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Connellsville and Vicinity

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Connellsville, on the east bank of the Youghiogheny River, was laid out in 1790 as 180 quarter-acre lots by surveyor and land agent Virginian Zachariah Connell; it was incorporated in 1806. Initially, Connellsville's growth centered on the west bank village of New Haven, the location of Isaac Meason's large woolen factory and paper mill. In 1812, a wooden bridge connected Connellsville to New Haven and the two communities were combined in 1909. In 1833, an English immigrant named Nicholls supervised construction of the first beehive coke oven in Fayette County on Connell Run. It used the pure, low-sulfur coal that distinguishes the area. Connellsville became a major site in the history of local coal mining. The need to transport coal brought the railroads. Both the Baltimore and Ohio and the Pittsburgh and Lake Erie railroads served Connellsville after 1883. Today, part of their rail bed from McKeesport has become a portion of the Great Allegheny Passage rails to trails system. The heyday of Connellsville is reflected in its large brick houses dating from the 1890s, substantial brick and stone–faced banks, and nearly a dozen churches. The St. Emory Hungarian Roman Catholic Church, now Faith Bible Church (1904–1905; 425 S. Arch Street), was designed by Titus de Bobula, and while it has undergone some unsympathetic alterations, it is a rare work by this idiosyncratic architect. The high-rise Aaron Building (1906; 139 N. Pittsburgh Street), a popular furniture store until 1978, has an unusual recessed domed entrance.

Writing Credits

Author: 
Lu Donnelly et al.

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