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Ebensburg

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The Reverend Morgan J. Rees, a Welsh Baptist minister, laid Ebensburg's grid plan over a rounded hill in the early 1790s, naming it after his eldest son, Eben. It was settled mostly by Rees's followers in 1796, who arrived in the second wave of Welsh immigration after the colonial era. The town became the county seat in 1805 by virtue of its proximity to the geographical center of the county, and in 1825, was made a borough. As late as 1873, Welsh descendents were still the largest ethnic group in Ebensburg and the surrounding township.

Less industrial than Johnstown, Ebensburg's economy revolves around the courthouse, which sits atop a hill visible for miles and was donated by the Lloyd family of Welsh ancestry. A six-block area north of the courthouse between Beech and Poplar streets contains a good representation of handsome houses. The Bissell-Kimball house, for example, built for Annie M. Bissell in 1890 (615 W. Highland Avenue) and mistakenly attributed to McKim, Mead and White because of its Colonial Revival sophistication and handsome interior fittings, is more likely a design by Beezer Brothers of Altoona or another regional firm. Today, the house is occupied by the architectural engineering firm of L. Robert Kimball and Associates, who built a large addition at the rear. The Cambria County Historical Society (615 N. Center Street), which resides in an orange brick Queen Anne house built in 1889 for bank president A. W. Buck, has a wraparound porch, turret, and round-arched windows.

Writing Credits

Author: 
Lu Donnelly et al.

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