An Honorable Mention
Folks, this is going out to the 'Grand Army Of The Republic' Post 209 of the Civil War Era and named well, after the old Colonel. Ellsworth Park started in May of 1881. This is where genealogical material originated for my great, great, grandfather who participated in 20 battles and I am told, like many local veterans, was involved in the re-enactments staged here well into the 1900's and these proved very popular. Now wouldn't it be something if the community could muster such a spectacle once again. How many would love to be a part of that? Frankly, I'm still searching for more information on this special time and place. Sadly, the Park is long gone the way of many good things, having served it's purpose.
I haven't got round to a photo close to there yet, but did want to upload this particular post before spring arrived! Every time I travel into town I somehow manage to forget my camera or, I am just plain distracted by something else. Well, it would be proper to add here that any further input would be greatly appreciated.
And how about this dough boy's story ?
What eventually became the borough of Scottdale was named after the industrialist and railroader, Col. Thomas A. Scott, President of the Pennsylvania Railroad and an Assistant Secretary of the War Department for the United States. The year was 1874. Previously it was known as 'Fountain Mills'.
In Scottdale, in East Huntingdon township, 35 Miles south of Pittsburgh, (according to some, as much as 48 miles!). It is 12 miles south of the county seat of Greensburg. There were settlements here as early as the late 1700's, many of them of Scotch-Irish ancestry and eventually a fairly large German population. This is called the Allegheny Plateau region of the Laurel Highlands; hope that makes things clear.
By the mid-1800's the community began to develop with the selling of lots from the farmer Peter Loucks' descendants. An earlier settler, John Sterrett, acquired a lot of land and by 1786 was said to be visited south of here by none other than, Daniel Boone! Also, a tract was owned by one Mr. Galloway prior to 1801 much of this related according to the Scottdale Historical Society. They do have a Facebook page.
This foresight of the Loucks family lead to layouts of the early part of the town. The Jacob Loucks house on the corner of South Chestnut and Market Street, circa 1853, is considered the oldest house there. There are other Loucks houses in the neighborhood as well.
|Jacob Loucks house|
The Lawrence Keister house at 1005 Loucks Ave is a brick prairie dwelling built in 1895. The Church of Christ at 513 is of Queen Anne /Colonial revival style with stained glass beveled windows and the main façade originates from 1895. At 602, the W. E. Stauffer house with fluted columns and rusticated lintels is from that year. The A. K. Stauffer Queen Anne house at 701 with interesting corner towers and outbuilding, hails from 1880. The house at 804 has it's original windows, a bit of a rarity.
As is usual, there were various mills, iron works and a distillery, (from Old and New Westmoreland Vol.2 by John N. Boucher, 1918), and much more that would take plenty of space to enumerate, but will make mention of what we can here. There was suppose to be a Post Office near Fountain Mill Road, but am not positive that the location is confirmed.
The town became official in 1874 with the nucleus of what it would be in it's heyday. The railroads had two branches here that went scurrying through the busy town, bringing with it the creations of many businesses, attracting industrialists like H. C. Frick and the Brennan's and opportunists that included gold and silver refining, the United States Coffin factory, mills like the Keister ones; the Scott Furnace Co., Crescent Manufacturing, and the list just goes on. Once again the place has it's rail station intact, close to the original one where Sheets Store resides today:
|Southwest Pennsylvania train|
|Scottdale Train Station|
The Scottdale Foundry, (and Machine Co.), was hard at work making their fittings by the early 1900's and the buildings are still there on the other side of Everson Bridge,
as are many of the older ones along Broadway. There was the Seaman's building here where a lot of big business was taken care of, built, circa 1915. The Frick Coke office was going back to 1887 on South Broadway, with a pyramidal roof and large dormers. Uptegraff Manufacturing were here too, once a company of William H. Everson, as early as 1880.
Much of this info is coming from memory and a few seasoned residents, so I hope there isn't any mistakes; let me know if any are spotted. Near the old Loucks farmstead is what was Central Grade of S. Chestnut. It also use to be the Scottdale High School, (where my mom went for a few years and I did from fourth to sixth grade, therefore the obvious name), is of colonial revival, 1920. The Scottdale Armory of N. Broadway, designed in 1929 by Joseph Kuntz, a major architect from Pittsburgh's Natrona heights, who specialized in this type of building, is of particular significance for the area. I might add, hesitantly, but yet, interestingly, for those that relish in this sort of thing, is reputed to be haunted. The opinion could be added that it is a real shame many of these buildings are only being kept from demolition by the historic meaning they once held, and have little to do with keeping or bringing jobs to this borough. That is not to be taking away from the honorable preservation and restoration of such, truly an important undertaking.
I doubt we can hardly imagine just what it was like to realize the wealth the place once possessed with the West Penn trolleys travelling around the old cars on the yellow and red brick streets. This was also the busy major artery of the H. C. Frick conglomerate for some time, as the coal and coke industry really took off. He actually had his main offices here for some time. And there is what is left of the commercial areas of Pittsburgh St, ( the Main Street), too.
Here you see the main Pittsburgh Street with the Geyer Performing Arts Center at the old Strand Theatre on the left and a few of the old Commercial buildings:
Doesn't it seem as at least some consolation to observe the modern train station running? Note the continuing presence of the Duraloy Technologies manufacturing special types of steel work near Kifertown, across Jacob's Creek at the Fayette/Westmoreland border. This was the National Foundry and Pipe Works. Technically there is plant A and plant B. Much of the machine shops and foundry were built in 1890; other parts, like the offices were laid out in 1900, with areas as the pattern and material storage were built in the mid-1970's. Other businesses are nearby also. Some of the rather historic brick buildings are pretty old, dating back as far as 1900 and even 1880. Oppman's Auto Parts was once the wash house for the Sheet and Tin Plate Company.
This might not be the place for details related to side issues, but that village which, by the way, you might be curious to know, with what became Kifertown, where the grist mill and distillery once were, and Kingview, the homestead of the old Stauffer tract. This began by the land purchases of the patriarch and Mennonite pastor Abraham Stauffer, among some other pioneering settlers. He was the man who started that branch of his family. Maybe that statement is somewhat redundant. They became quite the industrialists. He bought much of the Everson area and, later, what is known as Kingview and the Dexter area, while his son John developed the Dexter Mines and coke ovens which were along Jacob's Creek as were others, (Painter Works, Diamond, McClure), etc. Now, I am planning to have a separate article one of these days on Kingview and Iron Bridge if I feel anyone is interested. (That means comment! ...ah, so please do).
In the heart of Scottdale, up Pittsburgh Street a ways there is the old W. H.Clingerman house, (Superintendent of the Frick Coke Company), and he has a Memorial bench in the Scottdale Cemetery and there is the Keister place:
When we were kids, it wasn't actually occupied, and teenagers played around the grounds as well as inside it. It reminded people more of the traditional haunted house with the big portrait on the mantle, that was probably of Mr. Keister himself, surrounded by old candles with chilly drafts roaming down the old corridors into spacious rooms with covered furniture. Many nooks, and, yes, those crannies, made for an eerie visit added to a youthful imagination. Kids those days, maybe weren't aware they were, technically trespassing and it seemed there was the rougher element causing the occasional broken window, and that is unfortunate.
Now there were the Charlotte and coke ovens on Jacob's Creek bank near Everson and, as mentioned elsewhere, the Iron Works with many nearby mines in the surrounding areas which, hopefully, we'll look into with a further update. Still, it has been said on good authority, the basic area had roughly three thousand coke ovens here and there were as many as 18,000 in the surrounding Connellsville coal patch fields and towns altogether. That is a bunch.
Another place to take a small walk could be past Arthur Avenue heading toward Chestnut. Here is to be found the Thomas Lynch house built in 1890 and the F. O. Keister building of colonial revival architecture from 1895. The Brennan house was also built in the same year. down around Loucks Avenue also, leads one to many fine, attractive old houses, more like mansions. Most are very well kept, with some various period architecture included in the National Register of Historic Places, no less.
|Graystone Manor of E. H. Reid, of classical revival style,|
designed in the early 1900's by J. C. Fulton
A nice stroll through here can be by walking back up past N. Grant St., down Hickory and making a sort of square down Mulberry Street. Walnut Street has many homes from the very early 1900's. The truth is, like a lot of small towns, there are many fair areas to linger in and around, (just don't loiter too much). The Historic District is just the most obvious. This is, and one would suppose, still is, a religious community of eight churches, that I know of. Not to leave out what became Frankie's Barber Shop on 100 Bridge Street, going back to that pivotal year of 1890!
The town of Scottdale is also surmounted by, at least five parks. Maybe there is a touch of bias as I grew up near here and have some cherished youthful memories, at the S. Chestnut, Central Grade playground and the Firemen's Fairs down on the old football field, and especially, up around High Street near the Mennonite Publishing House and apartments, playing pinball at Maranucci's, swimming at Brierchecks, and biking all over town. You know how that is. This is somewhat offset by the partial dismantling of part of the town which many associate with banks and parking lots. It may of had it's reasons, (the idea was suppose to be a mall area), but some of the logic escaped quite a few people jolted by the experience in the late 1960's and early 1970's, and so it was. One thing is sorely needed and you will hear commented on frequently almost to the point of embarrassment in the town, and that would be a good grocery store! Didn't we have the Stop and Shop and the A&P and IGA? C'mon now Councilmen, (and ladies?), Mayor - can't something be done about this, h'mmm? Let's get on it.
This borough also has a sort of homey attitude toward the holiday season noticeable, maybe more so as of late. From the Chamber of Commerce to the Light festivals, the Choral Society and The Walk of Trees; taken together, it can give you a well needed warm feeling at Yuletide. Add to that the Bell Choir of the Calvin United Presbyterian church and if that isn't enough, West Overton Museums, of which I will have a separate post here eventually; they keep a unique 'Homestead Holiday' with a Victorian theme too. This is not to say for one minute that other border towns don't do their share of holiday celebrations, I've just took more notice here, for one thing-the 'manger scene' was also still on the corner of Pittsburgh street and Broadway in mid-January when driving by ! Why hurry?
There is also the Stepping Stone Theatre, though haven't inquired as to the name. Carson's Catering is across the street at Broadway and does a quality service here.
Does anyone recall Crawford's Restaurant? Or the Tartle brothers and the Bowling alley, or the old Pool Hall on the corner of Bridge St. and Broadway? Scottdale Showtime, once the Strand Theater built in 1900? The same yer for the Central Hotel. Do you recall about he Brennan Building of 1910? the Nut Shop? a Flouring Mill? maybe Cossel's grocery ? Rutherford's or Mr. and Mrs. Scardinia's store further out north Broadway ? Remember ? The Jarrett building of 1907? Even Louck's Hardware Store or Acey's Discount? Alright, maybe a bit of nostalgia goes a long way. For more information see here.
There's a new book out 'Around Scottdale And Everson' and here's some details of the origins of that enterprise by local authors Paul E. Eckman and Tom Zwierzelewski at the trusty Tribune Review.
Also a link to an old schoolteacher with the Southmoreland School District, Robert Percy and his book, 'Profiles Of Service And Sacrifice' a deserving honor to the veterans in the area. I know a little something about that. And Bob isn't somebody you would easily forget. Quite a guy.
Then there is the place already referenced at the beginning of this article behind the defunct Steiner's Skating Rink, (I remember having a go at the wooden circle quite a few times and the boys and girls flirting; you don't have to ask my age as it's telling). This Park, named after Colonel Ellsworth himself held re-enactments of the Civil War. Apparently, there was outdoor dining and dances too, bright in the warm evenings with lights and all decorated up.
On a personal aside, the truth is a few people have said, "do you ever get enough of this obsession?" "what's that ?", "you know, the stuff about old history and the towns and places around here?" A simple, if not complete answer can be provided unequivocally, 'NO'. (Not in this lifetime! :) I only feel sad this interest wasn't more prominently in mind when many dear old friends and family were living and breathing. Hearing the stories and anecdotes of so much of the past they knew well and would tend to relate. Some things cannot be replaced. If only we would of been more curious and attentive when younger. That kind of chokes me up. Well...so it should.
You can't go back, it's all too true, but we sure CAN savor and reminisce on what are, essentially, the favored foundations of our own familiar corner and cherish what remains. Friends, that surely isn't nostalgia alone.
Thanks all, for taking the time in reading through these factual associations and historical things, along with...some musings.
Take care of your memories, they're a near and dear part of the future!