Historical Society of Mt. Lebanon offers tours to explore town's architecture, churches, cemetery
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If you'd like to get to know Mt. Lebanon better than what you can see on a casual drive along Washington Road, then you might want to sign up for guided walking tours offered by the town's historical society.
History buffs can pick from a tour that focuses on Mt. Lebanon's commerce and architecture, one on churches titled Saints and Stained Glass and a Halloween-themed walk through the Mt. Lebanon Cemetery called Graves and Goblins. Tours cost $5 for historical society members and $10 for nonmembers.
"Although we can handle pretty large groups, space is limited and we're asking for reservations," said Gwyn Cready, a Historical Society of Mount Lebanon board member. "Patrons won't have to walk much more than a few blocks, but they'll stand for most of the 1 1/2 hour-long tours."
The commerce and architecture tour will begin at 6 p.m. July 19 and will run again at 10 a.m. Oct. 6. Participants meet at the historical society's History Center, 200 Lebanon Ave., near Washington Road.
"During the tour, we'll discuss the history and architecture of the business district," Ms. Cready said. "This will include the municipal building, built in the art deco style in 1930 -- a stunning creation constructed at a time when most municipal buildings across the country were much more prosaic."
According to Ms. Cready, the building was completed before the Chrysler Building, an art deco landmark in Manhattan.
"At the time, there were a lot of people in town who thought the design was an eyesore and rallied against it," she said. "Now, we're very excited to have it."
Another building, dubbed the Nesbitt House, is across from the historical society. Evelyn Nesbitt, a native of Tarentum, was born in 1884 and became an artists' model and showgirl. However, she's best known as the cause of what was called the "trial of the century" in which her first husband, Pittsburgh-born Harry Thaw, was accused of murdering New York architect, Stanford White, with whom Ms. Nesbitt had had an affair.
After the trial, Ms. Nesbitt bought the Mt. Lebanon house for her mother, who she frequently visited. Currently, the house is privately owned.
The Saints and Stained Glass tour -- offered at 6 p.m. Aug. 7 and Sept. 18 -- will begin in front of St. Bernard's Roman Catholic Church. In addition to discussing the history of the church, as well as that of the Mt. Lebanon United Presbyterian Church, the tour will focus on St. Bernard's 27 major stained-glass windows.
"The windows were created by Alfred Fisher of Whitefriar Stained Glass Windows in Middlesex, England," said Patricia Calvelo, the board member who wrote the tour information on both churches. "Interestingly, the first nave window on the right includes the figure of a small white friar as well as Fisher's signature."
The oldest church congregation in town, the Mt. Lebanon United Presbyterian Church traces its roots to a tent structure built in 1804. A prefab church took its place in 1806, and for the next 80 years, the church was the only one in town. The current brick edifice dates to 1934.
"The north transept window, created by Horace Rudy of York, Pa., is especially vibrant with purple and gold colors," Mrs. Calvelo said. "It also has an unusual depiction of the Virgin Mary, shown with a yellow instead of the customary blue robe."
The Graves and Goblins tour, scheduled for 5:15 p.m. Oct. 29, will meet in front of the main gate at Mt. Lebanon Cemetery and will explore some of the noteworthy people buried there as well as details on some of the tombstones. To maintain the mood of Halloween, guides also will recite ghost stories associated with the town.
"The mission of the historical society is to interpret and preserve the history of Mt. Lebanon," Ms. Cready said. "Our center opened three years ago and stages rotating exhibits that are open to the public. We also organize three to five lectures each year that are held free of charge in the Mt. Lebanon Public Library."
The center's current exhibit, "Mt. Lebanon's First Hundred Years," pays tribute to the town's 2012 centenary. Past exhibits have explored topics such as soccer and transportation and the Washington School.
The center is open from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Thursdays and from 9 a.m. to noon Saturdays. Information and to register: 412-418-9348.
First Published June 28, 2012 5:17 am