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Mt. Lebanon historical society hopes to get a home

Pittsburgh Tribune ReviewBy Craig Smith
Thursday, July 12, 2007

A Mt. Lebanon historical group wants to move its collection of artifacts from homes and rented storage space to its first permanent home.

The Historical Society of Mount Lebanon, organized in 1998, hopes to sublease the basement of a building owned by the Mt. Lebanon Parking Authority and recently asked the municipality for help paying for the plan.

A central repository for its collection will be key to the society’s continued growth, said Margaret Jackson of Dormont, the group’s president.

“I just feel that when we have that physical space, people will get excited,” she said.

Among the artifacts accumulated are children’s clothing from the 1890s, photographs and newspaper clippings, and 66 Mt. Lebanon High School yearbooks — including the school’s first, from 1931.
It also has a board game called “The Game of Mt. Lebanon.”

Copies of plat books from 1934 showing the streets and subdivisions of Mt. Lebanon are stored in the living room of Wallace F. Workmaster, 73, the group’s first president.

The retired museum administrator and college professor said the documents are “marvelous research tools” that help show the community’s growth.

“If you’re trying to look at the evolution of a community, you want to know why they built what, and when,” he said.

An 1876 map of Scott shows the village of Mt. Lebanon contained 10 homes, a school, a blacksmith’s shop, a church and a general store, Workmaster said.

A permanent home for the society would preserve the history of a community whose growth was tied to the development of the automobile, he said.

Street cars began running from Pittsburgh to Mt. Lebanon in 1901, but it was the advent of “the rubber-tired vehicle that made Mt. Lebanon,” Workmaster said.

“In 1912, there were six registered automobiles in Mt. Lebanon,” he said. “By July, they were debating putting speed limits on Washington Road.”

By 1934, many families in Mt. Lebanon had two cars, Workmaster said.

The historical society’s request for $2,500 to help defray the cost of its new home could be added to next year’s budget or be paid this year, said Mt. Lebanon Commissioner David Humphreys, who says the idea of having a place for displaying the municipality’s history is important.

The commissioners haven’t formally discussed the issue of helping fund the society’s move, said Steve Feller, Mt. Lebanon manager. Work on next year’s budget will begin in November.

Craig Smith can be reached at or (412) 380-5646.

Pittsburgh History & Landmarks Foundation

100 West Station Square Drive, Suite 450

Pittsburgh, PA 15219

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