Isaac Robb laid out West Newton in 1796 on a southwest slope along the Youghiogheny River, naming it for his hometown, Newton, New Jersey. Prior to the construction of the National Road in the early nineteenth century, West Newton was a shipbuilding port on the river. The Pittsburgh and Connellsville Railroad brought further growth in 1855, with West Newton serving as a midpoint between the two towns. West Newton is laid out on a grid plan with Main Street perpendicular to the river and lined with frame and brick late-nineteenth-century Queen Anne and Italianate houses and brick commercial buildings. Notable among these are the mansard-roofed house of c. 1870 at 303 Main Street, the brick commercial building at the corner of Main and 4th streets, and the brick First United Methodist Church, an early J. C. Fulton commission (1883; 106 N. 2nd Street).
A bridge company was created to build a three-span covered bridge with stone abutments across the Youghiogheny c. 1834. In 1906, the present three-span Parker truss bridge replaced the covered bridge, using what appear to be the original stone abutments and piers. John Plumer's house overlooking the Youghiogheny River (131 Water Street) shows the evolution of his fortunes, the frame portion built just after his marriage in 1814 and the brick portion in 1846 after his success as a mill owner, justice of the peace, and contractor for the covered bridge nearby. West Newton's Baltimore and Ohio passenger station (1893, Ephraim Francis Baldwin for Baldwin and Pennington; Vine and S. 1st streets), with irregular roofline, wide eaves, large wooden brackets, and canted bay, draws from the late-nineteenth-century Queen Anne and Shingle styles. The railroad continues to use the passenger station as well as the freight station on Water Street.
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