Sited on rolling hills near the geographic center of Westmoreland County, Greensburg has served as the county seat since 1786, supplanting Hanna's Town northeast of the city. Three reconstructed log houses and a log fort on Old Hanna's Town Road (PA 1032) mark that site. Christopher Truby of Bucks County and William Jack laid out a sixty-acre grid of streets in the 1770s, reserving a two-acre site for the new courthouse. Truby named the settlement Newtown, but in 1799, it was incorporated as the borough of Greensburg to honor Nathanael Greene, a general in the American Revolution under whom many local men served.
Located along the historic Forbes Road between Ligonier and Pittsburgh, Greensburg became the commercial center for this largely agrarian county. The first turnpike connected Harrisburg to Pittsburgh via Greensburg in 1821. In the late nineteenth century, approximately twenty-five coal and coke operators worked the rich coal deposits in the surrounding area, reaching peak production between 1916 and 1919. Consequently, Greensburg became a banking center with seven major banks. Today, it is a shopping and professional center focused around the activities of the courthouse and local colleges. Surrounding the courthouse ( WE1), the centerpiece of downtown, are several major buildings, including the Westmoreland Museum of American Art designed by Sorber and Hoone in 1958 (221 N. Main Street); the Palace Theater, formerly Manos Theatre, a Renaissance Revival design of 1926–1927 by Leon H. Lempert and Son (21 W. Otterman Street); and the Classical Revival former Barclay-Westmoreland Trust, now Mellon Bank, of 1928 (1 N. Main Street). Since the 1990s, the Westmoreland Cultural Trust has been actively restoring handsome buildings and returning them to use, notably the Stark-James Building, home to the Westmoreland County Historical Society (1889; 33–41 W. Otterman Street). Greensburg's YMCA is a four-story brick Renaissance Revival building (1913, Paul A. Bartholomew; 101 S. Maple Avenue).
Residential areas remain near the courthouse hilltop. The 300, 400, and 500 blocks of N. Maple Avenue have a fine collection of brick Queen Anne and Colonial Revival two-story houses dating from 1890 to 1910. West of downtown along W. Pittsburgh Street and neighboring streets between Division and Westminster streets is another group of substantial brick Colonial Revival houses, including the Barclay House of 1904 by Alden and Harlow and the c. 1840 Jeremiah Burrell House (133 Morey Place), with Greek Revival and Italianate details.
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