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Collier to Preserve Historic Photographs

Thursday, December 23, 2010
By Carole Gilbert Brown

The decision by Collier commissioners to spend $1,134.20 to scan and frame historical township photographs is an award winner for Gene Czambel, 67, of Steen Hollow Road.

Mr. Czambel, a lifelong resident who traces his family’s roots in Collier back to 1882, has been on a crusade for several years to preserve the township’s history through photographs and other memorabilia.

He has offered 16 photos from the Beechmont area and beyond to be scanned and framed so that residents can view them in the township building and the Nike Site property. Many date back to the early 20th century and late 19th century.

If the township forms a historical society, he promises to donate the originals, as well as about 30 more historical photographs.

“I have a museum here between my dad, grandfather and great-grandfather,” he said.

But, with no descendants, he adds, “When I’m gone, it’s gone.”

Among the approximately 50 photos are shots of the Pittsburgh Coal Co.’s Essen No. 2 Mine in Burdine, a photograph of the now-gone Beechmont School with his mother shown, too, as well as pictures of the former town of Hickman, which was named after farmer Joseph Hickman but developed by Mr. Czambel’s great-grandfather, who was an engineer and entrepreneur.

Burdine, Beechmont and Hickman have been incorporated into what is now Collier.

The town burned down in a fire, but included at one time a post office, store, and a hotel with a bar. Mr. Czambel even has photographs of the fire.

Mr. Czambel has donated photographs to other area communities, too, including Bridgeville, Carnegie and Oakdale.

Besides photographs, he possesses historical memorabilia, too. For example, the cement pads that once were in front of the boys’ and girls’ outhouses at Beechmont School are now in his front yard.

Anyone interested in donating historical photographs or memorabilia, or in helping to form a historical society, should contact the township.

Pittsburgh History & Landmarks Foundation

100 West Station Square Drive, Suite 450

Pittsburgh, PA 15219

Phone: 412-471-5808  |  Fax: 412-471-1633