by Mike Wisneski, Collections and Gallery Manager
Years ago, when I worked as a security guard, patrons would occasionally ask about the Museum’s founder. Their questions revealed that the general public’s knowledge of Dr. Everhart was limited to three or four half-remembered stories. What seemed to be known about Dr. Everhart is: 1) he may have at one time lived in the Museum; 2) he definitely at one point fell down some stairs in the Museum; 3) this fall may have killed him; 4) his ghost definitely haunts the Museum.
The reality behind the death of Dr. Everhart suggests there are some kernels of truth behind an incident that has passed into urban legend. For the 43 years that Dr. Everhart lived in Scranton, he made his home at 135 Franklin Avenue, near the corner of Spruce Street. His home was demolished long ago and on its former site is the parking lot for the city’s unemployment office. In 1907, shortly after he announced his gift of a museum to Scranton, Dr. Everhart suffered a stroke that paralyzed his right side. Though in frail health, he had recovered sufficiently to attend the Museum’s dedication and oversee the installation of his collection in its new home.
On April 12, 1911, Dr. Everhart fell while visiting his museum. This event was reported on the front page of the Scranton Republican: “Dr. Everhart, who gave the Museum to the city, slipped and fell on the floor, receiving a fractured right hip…Dr. Everhart’s physician says that he does not consider that the injury is serious, and he expects his patient will be able to leave his bed in a few weeks.” The injury, however, turned out to be more serious than reported and was complicated by the fact that Everhart “refused for some days to allow the surgeon to set the broken hip. The result was that the affected hip did not heal as rapidly as it would.” He ultimately would not recover from this injury and died at home on May 26, 1911.
So there you have it. Our Museum Mythbusters report: Dr. Everhart never lived in the Museum. He did, in fact, fall in the Museum, but it doesn’t seem as though stairs were involved. The fall seems to have hastened his death. As to whether his spirit haunts the Museum, no one currently on staff has had any supernatural encounters.