horizontal banner with Preserve America logo and images of a historic downtown, farm, courthouse, and mountain

Preserve America is a national initiative in cooperation with the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation; the U.S. Departments of Defense, Interior, Agriculture, Commerce, Housing and Urban Development, Transportation, and Education; the National Endowment for the Humanities; the President's Committee on the Arts and Humanities; and the President's Council on Environmental Quality.

Preserve America Community:
Scottdale Borough, Pennsylvania

Scottdale, Pennsylvania, (population 4,616) was named after Col. Thomas A. Scott, who was assistant secretary of War during the Civil War. After the war, Col. Scott was the president of the Pennsylvania Railroad at the time when it opened its Scottdale branch in the spring of 1873. The original name of the community was “Fountain Mills,” after the several mills in the area and a local well referred to as a fountain. The name changed to the borough of Scottdale when the borough was incorporated on February 5, 1874.

Fall Festival ParadeScottdale was located in the midst of hundreds of mining companies in the early 1900s. Over 30,000 coke ovens were located in the Scottdale area. The railroad was used to ship coal and coke across the country. After the stock market crash of 1929, Scottdale was hit hard by great industrial losses. However, some businesses managed to survive. New factories and businesses continued to open over the years.

The Coal and Coke Bike Trail highlights Scottdale's industrial history. The five-and-a-half-mile trail follows the route taken in the early 1900s to ship coal and coke throughout the country. Volunteers helped to clear the trail, removing 24 tons of trash, eight tons of recyclable scrap, and 4,850 tires. The trail is run by a volunteer organization, the Coal and Coke Chapter of the Regional Trail Corporation, a non-profit that promotes the conversion of abandoned railroad corridors to recreational trails.

The Geyer Performing Arts Center is a historic theater originally built in 1900 as an opera house and a home for vaudeville. The Performing Arts Center board worked with many local groups to restore the theater, located within the National Register of Historic Places-listed Scottdale Historic District. A Westmoreland County Department of Corrections work crew provided free labor to rebuild the ticket counter, install shelving, complete plaster work, install new seating, refinish floors, paint, repair wiring, and install ceiling fans. The local Masonic Lodge donated new seats, while the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development awarded a grant to update heating, ventilation, and air conditioning systems. The restored theater now houses productions by eight local community theater groups.

The third weekend of each September, Scottdale hosts its annual Fall Festival. The festival committee chooses a theme each year that celebrates a facet of Scottdale's history. The event includes a Saturday parade, entertainment, crafts, food booths, a 10K/5K race, and a classic car show. The event is a homecoming weekend for many former Scottdale residents.

The Southmoreland School District recently completed a new middle school and renovated an elementary school. Both designs feature an architectural history lesson about Scottdale. The elementary school reflects Scottdale's agricultural heritage, with a “silo” gathering place and an entrance design reminiscent of a barn. The middle school features a wing depicting a downtown streetscape, a tribute to the main street of the community. A collage of historic photographs is located inside the middle school.

For more information:

Scottdale Chamber of Commerce: www.scottdale.com

Geyer Performing Arts Center: www.geyerpac.com

Scottdale Fall Festival: www.scottdalefallfestival.org

Posted August 3, 2009

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