Historical society proposed, site sought in Collier

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With a colorful history spanning about 250 years and a bright future ahead, some Collier officials and residents think it's time to start a historical society to keep track of the township's archived documents, written history, photographs and other memorabilia.

But first planners need a site ... or maybe two.

"Right now I just want a room where we can start putting things," Collier Manager Sal Sirabella said.

But another room may be needed, too, to display the collected items. The municipal building on Hilltop Road is filled to capacity with township offices, he said.

There may be some space at the 72-acre Collier Community Park, now under construction on Nike Site Road, but it wouldn't be available for another 18 months, Mr. Sirabella projected.

He has dispatched Collier native Mary Lou Kientz, a member of the township's parks and recreation committee, to look for other options.

There has been talk of establishing a regional historical society with Carnegie and the Chartiers Valley communities. But it appears that the Historical Society of Carnegie on West Main Street may not be available.

Though the building is four stories high, only the first floor is habitable, said Marcella McGrogan, the historical society's founder and president, "We have no space."

She would love to restore the three upper floors, damaged by age and a 2005 fire, but estimates at least $3.5 million would be needed for the work. For health reasons, Mrs. McGrogan has taken some time off this summer, but plans to resume her duties as president soon.

Mr. Sirabella said a historical society has not been set up yet in Collier, but thinks one would come together quickly if a collection point was established. Several years ago, resident Gene Czambel donated some historical photographs to the township that are displayed in the main meeting room.

Doreen Ducsay of Rennerdale thinks there may be room in the municipal building lobby to display some additional memorabilia.

But historical memorabilia isn't the only thing Collier is looking for at this point, Mr. Sirabella said.

Noting that the township's numerous neighborhoods emerged from the many railroad and mining camps, he said he believes there are many interesting personal family stories yet to be told.

He already has put some historical data about Fort Pitt, Presto, Rennerdale and the Walkers Mill neighborhoods on the township's website, www.colliertownship.net, but believes there are many more tales out there.

"We need to fill in the blanks on each neighborhood's history," he said.

For history lovers, the Walker-Ewing Log House at 1355 Noblestown Rd. in Collier will be open to the public from 1 to 3 p.m. Saturday.The house, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, is owned and maintained by the Pioneers West Historical Society. Light refreshments will be served.

Information: 412-279-9408 or 412-221-7297.


Carole Gilbert Brown, freelance writer: suburbanliving@post-gazette.com.


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