Pennsylvania has many beautiful small towns, but Brookville is among its finest. Nestled into the hillside away from the floodplain created by the convergence of North Fork and Sandy Lick creeks, which join to create Red Bank Creek, the borough was surveyed and plotted by John Sloan in June 1830, and designated the county seat due to its central location. Today, the courthouse looms above the small-scale, red brick commercial core and churches that dot the hillsides. A series of fires in the 1870s necessitated the rebuilding of several blocks of the commercial district, but the town has retained many of its older buildings and has a pleasant mix of residential and commercial uses. The wide Main Street allows for comfortable parking and ease of access. Since 1983, Brookville has been designated part of the National Trust for Historic Preservation's Main Street program (founded 1981). Aided by the nonprofit Historic Brookville, Inc., the local property owners and merchants have created a thriving downtown, either reusing restored buildings or, in two cases, constructing compatible new ones.
Brookville's creeks were heavily used for shipping and were named public highways in 1817. The Susquehanna and Waterford Turnpike traversed the town after 1824. Most of the buildings, however, postdate the Civil War and reflect the arrival of the Allegheny Valley Railroad in 1873 and various coalshipping lines that opened later and operated until the 1940s. Today, PA 36 and PA 28 lend access directly to Brookville. But it was the placement of I-80 through the northern reaches of the town that has allowed it to retain its nineteenth-century character by keeping the largest stores and motels outside of the older commercial district.
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