Mount Pleasant historic house tour includes log buildings, industrialists' mansions

Sep. 3—Mt. Pleasant-area homes that have endured for generations will be showcased this month during the Westmoreland Historical Society's latest Historic House Tour.

The self-guided tour runs from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sept. 16. It includes stops at four houses in Mt. Pleasant Borough and three dwellings in neighboring Mt. Pleasant Township that date from between the 1780s and the early 20th century.

To kick off the event, a separate Toast the Tour party from 6 to 8 p.m. Friday invites guests to enjoy cocktails and a private tour of a circa 1929 Tudor-style home in Hempfield that has undergone a five-year renovation.

The tour itinerary is tied to the year-long celebration of Westmoreland County's founding in 1773.

"We wanted to honor the 250th anniversary of the county," said Lisa Hays, executive director of the historical society. "Mt. Pleasant is one of the original townships, and it wasn't a place we had featured yet on a tour.

"We had a wonderful partner in the Daughters of the American Revolution."

Warden Mansion

The DAR Braddock Trail Chapter will welcome tour participants to Mt. Pleasant Borough's Samuel Warden Mansion, which the organization has owned and preserved since 1962. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the 1886 house at Church and Walnut streets serves as a meeting place for the chapter and houses a genealogical library that is available to the public from April through September.

The chapter annually opens the home's doors for a holiday Festival of Lights display.

"All the woodwork in the house is walnut," said Rosalind Ashmun, DAR chapter registrar. "That was a statement at the time that they had money. Normally, you wouldn't have been able to get all that walnut after the Civil War because it was always used for gunstock."

Accompanied by a summer kitchen, the three-story Warden home features a mansard roof and a Queen Anne-style window. The chapter is in the process of re-pointing the brick exterior.

Inside, Ashmun said, the chapter is working to fill the smaller of the home's two living rooms with works depicting scenes from the Revolutionary War.

Warden started his career in farming before becoming a prominent coal operator. He was director of the First National Bank of Mt. Pleasant; in 1889, he served a term as burgess of the town, which was laid out in 1797 and was incorporated as a borough in 1828.

Ashmun noted Warden was friends with another industrial family whose borough home also is part of the tour.

The Andrew H. Bryce Mansion was built in about 1904 by a member of a clan that operated a glass works in town for four generations, until the company was sold to Lenox Incorporated in 1965.

Situated on 5 acres now called the Chatfield Estate, the Colonial Revival-style house boasts three floors, six bedrooms, a three-quarter wraparound porch and original pocket doors and hardwood floors. A large suite once functioned as a doctor's office.

Historical society sites

Two log houses at 422 Washington St. owned by the Mt. Pleasant Area Historical Society will be open to the public on the day of the tour.

Built in about 1786, the Overly Log House was moved from its original hillside site in Armbrust, where it was damaged in a 1970s fire and had much of its second floor replaced. In 2007, the Overly family donated it to the historical society, which reassembled it in the borough, added modern amenities and adapted it as its headquarters.

It sits next to the single-story Chestnut Log House, which features a loft and has been restored to its original 1820s appearance. Most of the logs in its walls are original and were cut from American chestnut trees, a once-dominant species in the region that was decimated by blight beginning in the late 1800s.

For many years, the original log house was hidden inside a later frame structure. It was uncovered in 2004, when the house was slated for demolition, and was restored by the historical society with the help of state grants and private donations.

At the time, Florida resident Jake Thomas shared with the Tribune-Review his childhood memories of living in the house from 1926 to 1935. "We never knew there was another house here," Thomas said. "The cabin was our kitchen."

The Mt. Pleasant society will have historians on hand at its log houses during the Sept. 16 tour.

"We're going to be here to answer questions about Mt. Pleasant history and to show the artifacts that we have," said society President Rick Meason.

That includes a pot-bellied stove, a grinding wheel and items relating to the community's coal, coke and glass industries.

Township sites

Proceeding into Mt. Pleasant Township, tour participants will discover the Gothic Revival home of John McAdams Jr. It was constructed during the Civil War era on Braddock Road Avenue using locally sourced black walnut timber.

Born in Greensburg, McAdams operated a tree nursery on the property. He also designed, planted and managed the Mt. Pleasant Cemetery, located across the road just inside the borough limits.

Located along Hamel Road, at the border of Westmoreland and Fayette counties, the John Lobingier House was built of hewed logs sometime during the decade ending in 1795. It served as a tavern and stagecoach stop for some years.

Lobingier took the federal government's side during Southwestern Pennsylvania's 1794 Whiskey Rebellion and allowed troops to camp at his grist mill. He served in Pennsylvania's legislature and was a Westmoreland County associate judge from 1820 to 1840.

Thomas Hurst built his brick home in 1812 on 305 acres of farmland along Hecla Road. Its 2 1/2 story main section and 1 1/2 story wings incorporate elements of Georgian and Federal architectural styles. Passing through another family, it was included in property sold in 1934 to the federal government for creation of a New Deal community originally called Westmoreland Homesteads and later named Norvelt.

Since 1946, the house has once more been in private hands.

Kickoff party

The Toast the Tour party will feature hearty hors d'oeuvres by Rizzo's. It will take place at the Cote House, located in Hempfield's Maplewood Terrace section. It originally was the family home of Joseph Lacasse Cote, a partner in the Troutman's department store in downtown Greensburg.

Also known locally as Grey Gables or the Bishop's House, the home was sold to the Catholic Diocese of Greensburg in 1958 and gained a one-story chapel extension at its front. It has been under new ownership since 2016.

Jeff Himler is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Jeff by email at or via Twitter .