Thursday, November 6, 2014

Protect the Duane Michals Home in McKeesport

My friends at McKeesport Preservation Society have started their first crowdfunding campaign to acquire, stabilize, and preserve the Duane Michals home on High Street in McKeesport. Duane Michals is a legendary photographer who grew up in McKeesport. His childhood home, and the street it was on, is now abandoned and overgrown, like a ghost town. McKeesport Preservation Society intends to buy the property, stabilize the foundation and porch of the house (the rest is sadly falling in), and clean up the grounds. You can read more about the project, and make a donation at the link below.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Donora: YPA Top 10 Preservation Opportunities

The Young Preservationists Association has selected their yearly #YPAtop10 Preservation Opportunities, and among them is historic McKean Avenue in Donora's downtown business district. Like much of the Mon Valley, and many older rust belt cities and river towns, Donora has seen decline due to regional deindustrialization, suburbanization, and other economic and social conditions. This leaves many beautiful antique buildings, and a functional and walkable business district, at significant risk for deterioration and demolition. Certainly, it would be more interesting to live in a real town like Donora, than a cul-de-sac in Sprawlville, or maybe I'm crazy.

Anyway, if you would like to see my other photos of Donora, and my other Mon Valley photo tours, please visit:

Meanwhile, Young Preservationists Association is holding their annual Top Ten Preservation Opportunities Release Party on October 21 at 6:30pm, at the North Side Elks Lodge. Tickets are $30 and the public is welcome. I will be there to gratefully accept the Michael Eversmeyer Promise Award, and look forward to seeing you! More information is available here:

Downtown Donora, PA

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

McKeesport - The Lower 10th Ward

Here I have taken some effort to photograph what appear to be the earliest surviving houses from the lower 10th Ward of McKeesport, Pennsylvania. Of particular interest to me were the modest two-bay Victorians, or "mill houses," which were a vernacular style common to the Mon Valley during the 19th century.

This neighborhood was once a separate borough incorporated in 1886, and known as Reynoldton. Reynoldton was annexed by the city of McKeesport in 1898, and became the 10th Ward.

According the the History of Allegheny County, by Thomas Cushing, Reynoldton was founded and laid out by Thomas Reynolds in the 1860s. The town grew rapidly after 1883, when the Youghiogheny Suspension Bridge opened and connected the small town more efficiently with booming downtown McKeesport.

The lower 10th Ward is one of McKeesport's older surviving neighborhoods.

Two-bay Victorian, "Mill House" vernacular style.

Row-houses, post-1900

American Foursquare

Two-bay Victorian, "Mill House" vernacular style.

Alley houses (vacant)

Alley houses (vacant)
West Side United Methodist Church

Two-bay Victorian, "Mill House" vernacular style