951, he was found dead at the base of the 40th Street Bridge. The coroner was not able to determine whether he took his own life or if he was mugged and thrown off the bridge. His house has been said to be haunted—with doors that open and close on their own and lights that mysteriously turn on and off.

    Eddie Leedy was a young boy when he was playing near the second-story window at 3405 Charlotte Street. He fell to his death in March 1898.

    Richard Wilkenson was living at number 3609 in January 1903. His family was clueless as to why the 71-year-old man jumped from his second-floor window to his death.

    The Lawrence School of 1908; it closed in 1939.

    The Lawrence School of 1908; it closed in 1939.

    The Lawrence School was located at number 3701. Originally built in 1872 as an elementary school, it was rebuilt in 1908, damaged by a fire in 1912, and closed in 1939. While serving as the Gas-Lite Manufacturing Company, the structure was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1986. The following year a second fire destroyed the top two floors. The company’s owner, Charles Brown III, intended to rebuild the floors, but found it would not be economically feasible. Brown died in 1999. His home in O’Hara Township was turned into the Bayernhof Music Museum.

    John J. Maloney’s house at number 3710 is no longer standing, having been replaced by a newer home that uses the same address. Maloney was struck by a train in 1903. His violent death is not the only one to occur to people living at that address. A boy named Bobby Johnston lived there; he was struck by a hit-and-run driver in March 1946.

    William Johnston, who might have been Bobby’s father, was found dead on 37th Street in March 1948, almost two years to the day after Bobby died. The coroner initially reported that William was beaten to death. His wife was sure it was communists who attacked him, since her husband was a very vocal anti-communist.

    The log house that stood on the corner of 38th and Charlotte streets was the home of Catherine Burkhart, who worked at the Allegheny Arsenal during the Civil War.  Catherine was killed during the fateful day of September 17, 1862, when three explosions rocked the military establishment. She was one of 78 people who died in that accident—the worst civilian disaster of the war. (The Lawrenceville Historical Society tried to save the house but was not able to raise the necessary funds.)

    Two people identified only as Mary and Sean were said to have lived on Charlotte Street, near 38th. Sean was a heavy drinker and an abusive husband, who frequently beat his wife. On the following day he would beg her forgiveness, give her a small gift, and make an empty promise to quit drinking. Although he squandered most of his pay on alcohol, he always made sure that he gave her money to go bowling, since it was her favorite pastime.

    One day Sean came home early after being fired for punching his boss. Sean was particularly violent that day. He told her that he would never again give her money for bowling. After punching her in the mouth and banging her head against the sink, he went to the bedroom and quickly fell asleep.

    That night Mary walked up 38th Street yelling, “That mean drunk isn’t going to stop me from bowling.” When she reached Butler Street, she rolled her ball down the street and repeatedly yelled “Strike” until the police came. It was then discovered that the ball she rolled down the street was Sean’s head, which she had severed with a hatchet. After that incident, Lawrenceville residents gave her the nickname “Hatchet Mary.”

    Charlotte Street is filled with tragic tales. The saddest part of it all is that only the story of Hatchet Mary proved not to be true—it’s an urban legend.

    Jude Wudarczyk has coauthored four books on Lawrenceville history. His articles have been published in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, local newsletters, and websites, as well as in The Strip! magazine and international journals.