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Ligonier and Vicinity

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Situated along Loyalhanna Creek with dramatic views of Chestnut Ridge and Laurel Hill, Ligonier is the commercial center of Ligonier Valley. Laid out in 1817 by Colonel John Ramsey, Ligonier was named for the French and Indian War fort of 1758, which was reconstructed in the 1960s and is marked by the stone Fort Ligonier Museum of 1961, designed by Charles Morse Stotz, at the intersection of U.S. 30 and PA 711. The town's grid plan includes a central square (called a diamond in the region) at the junction of its main roads, similar to the Holmes plan of 1682 for Philadelphia. Originally used for open markets and hitching horses, the diamond became a green space with a bandstand during the City Beautiful movement of the 1890s. The chamber of commerce commissioned architect Charles Stotz to design a town hall, library, new bandstand, and other commercial buildings around the diamond in the late 1960s and early 1970s in a colonial style. The blue stone Romanesque Revival Heritage United Methodist Church (1902–1903; Main and S. Market streets) anchors one corner of the square. Farther west along Main Street are two former Ligonier Valley Railroad stations, a frame passenger station of 1878, and to the northwest the glazed terra-cotta station (1909–1910) at W. Main and S. Walnut streets, which, since 2002, has housed the Ligonier Valley School District Central Administrative offices. Across Main Street is an Art Deco armory of red brick with limestone trim (1938; 358 W. Main Street).

While the railroad spurred the growth of coal mines and lumbering, the desire to retreat to the country, coupled with the freedom provided by the 1915 opening of the Lincoln Highway, inspired the construction of Ligonier Beach, a unique roadside establishment east of Ligonier. The complex, along a bend in Loyalhanna Creek, consists of a 400 × 125–foot pool surrounded by sand and grass beaches built in 1925. A white frame concession stand, bathhouse, and pumphouse, dating to the 1950s, were followed by a band shell, adjoining dance floor, and miniature golf course. Although the popularity of dining and dancing at the beach waned, the stream-fed cool water still draws many to this neon-signed oasis. Residential styles in Ligonier run the gamut, but most of the building stock dates from 1870 to 1910.

Writing Credits

Lu Donnelly et al.

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