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
















11 comments:

  1. I used to live in 10th ward.

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  2. AnonymousMay 26, 2015

    I lived in 10th Ward for 18 years. I attended West Side Elementary on Atlantic Avenue for 8 years, then Shaw Avenue Nineth Grade School and then McKeesport Technical High School graduating from there in 1946. 10th Ward was a great place to grow up. Everybody knew everyone that lived in the neighborhood and everyone watched and cared for all. The Methodist and Presbyterian churches were the gathering places for many. McKeesport Little Pirates, a Minor League team played at Sycler Park. 10th Ward football and baseball teams played there. It was a gathering place of sports-minded males. Circuses would perform at the park. On snow days, the young could sled ride from West Fifth Avenue across the railroad tracks to Pacific Avenue. What a ride! Kids would be on Pacific Avenue giving the wave that no cars or busses were coming. West Side Methodist softball team would play all church teams in the McKeesport area with games at Renzie Park. West Side Methodist Dart Ball team would play church and other Dart Ball teams in the surrounding area. The Dart board was laid out as a baseball diamond and thus the game was called Dart Ball. 10th Ward contributed many to the services of World War II, with West Side Methodist having 81 young men and women in service, with some making the supreme sacrifice. A monument stands in the Ward in their honor. Unfortunately McKeesport politicians have contributed to the neglect of 10th Ward by allowing slum lords to move in. They have placed multiple families in one family residential homes. Homes and buildings in a current state of abandoned neglect should be demolished and/or rehabbed into 21st century homes and businesses. McKeesport today looks like a bombed out city of World War II. Shame on the politicians allowing this destruction. Shame on voters for voting non-productive politicians into office again and again. Shame on far too many people with their “I don’t care” lifestyles for contributing to this disgrace.

    I was married in Grandview Avenue Methodist Church in November 1950. I was drafted in January 1951 and served two years in the US Army. I returned to McKeesport and then moved to Maryland in 1959. My sister and husband still live in White Oak. Visiting McKeesport over the years brings to mind the thought of what this city could have become under the right leadership of those with vision to see amazing city transformation possibilities and make it happen, with strength to do what needs to be done for teaching and requiring responsible law abiding citizenship, and with the fortitude for championing solutions to the needs of this city and its residents.

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  3. I grew up as a little boy in 10th ward. I actually lived in West Mifflin but spent many days and nights staying at my grand parents who lived above the Columbia bar and Grill. I have so many fond memories. Larsons Drug Store, Putz store, A&P, Pacific Bakery to name a few. I had friends in the neighborhood as well. I could go on and on.

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  4. I grew up in 10th ward in the 80's. It was still a great little area then, when kids could still run the streets all day. It's sad to see what has become of it. I always drive through when I'm in the area for a visit. Thanks for sharing your pictures. I know most of the homes you photographed. And the church, I would cut through almost daily to get from the playground to Hood's corner store.

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  5. I had friends.....Jimmy, Sonny, and Bobby Boweres.....Thelma Figas, and the Kozak Boys. My Pap was Sam Gillingham who lived above the Columbia Bar and Grill.

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  6. My dad had family in 10th ward. I recognized the brick row house they lived in. I'm surprised it's still a neighborhood considering the state of the town. Grew up in Crawford. Was family friendly but now...��

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  7. AnonymousJune 24, 2017

    I grew up in upper and lower tenth ward. The house I lived in was before the row houses and was upset when I road through there one day to see how different it was from when I living there. Tenth Ward was a great place to live neighbors were all friendly we all looked out for each other. Like I said it's unreal I couldn't believe the difference in that place. I remember putz's store , Zosack's , the bakery, we would play softball down were the A& P STORE used to be. Hang out by the marina with my friends that was the good old days.

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  8. I still live in 10th Ward. I moved back here almost 3 years ago. I'm living in the house I grew up in. I'm fixing it up, and I'm taking care of my property. There are still people down here that care about 10th Ward, and we are trying to keep it a nice place to live.

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    Replies
    1. Cuz ShellJune 28, 2017

      And you're doing a fantastic job, Anna! If we could clone you a few hundred times 10th Ward could return to it's former self. Thanks, Anna!

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  9. My grandparents built in Lower 10th ward in the 1920's and my sweet mother was born there in the late 20s. After my grandmother passed in 1950 my mother inherited the house. My mother and father raised us there until the early 70s. We went to West Side and enjoyed a wonderful time there. Penny candy a try Zosacks. Candy bars from Larson Drug store and sledding on the ramp. Sowa's rooftop playground and lots of biking.

    My mother always had fond memories which she would rely of growing up there.She missed it when we left. No jobs and neighborhood decay forced them to leave.

    However on the bright side doing a Google map I see those she sold the house have taken care of her. I learned afterwArds what a coal cellar and fruit cellar are. I wish I had these in my home now for produce and storage.

    Sad to see much is disrepair.

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  10. I lived in 10th ward as a little girl. One of the houses shown was where i lived. Can't believe how they have let it run down. We use to sled ride down the alley hill and turn down by river. That was when i was grown with a family. My aunt has lived there forever.A fire many years ago took the life of my cousin when she was 14 years old. I loved living there

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