Part 1 - Monroeville Historical Society



Part 1 - Monroeville Historical Society
Monroeville, Pennsylvania
A Pictorial History
Louis Chandler
Monroeville Historical Society
Chapter 1: The Frontier Era……………………………..09
Chapter 2: The Farming Village (the 1800s)……………22
Chapter 3: The Township (1900-1945)…………………45
Chapter 4: The Post-War Suburb (1945-1970)…………96
Chapter 5: The Municipality (1970- 2000)…………….121
Appendix: Timeline of Historical Events……………… ...132
This work draws on a number of sources, including the previous
histories of Monroeville by Sarah Thompson, Virginia Etta Myers,
and Marilyn Chandler who, although not related to the present
author, shared his interest in local history and collected many of
the pictures shown here.
Thanks are due to Cindy Ulrich, and the staff of the
Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh’s Pennsylvania Room, as well as to
the Monroeville Public Library, and especially Mark Hudson and
Marlene Dean; to Victoria Vargo of the Braddock’s Field
Historical Society; to Gary Rogers of the Allegheny Foothills
Historical Society; and to Judith Harvey of the Frank B. Fairbanks
Archives at the Pittsburgh History and Landmarks Foundation.
A special note of thanks goes to Lynn Chandler, for her
support and assistance, and to Gene Bolch, who so generously lent
his expertise in restoring photos from another era. He, along with
the many contributors to the Archives of the Monroeville
Historical Society, made this book possible.
Louis Chandler
Monroeville Historical Society
A Brief History of Monroeville, Pennsylvania
Louis Chandler
Monroeville Historical Society
Some say it was the roads that made Monroeville what it is today.
In fact, the local Planning Commission once went so far as to
declare Monroeville to be “ a phenomena of the automobile.” The
history of Monroeville is inextricably linked with the history of the
By the latter part of the 1700s, Pittsburgh had become a
bustling pioneer village with several business houses scattered
among the log cabins. Settlements sprang up near Pittsburgh to
become small villages in themselves, but the region to the east
remained sparsely populated, still heavily wooded, with virgin
forests largely intact.
The first families to settle in that region were from a wave
of Scots-Irish immigrants encouraged by the Pennsylvania
authorities to move west, settle the frontier, and farm the land. By
the first half of the 1800s, the area now known as Monroeville was
a small village nestled among widely-scattered farms. In what
would surely be a precursor of things to come, it was a road that
gave the emerging village its first taste of prominence.
By 1807, the grand-daddy of modern highways, the
Northern Turnpike was completed from Philadelphia to Pittsburgh,
and Monroeville, at its convenient location 13 miles out of
Pittsburgh, became the first stagecoach stop heading east on the
new road.
In 1810 the village could boast of two blacksmiths, two
stores, and an inn. The village would develop along the new road,
extending east to west. And when a local farmer named Joel
Monroe began selling off lots along the road, he was to lay the
down the core of the modern community that bears his name.
In 1849 the village, along with present day Turtle Creek,
Wilmerding, Wall and Pitcairn, became part of the newly-formed
Patton Township. The new Township survived with only minimal
government: a Constable to guard the peace, a Board of School
Directors, and, most notably -- a Board of Road Supervisors.
In the latter part of the 1800s the coal mining industry
around Pittsburgh began to extend eastward. Deep mining of coal
began in 1890s, with the coal boom occurring around the time of
the First World War as trenches were dug in the cow pastures to
get at the thick rich coal of the Pittsburgh seam.
With the coming of the railroads in 1850s the Turtle Creek
Valley experienced a dramatic growth, and soon the local mines
were feeding a growing steel industry in the valley. To meet the
steel industry’s voracious appetite for coal, railroads tracks were
laid in the area, and spur lines built to service the coalmines.
In the late 19th century Patton Township enjoyed something
of a boom in coal mining; many local residents who didn’t work on
the farms were to find employment in the mines, or on the
But the coal boom ran its course and by the first part of the
1900s, life in the little farming community had lapsed back to what
it had pretty much been for the past hundred years. One resident
recalled that: “…after the mines had played out, Monroeville
became almost a ghost town.”
By that time, those who didn’t work on the farms might
take the train from Saunders Station to Pitcairn on their way to
work at the giant Westinghouse plant in Wilmerding, or the
sprawling railroad yards in Pitcairn
It was during the 20th century that Monroeville grew from a
farm village, with horses and buggies traveling over dirt roads, to a
flourishing suburban community laced with major highways
carrying thousands of cars, buses, and trucks every day.
Beginning in the 1920s, the pace of road-building
quickened. And it was in the 1920s that the William Penn Highway
was built, following the route of the Northern Pike. Opening in
1924, it was the first paved road to Pittsburgh. Before that, it took
nearly a day to get to downtown Pittsburgh by horse and buggy to
Turtle Creek, and then by streetcar to Pittsburgh.
Better roads encouraged the traveling pubic, and for a time,
Monroeville became a destination: a place for the weary city
dweller to escape to on a pleasant day drive to the country.
Recognizing the allure of the pristine scenery and fresh air, a group
of entrepreneurs built Burke Glenn Amusement Park along
William Penn Highway in 1926.
In the 1930s and 40s Monroeville was still a sparselypopulated, largely rural community of woods and fields,
farmhouses and barns with fenced pastureland. There was not
much commercial activity in the farming village except for a few
stores along William Penn Highway. Well into the 1940s, many
local families still ran farms, complete with barns, cows and
horses; horse shows in Monroeville, Irwin, and Greensburg, were
major events. Cattlemen drove their cattle in herds from
Westmoreland County through Patton Township over the Northern
Pike to the stockyards in East Liberty.
In the 1940’s and early 50s, the center of village life was
the Farmers’ Auction Barn, where livestock could be bought and
sold three nights a week. One of Monroeville’s first commercial
attractions, the Auction Barn drew buyers from all over the region,
as well as from several surrounding states.
But the horse was to give way to the automobile as
Monroeville continued its evolution from a farming community to
a suburban one, with increased housing and commercial
In the 1940s the New William Penn Highway was built.
Originally designed as a by-pass to Old Route 22, new US Route
22 set the stage for today’s business strip that defines the core of
modern Monroeville.
By the 1950s, a commercial core was already developing
along Route 22 including: grocery stores, a pharmacy, a frozen
custard stand, a gas station, and a restaurant. A little further down
the road, a drive-in theater was established where the present-day
(2005) Lowe’s Home Improvement Center is now located.
During this time there were still many who worked in the
mills of the Turtle Creek valley, but now they might get there by
car, continuing a tradition of working commuter as Monroeville
became something of a “bedroom” community.
Soon a series of asphalt roads and concrete highways, were
crisscrossing Monroeville. And in what was surely a fateful
decision, Monroeville was designated as the Pittsburgh interchange
for the Pennsylvania Turnpike. Once the Pittsburgh interchange
was completed at Monroeville in 1950, the possibility of bringing
customers from the surrounding communities into Monroeville for
shopping became a logical next step.
The economic potential of US Route 22 was seen by a
group of farsighted businessmen who bought some property along
Business Route 22 and proceeded to build a major shopping center
-- The Miracle Mile. The new shopping center was the biggest of
its kind between New York and Chicago when it opened in
November, 1954. Life in Monroeville changed forever with the
coming of the Miracle Mile, as a rural village was launched on its
way to becoming a major commercial center.
Following the lead of Miracle Mile, other shopping strips
sprang up along Route 22, as did gas stations, car dealerships, fast
food stands, and banks. It was a classic case of improved roads and
greater access leading to commercial development that, in turn,
fueled the need for more housing and better roads.
In 1963, the eastern extension of the Penn-Lincoln Parkway
was completed, giving commuters a direct modern highway into
downtown Pittsburgh. Residential and business construction in
Monroeville soared, and there was a dramatic surge in population.
As Monroeville grew, companies and corporations were
increasingly drawn to the attractive suburb. US Steel consolidated
its research labs here in1953, followed by a host of others.
Westinghouse built its nuclear research facilities here in 1965 and
1971; Koppers Company opened a research center in 1961;
Bituminous Coal in 1962, and later, PPG Industries.
The area grew in importance as a shipping hub with the
construction of the Conrail Inter-modal terminal that used a portion
of the old Pitcairn Railway Yards for the trans-shipment of cargo
in containers hauled by trucks to trains. At the same time,
Monroeville’s reputation as a commercial and shopping center was
given additional stature with the opening of the Monroeville Mall
in 1969.
Today Monroeville is a Municipality of some 30,000, and
roads, travel, transportation and commerce remains the lifeblood of
the community.
To learn more about Monroeville’s history visit:
Chapter One
As a local Planning Commission once observed: “Monroeville is a
phenomenon of the automobile.” The history of Monroeville is
thus inextricably linked with the history of the roads. This book
tells that story, and shows how the lives of the people of
Monroeville were shaped by the coming of the roads, and the
eventual dominance of the automobile.
By the latter part of the 1700s, Pittsburgh had become a bustling
pioneer village with several businesses scattered among the log
cabins, showing, along with the beginnings of homegrown
Settlements sprang up near Pittsburgh to become small
villages in themselves. But except for the river valleys, the region
around, and to the east of Pittsburgh remained sparsely populated still heavily wooded, with virgin forests largely intact.
Among the first families to settle in that region (in what
was to become Patton Township and later, Monroeville) were the
Johnstons. Two brothers, William and Robert had both served in
the Revolutionary War, and both had applied for land grants in
Western Pennsylvania. With the approval of Captain Robert
Johnston’s grant in 1789, his family farm was established; it would
become a Monroeville fixture -- one that survived and flourished,
being handed down through several generations well into the 20th
Like the Johnstons, most of the early settlers were farmers,
and they were largely self-sufficient. They had to be. They carved
their farms out of the hilly, thickly wooded land, and grew what
they needed to survive.
When first arriving the settlers would have to rely on
temporary housing that could be rapidly built like lean-tos and
tents, to shelter themselves from the elements while they were
building their log cabins. Suitable trees would be selected, cut to
length, and the untrimmed logs were notched and stacked so that
each successive log fitted into the groove of the log below. The
cracks or chinks between the logs were filled with mud or straw
and clay. In a log cabin, one room served as kitchen, dining room,
bedroom and parlor. Families were large, with six to ten children
often crowded with their parents into that single room.
1. Robert Johnston, and his brother William, were twins and sons of John and
Elizabeth Campbell Johnston -- among the very first settlers in the area. Robert and
William were given land grants for their service in the Revolutionary War.
2. Robert (1795-1875) & Martha Johnston (1798-1884).
Robert was the grandson (3rd generation) of John
and Elizabeth Johnston.
3. 4. George M. Johnston (1865-1921) and George C. Johnston (1862-1942)
were among the fifth generation of one of Monroeville’s pioneering families.
5. 6. George L. Johnston (1900-1951) was to marry Elsie Strochein (whose
family lends it name to a prominent road in Monroeville). The Johnston family
was to remain one of Monroeville’s most prominent throughout the years, with
many members being active in the community, and serving as public officials,
assessors and school board officers. One such family member who carried on
the Johnston tradition of community service was George R. Johnston, son of
George and Elsie. A veteran of WWII, Officer Johnston served for many years
as a Monroeville police officer.
7. 8. Johnston’s Dairy Farm in the 1970s. By the mid 1900s the original
Johnston farm had been reduced to just 46 acres. Although the farm
continued in the dairy business, gradually it was hemmed in by commercial
development. In the end only 10 acres were left for the family home and
dairy. The farm continued in the dairy business right through the 1970s, but
by 1980 Floyd Johnston, the current owner, had to close the farm; the land
being sold or leased to developers.
9. In 1976, as part of the American bicentennial celebration, Ed and Cathy
Johnston, appeared with a team of the farm’s prized Clydesdales.
10. Floyd Johnston, his wife and grandson, led a team of Oxen in the
Monroeville’s Bicentennial parade, recalling the family’s pioneering ancestors.
11. The Johnston House, c.1930. This log house was built around 1800 by John
McCully and later was passed on to the Johnston family.
12. In 1982 the old log house was purchased by William J. Johnson, who began
a restoration project; it currently (2006) is the residence of the Johnson family.
13. 14. Probably built about 1810, The McCully Log House is among the oldest
structures in Monroeville. In 1992, the log house was dismantled and moved to its
new location near the historic McGinley House, where it was fully restored.
15. The Haymaker House in the 1940s. This log house was the home of
William N. Haymaker, his wife Mary. It later served as a farmhouse for the
Maxwell family.
16. The Haymaker House today (in 2007).
17. 18. The Graham House c. 1930. This impressive example of a two-story log
house is beautifully situated on a hillside above the Turtle Creek valley. It has
been beautifully restored, first by the Drakulic family and then by the Salnicks.
19. Eles Brothers Cement Company. From the earliest days the area’s creeks
were prime locations for local mills. Typical would have been the sawmill along
the creek in what was known as Sawmill Valley that running beside Monroeville
Road going south to Turtle Creek. Another example is the Davis Sawmill on
Thompson Run Road that continued to operate as a sawmill well into the 20 th
century, before the plant was converted by new owners into a cement mixing
facility, which it still is today (2005).
20. The MacGregor Road stone bridge, a 19th century one-lane structure near
Beatty Road, was built to accommodate horse-and-buggy and foot traffic, and
has been designated as a local historic landmark.
Chapter Two: The 1800s
Along with the Johnstons, some of the other early settlers included
the Abers, Clugstons, McClintocks, and Duff, all of whom arrived
in the area prior to the 1800s. These pioneering families would be
joined by the Beattys, McCullys, McGinleys, Thompsons,
Haymakers and others, many of whom helped to build the
community over the years, and have left their legacy in the names
of the local roads, creeks and landmarks.
While log houses continued to be built even after the civil
war, in time they were to give way to more substantial farmhouses
of wood or stone. The local housing was, like the farmers
themselves: simple, straightforward, and pragmatic. In time, more
substantial farmhouses came to dominate the landscape. Made of
stone, or of wood frame and siding, they typically were built on a
foundation of local stones roughly fitted together.
In the 1790s a group of Philadelphia businessmen formed a
company to operate the Northern Turnpike as a toll road. By 1807
the road was completed, running in a northeasterly direction from
Philadelphia to Pittsburgh. One of the investors, Abraham Taylor,
settled 13 miles east of Pittsburgh where, in 1800, he built an inn
near the tollgate of the new road. A few years later Joel Monroe,
an early landowner (after whom Monroeville was to be named),
began selling off lots along the road to define and develop the core
of the emerging village.
21. 22. Clarence Aber. The Aber family
originally came from Germany, and in 1785
Matthew moved to what was to become
Monroeville, where he met and married his
wife Elizabeth. The couple were to have seven
children, many of whom stayed on the family
farm in the eastern part of Monroeville. The
Abers have contributed to building the
community over the years. Reflecting that
heritage, both Abers Creek and Abers Creek
Road are named after them. Below is the Aber
Centotaph at Cross Roads Cemetery
23. 24. Samuel King Beatty (1811-1872) and Leonora Beatty. The Beatty family
immigrated to the American colonies in the early 1700s. William Beatty fought
in both the French and Indian War, and the Revolutionary War and was given
land grants for his military service in Patton Township.
25. Four generations of Beattys.
26. Harold “Chick” Clugston. Robert Clugston was a Revolutionary War soldier
who settled down to his Patton Township after the war. One descendent, Harold
“Chick” Clugston would become a member of Pittsburgh radio station, KDKA’s
“Little Symphony Orchestra,” in the 1920s – the golden age of radio.
27. Henry Duff (1816-1873) &
Rebecca Monroe Duff (1820-1903).
In 1795 John Duff bought a parcel of
land in what was to become Patton
Township, and began the Duff family
farm. His son Henry was to marry
Rebecca Monroe (1820-1903),
daughter of Joel Monroe and
Margaret Bing Monroe. Joel Monroe
was an early landowner and later a
postmaster of the village that was to
bear his name. In 1854, Joel Monroe
sold his farm to his son-in-law, Henry
28. Joel Duff and Family,
Labor Day 1915. Henry and
Rebecca Duff were to have
five children, including Joel
Duff (seen here) and John,
who fought with the Union
Army in the Civil war, and
died in the service of his
country in 1864, at age 18. The
Duff family continued to work
the farm for many years,
gradually selling off land
located near the core of what
would become Monroeville; by
the 1920s, gas stations,
greenhouses, and roadhouses
had sprouted up along the road
near the Duff farm.
29. The Joel Duff Family
30. Roy Chester Elliott. Andrew Elliott first came to Western Pennsylvania about
1830; he bought a farm on what would become the northern side of Route 22.
31. 32. John Graham (1775-1830) John Graham and his family came to America from
Belfast, Ireland in 1828,and purchased a farm in Patton Township in 1830. To the
right is the wedding photo of John (1876-1926) & Sarah Graham.
33. William & Mary Haymaker . William N.
Haymaker moved to Patton Township as a
young man, where he met and married Mary
Simpson. The Haymakers were to have eight
children one of whom, John C. Haymaker,
became a prominent judge. In 1861, William
Haymaker joined the Union Army. Although
wounded at the Battle of Fair Oaks, Virginia,
he managed to live through the war, to return
home to the family farm. After the war,
William Haymaker continued to be involved in
his community, farming his land while filling
various town offices.
34. 35. Hugh Maxwell, Jr. & James Maxwell Hugh and Agnes (Graham)
Maxwell came to America from Ireland, in 1830, settling in Patton Township.
The couple had 8 children, two of whom died in the Civil War.
36. James McClintock. Joseph
McClintock was born
in 1768 in Belfast, Ireland and
immigrated to America
to settle in what would become
Monroeville in 1790.
Joseph’s son John was both a
farmer and a stonemason, and it
was John who built the historic
“McGinley House,” in about
1830. The McClintock family
were to contribute towards
building their community as
farmers, laborers, carpenters and
37. Robert & Essie Glendenning McGinley w/ child Hazel.
38. The McGinley family probably
arrived in Pennsylvania in the early
1800s. James McGinley married
Mary Caldwell, settled in the
Monroeville area and began to raise
a family. They were to have six
children. Their oldest boy, Isaac
married Margaret McClintock and
the couple moved into the
McClintock farmhouse – a house to
which the McGinleys would give
their name, as one of Monroeville’s
historic landmarks –“McGinley
39. James King Snodgrass and Anne McGinley Snodgrass. Samuel
Snodgrass fought in the Revolutionary War . His son, Samuel, was to
attain the rank of Colonel in the War of 1812.
40. Robert and Mary Thompson. The
Thompson family immigrated to
America just before the War of 1812,
and in 1816 bought a farm in Patton
Township. The farm would remain
in the family for more than 100 years.
The family was to rise to prominence
in the area, being active in the
community, and in the Bethel
Presbyterian Church.
In 1925, Col. Elmer E. Thompson sold 20
acres of the Thompson farm to the four
Burke brothers for $2,500 -- land they
would use to build an amusement park
along the William Penn Highway – “Burke
To the left is Robert Thompson (187319440 with grandson Darryl in the 1940s
42. 43. Josiah Young, and Catherine McClintock Young. In 1817, Robert Young
purchased a farm in what is now Monroeville. In the 1940s, James and Jennie
Young had a store and gas station near James Street, -- a place that would come
to be known to the locals as “Young’s Corner.”
44. In 1830 John McClintock built the McGinley farmhouse, shown here as
it was modernized in the 20th century.
45. The McGinley House, a prime example of a farmhouse of the 1800s and
the oldest existing stone house in Monroeville as it stands today (2007),
fully restored.
46. Hill Crest -- the Carlisle family
farm. This house was a fine example
of a farmhouse of the Victorian era.
ThCarlisles had ties to one of
Monroeville’s founding fathers -- Joel
In 1854, Joel Monroe sold his farm
along Northern Pike to his daughter
Rebecca and her husband, Henry
Duff; it then became known as the
Duff Farm. James Carlisle’s farm was
their next door neighbor, and
the families intermarried.
47. A Christmas Card from Hill Crest
48. Wedding at Hill Crest. James Larimar Carlisle would build his distinctive
farmhouse on a rise beside the Northern Turnpike, which the family called
“Hill Crest.” The Carlisle’s often held social events, picnics, weddings and
large family gatherings at Hill Crest.
49. The Boyd House. This is one of the few vernacular frame farmhouses still
standing in Monroeville. It was originally built as the Boyd family farmhouse.
50. A Family Outing at the Grimm Farm. Lloyd Grimm mined coal on the
property in the 1920s, and who the Grimm Coal Company, from whom the place
got its name. It was a popular gathering place; today (2006) the farmhouse
serves as the residence of the Witter family.
51. A Community 4th of July Celebration on Grimm Farm on Tilbrook Road.
52. Willow Springs Farm. This farm land, originally a land grant from the
Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, was sold to the Elliott family in 1845. It was
the Elliotts who built the farmhouse off Hochberg Road, although it was later
owners, the Wilcox family, who would give it its name: “Willow Springs.”
53. The Shafer House was built on the Shafer farm just off Haymaker Road.
54. The Hohmann House. The Hohmann family came from Germany in the
early1900s. In the 1940s Joseph Hohmann began selling home-grown fruits and
vegetables from a roadside stand at Young’s Corner eventually the Red and
White Market on James Street - a family-owned business for many years.
55. The McKinney House on McKinney Road was built about 1830.
56. The Beatty House. Built in 1901, this house was the second farmhouse of the
Samuel Beatty family built on land owned by Judge Thomas Mellon, banker and
financier, and father of Andrew Mellon.
57. The Beatty House in 2006. Robert Beatty had been awarded a land grant in
the area for his service in the French and Indian War.
58. 59. The Thompson House c. 1950. The Thompson farm off Beatty Road
remained in the family for over 100 years. In 1950, the Thompsons sold the
house to the Bauman family who continued its farming tradition by providing a
shelter for wayward animals in need of a home.
60. 61. The Bradley House c. 1940. This house with its wrap-around portico,
and Doric columns is one of the more distinctive in Monroeville. It began life
as a modest farmhouse, built about 1860 by Richard Bradley. Below is the
Smith Family on the porch of the Bradley House. c. 1940.
62. 63. The Lang House was built by George Lang, a veteran of the
Revolutionary War in the 1790s. The photo shows it being remodeled. In the
early 1800s the house served as a coach stop and livery stable for stage coaches
headed east from Pittsburgh. Today The Lang House has been completely
64. The Rising Sun Inn. Among the oldest structures in Monroeville, this house
was originally built by Abraham Taylor as a Stagecoach Inn at the first coach
stop out of Pittsburgh, located near the tollgate of the Northern Turnpike. It is
said that stage drivers, leaving the inn and heading east in the early morning,
found they were often driving directly into a blazing sun, hence the name –
“Rising Sun Inn”. The house was in the Warner family for several generations,
and today has been modernized as a physician’s office.
65. 66. Joel & Margaret Bing Monroe. Around 1820, Joel Monroe, a farmer
from Virginia, purchased a 125-acre farm, and moved to western Pennsylvania
with his young family. It was Joel Monroe who, by selling off small lots along
the Turnpike, encouraged development in the core of the emerging community.
In January 1851, Joel Monroe became the first postmaster.
67. Rebecca Gillis Sooy (1939-2005).
Rebecca Sooy, the Great Great Great
Grandaughter of Joel Monroe
(after whom Monroeville was named),
holds the deed to the Monroe property,
which would later become the core of
modern Monroeville. Her father was
Dr. Paul McBride Gillis, a well-known
local clergyman.
Mrs. Sooy passed away on October 16,
2005, in Foster City, California.
Chapter Three: 1900-1945
By the 20th century the industrial age had come to Monroeville (or
Patton Township as it was then known) as coal mining in the
Pittsburgh region spread eastward. But the deep mining boom
soon ran its course, and by the first part of the 1900s life in the
little farming community had lapsed back to what it had been for
the past hundred years. By that time, those who didn’t work on the
farms were beginning to find work at the giant Westinghouse plant
in nearby Wilmerding, or in the sprawling railroad yard in Pitcairn.
Railroads had come upon the scene in the mid-1800s, and
they quickly provided a popular alternative to the horse and buggy
for passenger and freight travel. Trains could now bring workers
from Patton Township to their jobs at the Westinghouse Electric
plant in East Pittsburgh, The WABCO plant in Wilmerding, or the
giant railroad yards in Pitcairn. Trains could also service the
burgeoning mining industry, transporting ore to feed the steel mills
of the Monongahela Valley. In time, the need arose for more
housing for the families of workers, tradesmen and professional
In the 1930s Monroeville was still a sparsely-populated,
largely rural community, but gradually the horse-and-buggy gave
way to the automobile. In the 1940s modern roads were being
built, and many who worked in the mills of the Turtle Creek
valley, might now get there by the family car continuing the
tradition of the working commuter. The automobile, along with
the rising affluence of the middle class, created a demand for
affordable housing within reach of the city.
Better roads encouraged the traveling public, and
Monroeville became a destination: a place for the weary city
dweller to escape to on a pleasant drive in the country.
Recognizing the allure of the pristine scenery and fresh air,
roadhouses sprang up to cater to the traveling public -- a role the
Rising Sun Inn had fulfilled in the earliest days.
68. The Bruce and Rovesti Houses. In the 1930s, Monroeville was becoming a
“bedroom” community with small affordable houses such as these bungalows on
Patton Street, one of the earlier residential neighborhoods in the community.
69. The Thokar House on Cavitt Road. This English Cottage style house was built
in the 1940s by Paul Thokar from local sandstone.
70. Valley Tower. This impressive house near Abers Creek, was designed for
Charles Ross Anthony by renowned architect Henry Hornbostel.
71. WABCO Housing. During the 1920s, Westinghouse Air Brake Co. in
Wilmerding built housing for their African American workers on Boyd’s Hill.
72. The Nedrow House. In the mid-1930s, J. Elmer Nedrow built this cottage
from the packing crates discarded at the Westinghouse plant where he worked.
73. The Murrysville Railroad Station. During the 1850s, workers took trains
from Patton Township to the industrial plants of the Turtle Creek Valley.
74. The Pitcairn Railroad Station
75. The Pitcairn RR Yard. Along with the stationhouses built by the railroad
there were a number of repair facilities, maintenance, and switching yards, the
most prominent in the area being the sprawling yard at Pitcairn. In 1874, the
PRR, needing room to expand its Pittsburgh operations, bought 215 acres of
farmland in Patton Township along the Turtle Creek Valley. In 1888 they began
construction on what was to become the Pitcairn yard.
76. The Pitcairn Yard. Finished in 1892, the Pitcairn RR yard included
classification and receiving yards, transfer and assembly tracks, two
roundhouses, repair shops, machine shops, and its own lumber yard
and power plant. Cabinet shops, upholstery shops and paint shops were also
set up to repair and refurbish passenger cars.
77. For many years all east-west freight of the PRR was channeled through the
Pitcairn Yard.
78. The Pitcairn RR Yard in Pitcairn in the 1950s.
79. Robert Pitcairn (1836-1909).
Robert Pitcairn was a railroad executive and
Superintendent of the Pittsburgh Division of
the Pennsylvania Railroad in the late 19th
century. It was he who authorized the
construction of the massive rail yard along
Turtle Creek just east of Pittsburgh. The
borough of Pitcairn, Pa., located adjacent to the
yard, was named in his honor.
80. 81. Broadway in Pitcairn in the 1910s. In 1894 Pitcairn seceded from
Patton Township to form its own borough, as a prospering Railroad town. By
the 1920s horses and buggies had been replaced by automobiles along
Pitcairn’s Broadway.
82. A Trolley in Pitcairn. In 1901, the Pittsburgh and Wilmerding Street
Railway Company was running trolley service along Broadway in Pitcairn, with
a fare to Pittsburgh of 15 cents. Pittsburgh Railways took over the Pitcairn
Trolley line in 1902, and it became part of a complex of trolley lines servicing
the towns in the Turtle Creek valley.
83. Pittsburgh Railways Company Streetcar on Broadway in Pitcairn in 1961.
84. 85. Pitcairn Street Scene. Pitcairn flourished through the early years of the
20th century. In 1894, the village incorporated as a Borough, adopting the name
of the Railroad Superintendent, “Pitcairn.” Pitcairn was to become a vital
community; the life of the town centered around the Railroad. Below is the
Railroad’s Band in concert in Pitcairn.
86. 87. Military Funeral in Pitcairn in 1919. Pitcairn, like so many American
towns, large and small, proudly showed its patriotic fervor during World War I.
Broadway saw its share of celebrations with marching bands, as well as
funerals as the town mourned for its sons who had fallen in battle.
88. The Union Railroad is part of that original Lake Erie to Pittsburgh Mills
rail system that had its beginnings in 1896.
89. The Union RR extended down from North Bessemer to East Pittsburgh.
90. Union RR unloading Scrap Iron at Duquesne. Today, as then, the Union
Railroad provides railroad transportation and railroad switching service,
primarily to the steel industry.
91. Diesel Locomotive of the Union RR about to pass under the George
Westinghouse Bridge.
92. 93. Union RR shops from Route 22. Coal shipments were hauled from the
Patton Township mines to various transfer points including Hall’s Station later
to become the Hall’s Locomotive Shops off Thompson Run Road.
94. Union RR Steam Locomotive. The Union Railroad took a north-south route
crossing through Monroeville to the steel mills in the Mon Valley.
95. Denmark Mine. In the late 19th century, Patton Township, enjoyed a boom
in coal mining.
96. Gas Wells appeared in the area in the early 1900s. The first gas pipeline
to Pittsburgh began at the Haymaker Well in Murrsyville in the 1870s.
97. Mule Hauling of Tram Cars (note the Old Stone Church in the background).
Mules were eventually replaced by mechanical haulage over steel tracks using
electric motors.
98. McCullough’s Coal Tipple in 1955.
Once the mined coal had been brought to the
surface it had to be hauled to a coal tipple. A
coal tipple was a place for temporary storage
where wagons of coal from the pits were
“tipped” or dumped, eventually to be loaded
into railroad cars on sidings running beneath
the tipple.
99. A Work Locomotive or “Dinky were used to do much of\ the local hauling
for mines like Rention, Gascola, and Cunningham’s.
100. A Work Train Removing tracks from along the William Penn Highway near
Trestle Road – so named after the railroad bridge that once spanned the gully.
101. Strip Mining. Even as the underground mines were becoming
uneconomical, new methods of strip mining were being developed.
102. Strip mining continued well into the 1940s as the rich coal seams in the
area were further exploited. The future home of the Monroeville Mall was once
on land that was a strip mine -- Harper’s Mine.
103. A Community Picnic at McMasters Grove. McMasters Grove located near
the center of town along present Route 22 was later to be strip mined.
104. 105. The Chadderton Family on a Family Outing. Even though the
automobile began to appear on the dusty streets of the village of Monroeville, it
was still a sparsely-populated community of woods and fields, farmhouses and
barns with fenced pastureland. The horse and buggy was still the mainstay of
family travel.
106. Family Outing on Tilbrook Road.
107. Livery Stable with Gas Wells in Background. Prior to 1910, automobiles
were few and far between, and stables were frequently found in the village
where rigs could be parked, and horses boarded.
108. The Kuehn Boys (Fred, Carl, & Bud) on a Horse. Inevitably, the horse
was to give way to the automobile as Monroeville continued its evolution
from a farming community to a suburban one. Today, except for the
occasional Fourth of July parade where equestrians could show their pride,
the horse has all but disappeared from the local scene.
109. Hay Harvesting on the Duff farm.
110. The Solomon/Miller Farm and the Farm’s Tractor. For the first few
decades of the 1900s, Monroeville was a farming community. And even well
into the 1940s, many local families still ran the family farm, complete with
barns, cows and horses.
111. Rebecca Carlisle with Nellie Bishop Gillis & Evelyn Treher Gillis. The
prominent Carlisle farm was a frequent gathering place.
112. Evelyn & Jane Treher in
113. “Toodles” Guarding Hill
Crest Farm in 1915.
Farm animals played a major
role in the lives of children
growing up in rural
Monroeville. Here we
find the family pet, companion,
and the trusty guard dog
“Toodles” at his accustomed
post at Hill Crest.
114. Girl on a Pony at the Solomon/Miller
A girl and her pony were a frequent sight in
the farming community, right up into the
115. Mary Thompson in her “Victory Garden” in the 1940s. Neighbors
congregated at the Thompson farm house for community social events. During
WW II, the government encouraged families to be self-sufficient in foodstuffs,
and “Victory Gardens, sprang up all across America.
116. Darryl Thompson with “Old Shep”
in the 1940s.
117. The Solomon/Miller Farm (McGinley House). In 1932, Max Miller, a
Pittsburgher in the real estate business bought the McGinley farm. His wife
Elizabeth Solomon Miller called on her family to help in running the farm. Mrs.
Miller was able to indulge her love of peacocks, and kept several on the farm,
while Harry Solomon took charge of the horses.
118. The Solomon/Miller Farm -- Boy on a horse.
119. Harry Solomon with a Trotter on the Farm’s Racetrack. When the
Solomons came to the farm to help out, it was Harry, Betty’s brother, who
volunteered to look after the horses. His special love was his trotters, which he
exercised on a race track on the hill just behind the farm house.
120. Harry Solomon with Trotter and Sulky.
121. Richard Maxwell on “Bob” & Stan Morse on “Teddy.” on the Maxewell
farm in the 1940s.
122. The Maxwell Farm with “Babe” in the 1940s.
123. Fred Hohmann, Anthony Winkler, and Jean (Winkler) Colbaugh. Horses
and horseback riding continued to be a common sight in Monroeville in the
1940s and 50s.
124. “Jingles” (owner Gerri Tucker) at the Solomon’s
Farm in 1962
125. Jean (Winkler) Colbaugh & “Lovely Lady” in the 1940s. In the 1940s it
was still possible for a girl growing up on a farm to ride her horse along the
winding horse paths throughout Monroeville.
126. Riders on horseback in Turnpike Gardens in 1962. Right up into the early
1970s horseback riders could be seen along the dirt roads of Monroeville.
Rallies were held for local riders, and the horse shows in Monroeville, Irwin,
and Greensburg, were major events.
127. Automobile Traffic on Pitcairn Road.
128. Cole Auto on exhibit in Pitcairn in 1910. Automobiles began appearing on
local roads in the early 1900s. Joseph Cole, a Midwest carriage maker, began
manufacturing automobiles in 1909. He enthusiastically promoted his cars,
sending them on promotional tours across America.
129. Taylor’s Auction Barn. In the Spring of 1946, Joe Taylor of East
McKeesport began a weekly auction in a barn he bought on Route 22. His idea
was to invite farmers to bring in livestock, machinery, antiques and anything
else they didn’t want. The auction was an immediate success with as many as
5,000 buyers crowding the floor on a busy Saturday night.
130. Auctioneer’s Stand at the Auction Barn (Linda Schafer, Dan Schafer, and
Rudolph “Weedy” Pruts).
131. The Auction Barn became so popular a staff of six additional auctioneers
had to be hired. In less than five years Mr. Taylor saw his initial investment of
$750 grow into an annual business of $1,000,000. The Barn was closed to make
way for the Parkway/Route 48 interchange.
132. Monroeville’s Auction Barn
133. The Old Stone Church c. 1960. Built in 1896, for many years this inspiring
church on the hill served as a place of worship for the Cross Roads Presbyterian
134. The Old Stone Church, c.1920.
135. Congregation of the Old Stone Church in 1918. In 1969 the church
building was sold to T. M. Sylves and his daughter, Sarah Sylves Thompson
who bought it to donate it to the Municipality as an historical landmark.
136. Ladies in Auto passing by the Old Stone Church. During the horse-andbuggy era, a stable across the road (on the site of the current BP station) served
to care for the horses while services were being conducted.
137. The Old Stone Church with its Bell Tower. In 1976, a bell tower was erected
beside the church, dedicated to two industrial pioneers who had a impact on our area:
George Westinghouse and Nicola Tesla. The stones for the tower were donated by the
Ulrich family; the bell, by the Drakulik family.
138. The Interior of the Old Stone Church
– A Monroeville Landmark.
139. Old Stone Church with Veterans. Throughout the years, the Old Stone
Church and its cemetery have served as places for community remembrance
of those who served their country, like this one in the early 1900s, were regular events.
140. The Cross Roads Cemetery holds the graves of many servicemen, including seven
veterans of the American Revolutionary War, and 24 veterans of the Civil War.
141. The Holt Sisters (Myrtle, Alice and Edna) with their 1915 Studebaker;
Broadway in Pitcairn in 1928. As the automobile came of age, more of the farm
families found themselves the proud owners of a family car.
142. Pitcairn’s Broadway in 1928. Pitcairn, incorporated as a Borough in 1894,
paved Broadway in the 1920s to accommodate the increased automobile traffic.
143. James Street in the 1920s. Beginning in the 1920s, the pace of road-building
quickened. The old William Penn Highway, built in the 1920s, and following the
route of the Northern Pike, was the first paved road to Pittsburgh. But local roads
like James Street remained a dirt road well into the 1930s.
144. Gravity Fill Gas Station on old William Penn Highway. One of the earliest
gas stations in Monroeville the Gravity Fill was situated below the Union
Railroad’s siding on a nearby hill, so that gasoline could flow directly from the
tank cars into the station’s holding tanks below – thus the name “Gravity Fill.”
145. The Old Windmill Restaurant along the Old William Penn Highway.
146. Strochein’s Gas Station. Another well-known area gas station was
Strocehein’s Cross Roads Atlantic Gas station, located for many years across
from the Old Stone Church.
147. Young’s Grocery and Gas in the 1930s. James and Jennie Young had a
neighborhood grocery store with an added gas station near James Street, a place
that would come to be known to the locals as “Young’s Corner.”
148. A Studebaker stuck in the mud. Beginning in the 1920s, the pace of roadbuilding quickened. By the late 1950s, all the dirt roads were all graded, but
remained uselessly muddy in heavy rains.
149. Mrs. Betty Miller with a Piper Cub. In the early days of aviation, pilots might
use a convenient farmer’s field for take offs and landings.
150. Johnston Field in the 1940s. Patton Township’s airports served as flight
schools during the 1940s and many fledgling pilots went on to serve in World
War II. Teresa James of Wilkinsburg, the first woman to fly from Bohinski’s field,
had a distinguished flying career in the Woman’s Auxiliary Flying
Squadron and later, the US Air Force, retiring as a Major. After the war, air
shows were resumed at Johnston’s field and they would continue right into
the late 1950s.
151. First Airmail Flight at Johnston Field in 1938 (l to r: 2, Johnston, 5, H.
Vogel, instructor, 6, P. Ball, Gulf Aviation, 7, Theresa James). Established in
1926, Johnston’s Airport was the oldest of the three local fields. In the
1930s it became the transfer point for airmail for the Pitcairn Post office,
and regular air mail service was initiated. A similar mail transfer point for
the Wilmerding Post Office was established at Patton Township’s Bohinski’s
Field, where for a time, an aerial mail pickup system was tested.
152. Air Mail 1938 from Johnston’s Air Port in May, 1938.
153. Ticket to Burke Glen Amusement Park. By the 1920s Monroeville offered
a pleasant drive in the countryside for city dwellers. Recognizing the allure of
the pristine scenery and fresh air, a group of entrepreneurs built Burke Glen
Amusement Park along old William Penn Highway in 1926.
154. Plenty of Free Parking! Burke Glen catered to the automobile by offering
plenty of free parking.
155. The Speed Hound at Burke Glen. Burke Glen offered an arcade,
amusement rides including an impressive roller coaster called “the Speed
Hound,” a park-like setting with picnic groves, miniature golf, and a swimming
156. Burke Glen in the 1930s. During World War II gas rationing restricted
recreational driving, and revenues shrank. In the1940s the new Route 22 took
land from Burke Glen, reducing the size of the amusement park. As a result,
the park was forced to scale back operations; it never fully recovered.
157. Barbara Taylor Huttenstine at
the Burke Glenn Pool.
Right into the 1970s the Burke
Glen pool continued to be popular
with locals; parents brought their
children for family fun, and local
teenagers found it a great place to
hang out on a Saturday
158. A Family Picnic at Burke Glen. By 1970s, the Park had shrunk to a small
core of what it once was. The amusement rides were gone but the picnic
groves, a refreshment stand, pool, and the miniature golf course remained. But
by 1974, Burke Glen was forced to close its doors.
159. The LaBarbe in the 1920s. Allen Behler’s LaBarbe began as
an open-sided barbeque stand in the 1920s, and today it remains a
Monroeville fixture on its original site on Old William Penn Highway.
160. The LaBarbe in the 1940s.
161. La Barbe Restaurant in the 1950s.
162. Dance Pavilion at the La Barbe Restaurant. During the 1950s hundreds
would flock to the LaBarbe on a summer’s night to enjoy dancing at the
outdoor pavilion at the rear of the restaurant. Band leader Lawrence Welk
was a personal friend of the owner’s and his band would sometimes
perform at the pavilion, while the LaBarbe advertised “dancing under the
Chapter Four (1945-1970)
In the 1940s, the New William Penn Highway (US Route 22) was
being constructed through Monroeville, and the road that was to
define the commercial core of today’s Monroeville was completed
in 1942.
A few years later, the Pennsylvania Turnpike was being
extended westward; with Monroeville designated as its Pittsburgh
interchange in 1950. Greater access led to further commercial
development and that, in turn, fueled the need for more housing
and better roads; a dynamic given further impetus when the
Parkway East was completed in 1962. These developments
brought a dramatic surge in population, as Monroeville stood
poised to join in the national housing boom of the post-war era,
and bring affordable housing to returning veterans and their
By the 1950s a commercial core was well established along
Route 22. Following the lead of the Miracle Mile, other strip malls
sprang up along Route 22, as did gas stations, car dealerships, fast
food stands, and banks. And by the 1970s, Monroeville was
flourishing as a commercial and entertainment center, following in
the tradition of La Barbe and Burke Glen.
163. Garden City. In April 1955, Wanda Jennings, Mrs. America of 1954,
was on hand to greet visitors at the opening of the latest development in
fully–planned community living – Garden City in Monroeville, Pa.
164. Garden City. This 600-acre development, built on farmland once owned
by the Graham family, would offer 1500 homes at moderate prices.
165. The Zarrella House. This house on St. Vincent Drive is typical of ranch
houses built in Monroeville in the 1950s. It was purchased by William and
Doris Zarrella in 1957.
166. The Walco House. Michael Walko built his dream home in the
Moderne style on land surrounded by cow pastures in rural Monroeville. In
June, 2008 this house was torn down to make way for a set of townhouses.
167. The Conley House. In the 1950s Saunders Station Road was still a dirt
road, with only a few scattered houses in the neighborhood, This house,
designed in Frank Lloyd Wright’s Prairie Style, was built for Robert Conley,
the owner of Conley’s Motor Hotel, then located on Route 22; it remained in
the Conley family for many years.
168. The McCullough House. In many ways this house is a typical suburban
ranch house built in Monroeville in the surge of new housing of the 1950s.
Earl and Norma Jean McCullough had the house built in what was then a
sparsely populated section of northern Monroeville, an area with few stores,
widely scattered houses, and mostly dirt roads. The house remains the
McCullough’s family home in 2006.
169. The Leonoritz House. Clad in its distinctive square panels of porcelain
enameled steel, this house on Pinevue Drive is a surviving example of a
“Lustron” house, a type built in the late 1940s. Lustron houses were steel
prefabricated houses offered in response to the shortage of housing for returning
veterans. By April 1949, the Lustron company had erected over 100
“demonstration” houses in almost every major city east of the Rockies.
170. Brookside Mobile Home Park. In eastern Monroeville, Thompson’s Brook
runs through a hollow along the busy highway. In the 1870s this quiet
backwater, once part of the Elliott farm, was the site of a one-room schoolhouse.
By the 1940s, city dwellers were bringing their campers to campsites there. In
time, some were kept on site on a more permanent basis; eventually Brookside
Mobile Home Park evolved from a camp ground to a trailer park.
171. The Kiren House. Like many veterans returning home, Joe Kiren dreamt of
building a modern house for his young family. Studying the lot on McKinney
Road he saw that the area, once heavily mined, was now an abundant source of
stone -- discarded tailings. Joe proceeded to build his family home with his own
two hands out of local stone that he found all around him.
172. Joe Kiren
building his
“Dream House” on
McKinney Road.
173. Tucker’s Hotel. The era of the “motel” had yet to be born in the 1930s
when Tucker’s Hotel was built by the roadside as an inn for weary
travelers. Located on Route 22 near Duff Road, the two-story hotel was
built in the 1930s from stones found on the nearby Duff Farm. In 1962 the
hotel changed hands and was re-christened the Red Coach Inn.
174. Beatty’s Restaurant in 1948. The Beatty family, among the oldest in
Monroeville, operated this restaurant and gas station at the corner of Center
Road and Route 22 for several years in the late 40s and early 50s.
175. Cole’s Cottage Restaurant in 1947. Cole’s Cottage was a well-known
roadside eatery in the 1940s and early 50s.
176. Cole’s was centrally
located at the southeast
corner of Route 22 and
Strochein Road. The Cole
family later went on in the
1950s to open a soft ice cream
stand, the first in the area, on
Moss Side Boulevard.
177. 178. San Juan Motel; 1948. By the late 1940s the motor hotel or “motel”
had arrived, as the wayside inn once again took on a new name. In that era The
San Juan Motel held a prominent place on Route 22. The motel had a popular
bar which featured nightly entertainment by their house organist,
Claire Nissen.
179. In the mid-1950s, John Bertera’s Holiday House on William Penn Highway
was to become a local landmark. The Holiday House was a supper club that
featured fine dining, and a rich array of star-studded entertainment including
headliners like: Benny Goodman, Andy Williams, Ben Vereen, Cyd Charisse,
Milton Berle, Phyllis Diller and Tony Bennet.
180. The Holiday House in the 1980s.
181. The Flamboyant “Charo”
Performing at the Holiday House.
For many years the Holiday
House was a rare suburban venue
for live entertainment (all the
other local nightclubs were
located in downtown Pittsburgh).
By the 1980s the era of the
supper club was coming to an
end. The Holiday House was
to close its doors in the late 80s;
in 1988-89 the building was
demolished to make way
for the Holiday Plaza strip mall.
182. Johnny Garneau’s (left center). By the 1970s Johnny Garneau’s,
located just east of the Mall, was a popular dining spot on Route 22.
183. 184. Route 22 at Center Road. the New William Penn Highway was
built as a two-lane road in 1942; widened to four lanes in 1959. It set the
stage for today’s business strip that defines the core of modern Monroeville.
185. The Penn-Monroe in the 1950s. Benefiting from the increased traffic
of the new Route 22, bars and restaurants flourished in the 1950s and 60s.
Another popular bar and grill located along the Route 22 strip is the Penn
Monroe. Founded in the 1950s, it remains a gathering place for locals and
travelers today (in 2008).
186. Terrace Motel in the 1960s. As Monroeville became more popular as a
stopover for travelers, motels began to spring up. Among the “granddaddy’s” of
local motels built in the 1950s and 60s were the Terrace Motel and the Phoenix
Motel for the traveling public.
187. The Phoenix Motel on Route 22, was said to be a very popular place.
188. The Pittsburgh Outdoor Theater. In the 1950s drive-in theaters became
popular. At one time Monroeville was to have three drive- in theaters: The
Pittsburgh Outdoor Theater located at the present-day (2008) site of
Lowe’s, the Monroeville Drive-in on Northern Pike, and the Miracle Mile
Drive-in at the eastern edge of Monroeville near the Murrysville border.
189. Miller’s Roadside Stand. The first “food stores” along Route 22 were
simple roadside stands set up by local farmers where home grown fruits and
vegetables could be sold. Miller’s roadside market and the neighborhood
store on James Street -- Hohmann’s Market, were typical examples.
190. Salamon Brothers Supermarket. The term “super” market was
introduced in the 1950s, and the Salamon Brothers took advantage of the
trend to name their grocery on Route 22 near Center Road.
191. Penn Super Pharmacy in the early 1950s. Located near Salamon’s
Market at the northeast corner of Route 22 and Center Road, the Penn
Super Pharmacy was for many years the town pharmacy, a family-owned
business of the Giovannitti family.
192. Joann Schwartzmiller at the soda fountain of the Penn Super
193. Kuehn’s Dairy. Family-owned businesses grew as local farmers began
making money by selling their surplus crops. Like the Johnston Dairy, the
Kuehn Dairy was a long-established fixture in Monroeville. The last familyowned dairy in Monroeville hung on until 1995, when it finally closed to
make way for the Manor Care Adult Community.
194. Kuehn’s Dairy in the 1970s.
195. George Johnston and his Piper Cub. Monroeville’s history with aviation
began in the 1920s when Johnston Air Field was established. The Johnstons
continued to be involved in flying and the picture shows George Johnston, a
member of the Civil Air Patrol, with his Piper Cub at the airport.
196. Johnstons Airport in the 1960s. Right up into the 1960s air shows and
exhibitions were staged at the airport.
197. Monroeville Airport 1950s. In 1948 The Pittsburgh-Monroeville Airport
was established by Harold Brown. The airport flourished in the 1950s and 60s.
In 1958, there were 112 aircraft hangered there. Although there are fewer
planes hangered there today, the Monroeville airport remains active, as of 2008.
198. The Monroeville
Airport (aka The Harold
W. Brown Memorial
Field) is managed by
veteran pilot Raymond
J.Weible, who first came
to the airport in 1953.
199. 200. Groundbreaking for Miracle Mile. Once the Pittsburgh interchange of
the Turnpike was completed at Monroeville in 1950, a group of businessmen
from Columbus, Ohio headed by Don M. Casto, a pioneer in developing
shopping malls bought some property from the school board along Route 22,
and proceeded to build a major shopping center -- The Miracle Mile.
201. When it opened on November 1, 1954.Monroeville’s new shopping center
was billed as the biggest of its kind between New York and Chicago.
202. The Miracle Mile offered shopping that accommodated the driving public
with easy access, parking for 4,000 cars, and a long row of 45 stores flanked by
203. Miracle Mile in the 1960s. By the 1960s the Miracle Mile had become a
regional shopping center with customers coming from all over the tri state area.
204. The Miracle Mile was a lively place at night.
205. 206. Shopping at the Miracle Mile. Following the lead of Miracle Mile,
other shopping strips sprang up along Route 22, as did gas stations, car
dealerships, fast food stands, and banks.
207. The Greyhound Station at Conley’s in 1999. Manager J. H. Mathews
clearing the way at the Greyhound terminal once located at Conley’s Motel on
Route 22.
208. The Greyhound Station at Monroeville Mall in 2006.
Chapter Five (1970-2000)
The eastern extension of the Penn-Lincoln Parkway was completed
in 1963, providing a direct modern highway into downtown
Pittsburgh. Residential and business construction in Monroeville
soared. As Monroeville grew, companies and corporations were
increasingly drawn to the attractive suburb. At the same time,
Monroeville’s reputation as a commercial and shopping center was
given additional stature with the opening of the Monroeville Mall
in 1969.
209. US Steel Labs. By the 1970s companies discovered the attractive suburb
for their corporate offices and laboratories. In the 1950s US Steel was one of the
first companies to move its laboratories to its new location in Monroeville.
210. Pittsburgh Corning Co. c. 1962, was to become a division of PPG
Industries, which continues to maintain its laboratory in Monroeville.
211. The Westinghouse Nuclear Center in 2007. In 1971 Westinghouse opened
its Nuclear Energy Center on a tract of land near the Turnpike Interchange. In
2007, the company announced it would move the facilities to Cranberry
Township north of Pittsburgh.
212. Offices of the A. B. Smith Co on old Route 22 near the Parkway.
213. Murphy’s Meats and Isaly’s in 1991. Some of the shops along
Monroeville’s Miracle Mile, such as Murphy’s Meats and Isaly’s became wellknown, and were especially popular with local residents.
214. Conley’s Motel and Restaurant. Facilities that catered to the traveling
public continued to proliferate along the Route 22, such as Conley’s Motor Inn.
215. The original building of the Holiday Inn of Monroeville is seen here in this
1970 photo.
216. The vacant Sunrise Motel on Route 22 today (in 2008); formerly the
Phoenix Motel.
217. William Penn Motel at 4139 William Penn Highway in the 1970s.
218. Advertisement for Monroeville Mall.
Monroeville’s reputation as a
commercial and shopping center was given
additional stature with the opening of the
Monroeville Mall in 1969.
219. Joseph Horne Company. Major tenants of the new Mall such as Joseph
Horne, Co., J.C. Penny, and C.G. Murphy Co., and others, were accommodated
in a self-enclosed, air-conditioned shopping area with paved courtyards,
plantings, shrubs, pools and dancing fountains. The new Mall would have a
capacity for over 100 tenants, and parking for 6,500 cars. It was a project of
Don-Mark Reality (Principals: Harry Soffer, Eugene Lebowitz, Don Soffer,
Edward J. Lewis, and Mark Mason). The company later would become the
Oxford Development Company.
220. Monroeville Mall in 1970 after recently being completed.
221. 222. The Fountains at Monroeville Mall shortly after the grand
opening in July 1969.
223. Ice Skating Rink at Monroeville Mall. A special feature of the new Mall
was the regulation-sized skating rink; a professional ice skater (George Lipchik)
was hired as the first manager of the rink. Occasionally, tryouts for national
skating events would be held there.
224. skating rink was closed in 1984 to make way for a fast food court.
225. Radio Station WPSL in the 1970s. On September 27, 1964, Monroeville’s
radio station, WPSL first began broadcasting. It was an AM station at 1510 on
the dial, with 250 watts of power, and limited to broadcasting during the daytime
hours only.
226. The Monroeville Public Library, located near the Gateway School Complex,
was opened in November 1964.
227. Time Capsule. In 1976, in conjunction with ceremonies marking the
American Bicentennial, a 100-year Time Capsule was designed and built for
Monroeville by Hamill Manufacturing Company of Trafford, and US Steel
Research. The capsule, containing some 100 contemporary articles, rode in a
parade on the back of an antique wagon pulled by the Johnston farm’s
Clydesdales who delivered it to its burial site at “Flag Plaza” on the grounds of
the Old Stone Church.
Appendix: Time Line of Historical Events
1758 - Marking a turning point of the French and Indian War, Fort
Duquesne falls to the British and is re-named Fort Pitt, assuring British
colonial dominance over the western territories.
1769 - The Pennsylvania colonial authorities encourage immigrants to
settle the western frontier. The Johnston family are among the wave of
Scots-Irish immigrants to make the trek westward; the family settles in
the region just east of Pittsburgh.
1780 - A boundary agreement between Virginia and Pennsylvania
establishes the area around Pittsburgh as part of Pennsylvania’s
Westmoreland County.
1788 - The western portion of Westmoreland County is designated as
Plum Township in the newly-established county of Allegheny.
1789 - Captain Robert Johnston, a veteran of the 42nd Regiment of the
American Revolutionary Army, receives a land grant in Westmoreland
Country that he had applied for some 20 years earlier.
1800 - Abraham Taylor, a Philadelphia businessman, who had invested
in a company to operate the new Northern Turnpike toll road from
Philadelphia to Pittsburgh, settles in the area and builds The Rising Sun
Inn at the side of the new road near the tollgate.
1829 - A farmer from Virginia named Joel Monroe purchases a 125-acre
farm and moves here with his young family.
1830 - The McGinley House, a stone farmhouse and local historical
landmark, is built by a stonemason named John McClintock, for the
Matthew Simpson family.
1834 -- John Johnston and Joel Monroe sell a tract of land to the trustees
of the first Crossroads Presbyterian Church for one dollar. This land will
form the basis of the Crossroads Cemetery, which remains an active
cemetery to this day, with the names of many of the pioneering families
(e.g., Aber, Beatty, Clugston, Haymaker, Johnston, McCully, McGinley,
Speelman and Thompson) found on its gravestones.
1849 Plum Township is divided into two separate (north and south)
entities, with the southern portion being named “Patton Township,” -after Judge Benjamin Patton. At that time Patton Township included
parts of present day Turtle Creek, Wilmerding, Wall and Pitcairn, as well
as Monroeville.
1850 - Joel Monroe and his neighbors petition the federal government for
a Post Office for their growing village.
1851 - The post office petition is approved, and Joel Monroe becomes
the first Postmaster, with the Post Office located in his home, along what
is currently William Penn Highway (US Route 22).
1863 - During the Civil War, an artillery firing range was set up in
southern Monroeville just east of the Mosside Bridge as a proving
ground for cannons then being forged at the Fort Pitt Foundry in
1880 - The Pennsylvania Railroad moves its yards and shops from
Pittsburgh to Patton Township establishing the sprawling Pitcairn Yard
that will become a major source of employment for families from
Monroeville for many years.
1888 - The PRR begins construction of the Pitcairn Yard on 215 acres of
farmland along the Turtle Creek Valley.
1889 - George Westinghouse moves his air break manufacturing plant to
Wilmerding, providing yet another source of employment for the
families in Patton Township.
1890 - Portions of Patton Township and the surrounding area begin to
incorporate into smaller government units. Wilmerding incorporates to
become a Borough.
1891 - Oak Hill Mine Number 4 is opened, one of many coalmines that
will be active in Patton Township during the next fifty years.
1892 - Turtle Creek, which traces its roots back to a trading post
established in the 1750s, incorporates to form Turtle Creek Borough.
1894 - A portion of southern Patton Township incorporates into Pitcairn
Borough, named after a Superintendent of the Pennsylvania Railroad.
1894 – George Westinghouse opens his electric equipment
manufacturing plant in East Pittsburgh.
1896 - The Old Stone Church, a Monroeville Landmark, is rebuilt on the
site of the original (1834) church.
1908 - People’s Gas Company extends gas service to Monroeville,
ending the era of the oil lamp in homes.
1912 - Telephone service is extended north from Turtle Creek along
Monroeville Road into Monroeville.
1926 - The William Penn Highway opens, incorporating much of the old
Northern Pike roadway.
1926 - Burke Glen amusement park opens along the William Penn
1943 - Route 22 (the new William Penn Highway) opens as a paved,
two-lane through-road. Later widened to four lanes, it will define the
central east-west commercial corridor through Monroeville.
1946 - The Pittsburgh Outdoor Theater, one of the first drive-in theaters
in the area, opens at the corner of Routes 22 and 48.
1950 - The Pittsburgh Exit of the Pennsylvania Turnpike is established at
1951 - Patton Township is officially re-designated as the Borough of
Monroeville, with the first newly-elected Borough officials taking office
early the following year.
1954 - The Miracle Mile opens. One of the pioneering strip malls in the
country; at the time it opens the Miracle Mile is the first such shopping
mall between New York and Chicago.
1955 - Garden City, one of the first of many plans for affordable
suburban housing, opens in Monroeville.
1955 - The schools of Monroeville and Pitcairn form the MonroevillePitcairn joint Schools. In 1960 the jointure is re-designated as the
Gateway Union School District; in 1965 -- the Gateway School District.
1956 - US Steel moves its laboratories to its new campus-like
Monroeville location, setting the way for the many businesses that follow
in developing Monroeville as a research center.
1958 - Monroeville’s first municipal building is dedicated.
1962 - Monroeville’s first Comprehensive Plan for Growth is issued by
the Planning Commission.
1962 - The eastern extension of the Penn-Lincoln Parkway is completed
linking Monroeville to downtown Pittsburgh by means of a modern
limited-access highway.
1964 - The Monroeville Community Library opens.
1969 - The 150-store Monroeville Mall opens, enhancing Monroeville’s
reputation as a shopping mecca.
1971 - Continuing the trend of major companies locating their research
facilities in Monroeville, Westinghouse opens its Nuclear Energy Center.
1976 - In conjunction with ceremonies marking the American
bicentennial, Monroeville’s 100-year Time Capsule is interred at “Flag
Plaza,” on the grounds of the Old Stone Church.
1976 - Monroeville is re-constituted from a Borough (under the
Pennsylvania Borough Code) to a Municipality (under a Home Rule
1978 - East Suburban Hospital opens its Monroeville Location off
Haymaker Road.
1980 - Johnston’s farm, an active dairy farm and milk delivery business
since 1908, goes out of business and the land is sold to become the site
for the Stonecliff Apartments.
1995 - Kuehn’s Dairy, the last surviving dairy farm in Monroeville,
closes down and the site is sold for the Manor Care Adult Community.
2000 - Monroeville’s second municipal building is dedicated.
2006 - Monroeville’s Community Center and Park is dedicated.

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