Education

Johnstown Area Heritage Association
Additional Johnstown Sites

Johnstown's Inclined Plane

Main Walking Tour of Old Westmont

 

Introduction

From its early years, Johnstown's Cambria Iron Company recognized the relationship between plentiful, low-cst housing and a satisfied work force.  As early as 1856, just four years after the company's founding, the Cambria Iron Company owned 200 houses in Johnstown, which it rented or sold to workers.

Over the years, the company built approximately 2,000 residential buildings.  These ranged from wooden shanties with no modern conveniences, erected hastily to handle the influx of workers for the Gautier Mill, to wood and brick structures with modern services (sometimes at no cost) that were rented to skilled workers.

But the apogee of Cambria Iron Company's years as a landlord came shortly after the 1889 Flood, when Yoder's Hill, overlooking the city from the west, was turned into a residential development, served by the Inclined Plane.  There, 600 acres of pastureland the iron company had used for the horses and mules that worked in the company mines became a housing development.  The project was given to landscape architect Charles R. Miller, who had designed the Philadelphia Centennial Grounds in 1876 and Grandview Cemetery a few years earlier.

Westmont, which became a borough in 1892, is commonly though today to have been a wealthy community, but the first houses the iron company erected, pre-dating the Incline, were a series of tenement houses rented to day laborers.  From the beginning, Westmont was intended to be a mixed development.  The reputation may have arisen because many of the homes closest to the Incline were built for management personnel, and the later Elm Grove development along Luzerne Street was intended for those of upper income.  However, throughout the rest of Westmont, the houses of superintendents and foremen were mingled with those of skilled and unskilled workers to create a community.

Housing built by the iron company served as rental units, but was intended to be sold off to employees at low cost, with mortgages available through the Westmont Land and Development Co., Ltd., a company formed by Cambria Iron.  The company's slogan was that good housing, made available by the company, would help keep employees living in the area and loyal to their employers.

Westmont was developed in two sections with the main growth from 1892-1905 in the older district and around World War I in the newer district.

The Walking Tour

Edgehill Drive

The most exclusive homes in Westmont were built, creating a dramatic fringe for the border of the borough.

1.  T. Hamilton House - 528 Edgehill Drive

          Built between 1892 and 1895, this is one of the largest homes in Westmont.  Thomas F. Hamilton, a superintendent at Cambria Steel Company, bought property from the Cambria Iron Company in 189.  By 1895, its assessed value had risen to $3,400 because of the immense home Hamilton had built.  The stone first floor features a wrap-around porch with hipped roof and a port-cochere on the west side.  The second floor is stucco with Tudor-style halt-timbers.

Greene Street

Visiting here in the mid-1890s, one might have seen a street bustling with construction.  This street was given over to large single-family dwellings, many of them built for professionals.  Several of the houses still look as they did when originally built.

2.  J. Zimmerman House - 131 Greene Street

          Built around 1900, this house is one of several works of local architect Walter Myton that appear on this tour.  Myton is credited with designing the Johnstown City Hall, about 40 residences, and numerous businesses and churches around the region.  His work does not represent a single style, but rather is a reflection of his client's tastes and preferences and the popular architectural styles of the day.  This home is in the Queen Anne style, with its unusual curvilinear, turreted cupola.  In was built in 1902.  The property, a double lot, also included a stable.

     

3.  Hay House - 143 Greene Street

          Built between 1892-95 for Harry M. Hay, a merchant.  The assessed value of the home in 1895 was $2,000.  The extensive ornamentation is typical of the period, from the gabled roof to the ornate entrance.  The pediment over the front door features a fentiled cornice and fluted Ionic columns.

              

4.  Keedy House - 202 Greene Street

          Built between 1893-95.  Thomas P. Keedy was assistant supervisor for Cambria Iron Company.  This single lot cost Keedy $750 in 1893.  Behind the main house is a two-story addition that was apparently built later.  Note the extensive use of wooden shingles, from the dormers on the roof to the wrap-around porch.

         

5.  Gardner House - 203-209 Greene Street

           Built in 1909.  Jonathan Gardner, a lumberman and merchant originally built two houses on the double lot here.  Leaded glass helps to entrance this house.  The property, originally a single-family dwelling, has been subdivided into apartments and an office.  The original porch features Ionic fluted columns; the south porch was a later addition.

         

6.  Owen House - 233 Greene Street

          Built between 1907-1913.  Moses Owen was a machinist and lived here with his wife.  The house includes Neo-Classical details on the trim, and beveled glass entry windows.

         

7.  Ogden House - 238 Greene Street

          Built originally by the Cambria Iron Company, the house was sold to general manager John C. Ogden in 1919 for $7,400.  The landscaping on this property is faithful to the time when the Ogdens occupied the house.  The interior of the house features maple woodwork and a stone fireplace inside an inglenook.  The stone garage has an apartment above it.  Additions to the house include a sun porch.

    

Fayette Street

The homes along Fayette Street show the sharp contrast in life styles between white collar and blue collar workers.  What makes Westmont usual for its day is the proximity of these diverse homes.

8.  Dennison House - 245 Fayette Street

          Built around 1905.  Mary E. Dennison purchased the property for $1,350 in 1904 and had this home built.  The home remained in her family until 1965.  Interesting features include the turret dormer and a side bay window that spans two floors.

          

       

9.  Temple House - 227 Fayette Street

          Built around 1915, this home was a late addition to the neighborhood.  In 1913, Charles Temple, who owned a dance school in the city and worked as a postal carrier, bought this property from an earlier owner.  Temple and his wife built this home and lived here with their children.

    

10.  Hamilton House - 200 Fayette Street

          Built between 1892-1895.  James A. Hamilton bought this property in 1891.  He worked as a roll turner in the mill.  The one-story "L" addition to the house was built later.  Note the tri=part, two-story bay window with ornamental stucco panels.

    

11. Butler House - 152 Fayette Street

          Built between 1892 and 1894.  Elmer Butler bought this house from the Cambria Iron Company in 1892 for $800.  An 1894 photograph shows this house much as it looks today.  The exception is a wrap-around porch, which was removed in the mid-1970s.  Butler was a mill-hand.  The house remained in his family until 1971.  The multi-color windows and central projecting oriel window feature much decorative carving.

         

12.  Endsley House - 144 Fayette Street

          Built in 1895.  A lawyer connected with the Iron Company, Harry S. Endsley bought this double lot in 1893.  The property features an unusual carriage house with an ornamental gable.  The original features of the house have been retained, but an extension was added to the rear in 1950.

    

13.  Thackray House - 126 Fayette Street

          Built between 1892 and 1895.  This property was bought by George E. THackray, a draftsman, for $775 in 1892 and his home was built here.  According to city directories, Thackray later became an engineer and a superintendent at the Iron Company.  Note how the tall gambrel roof slopes down over the front porch to create a bellcase gable.  A tall Palladian style window on the west side spans two floors.

    

14.  Price House - 510 Edgehill Drive

          Built in 1891, this is one of the most notable Westmont homes.  Charles S. Price was a civil engineer who married Sarah Haws, part of the influential family that founded the Haws Refractory.  Price rose in the Iron Company reportedly because he was able to restore operations of his department rapidly after the devastating Great Flood of 1889.  By the time he moved to this house, he was the mill's general manager.  Price bought this house from the Iron Company for $3, 506 in 1891.  The house later passed to his daughter, known for her eccentricity and artistic inclinations.  The present owners are involved in restoring the home.  The rustic appearance of the home is enhanced by the use of rough-cut fieldstone on the porch and port-cochere.

    

    

15.  Morris House - 105 Fayette Street

          Built between 1891 and 1895.  Galloway C. Morris bought two lots from the Cambria Iron Company for $825 apiece in 1891.  Apparently he died soon thereafter.  According to tax records of 1895, his widow Fannie is listed as the owner of the house built on the corner lot.

16.  R. Replogle House - 131 Fayette Street

          Built around 1920, this home was designed by architect Henry Rogers, who had also designed a business building for the Replogles.  The house features Early Modern styling with Neo-classical elements, and a Roman style arched entry and brickwork.  The property itself represents some of the transition in Westmont.  In the early years, many people bought up lots for use as speculative real estate.  George W. Thompson purchased these lots from the Cambria Iron Company in 1891 for $1,650.  When Rhinehart Replogle bought the property from Thompson in 1905, he paid $4,250.  The large house accommodated Replogle, his wife, several other family members, two clerks, a student, and an assistant superintendent in the iron mill.

     

Bucknell Avenue

Bucknell Avenue, originally names Second Avenue, featured the homes of professionals.  The land was originally part of a farm, as witnessed by the early farmhouse at the far end of the street (44-45 Bucknell), near the Grandview Cemetery gates.

17.  Buchanan House - 434 Bucknell Avenue

          Built around 1893.  Frank M. Buchanan, a sales agent for the Iron Company's Westmont development, bought this property from his employer in 1893 and built his home soon thereafter.  Interesting details include horseshoe arches with lattice infill on the porches, and decorative terra-cotta inserts in the gable.

     

Luzerne Street

Before it cam to life as a residential community, Yoder's Hill was a blend of farming and recreation areas.  In 1893, the Johnstown Driving Park Association purchased a large tract of land from the Cambria Iron Company and built a race track for pacers and trotters.  The track, a half-mile long and 60 feet wide, was enclosed by a wooden railing.  The grandstand featured offices, a small private dining room, a larger public dining room, and seating for 2,500.  Fifty double-roofed stables lined the grounds.  Also on the property was a dance pavilion, next to the grandstand.  In 1895, the Association held three meets, in spring, summer, and fall.  An 1894 newspaper noted that Johnstown was home to more than 100 race horses.

In the 1910s, the Cambria Steel Company repurchased the property and turned it into a development called Elm Grove.  Unlike the earlier section of Westmont, Elm Grove was intended to be a settlement for those of upper income.  The lots were sold with the stipulation that houses of at least a certain minimum price ($2,500 for a single lot and $4,500 for a double lot) must be built.  The former race course was lined with elm trees as homes blossomed.  Today, the stately elm grove holds the distinction of being the largest stand of American Elm trees in the eastern United States.

18.  J. and M. Fronheiser House - 201-205 Luzerne Street

          Built around 1910 as a two-family house.  This house actually occupies four of the standard lots of the day.  Jacob Fronheiser was assistant treasurer of the Title Trust & Guarantee Co.  The Great Depression hit hard for many affluent Westmont residents.  In 1936, this house was sold at Sheriff's sale.

19.  L. Hannan House - 300 Luzerne Street

          Built around 1920.  Some of the properties in Elm Grove were purchased for real estate speculation and this is one.  This lot passed through several owners in quick succession before Louise Fayon Hannan built the large house and matching guest cottage.

     

20.  Grazier House - 345 Luzerne Street

          Built in 1911.  Harvey F. Grazier was general manager of Grazier Coal and Coke Co. in Somerset.  When he purchased the double lot from the steel company in 1910, the land cost $3,650.  In 1918, Mr. Grazier sold the house and land for $20,000.  The massive five-bay wood-framed house is covered in wood shingles.

21.  Greer House - 403 Luzerne Street

          Built before 1913, this is similar to a plan by architect Henry Rogers, who built many Westmont homes, including a residence for himself a few doors away.  The original owner was Frank D. Greer.  The entrance features Art Nouveau beveled and leaded glass windows.

      

22.  Rogers House - 418 Luzerne Street

          Built between 1908-1913, this house was designed by local architect Henry Rogers in 1906 as his personal residence.  The second half of house was occupied by Roger's daughter and her husband when she married.  The house is still occupied by Rogers' descendants.

23.  Stimmel House - 434 Luzerne Street

          Built around 1910, this Early Modern style house was designed by local architect Walter Myton.  In designing it, Myton was strongly influenced by the work of Frank Lloyd Wright.  The owner was Elmer E. Stimmel.  Note the decorative geometric patterns in the brickwork and the leaded glass of the entrance.

     

24.  Schonhardt House - 600 Luzerne Street

          Built 1911.  Note the Art Nouveau detailing in the beveled entry windows and in two other stained glass windows.  There is also a Venetian style window in the front gable.  The original owner was John Schonhardt.  The house was sold by the sheriff during the Great Depression.

    

    

25.  Westmont Presbyterian Church - 601 Luzerne Street

          Built in 1926.  The large English Gothic church represents the oldest congregation in Westmont.  The group organized in 1894 with a Sunday School in the upper floor over what is now the Tioga Street Market.  An earlier chapel was built on Mifflin Street but has since been razed.  The architect for the new building was A.G. Lamont of New York.  Construction was done by Berkebile Brothers, a local firm.  The facade is faced with Bedford limestone.  Within, the church features a contrast of space and light characteristic of Romanesque styling.  All the woodwork is of dark oak, and the light flows through lancet windows.

Tioga Street

Walking the length of Tioga Street, one traces the history of Westmont's development as a community.  Houses on the upper end of the street were part of the exclusive Elm Grove development and reflect an affluent style of living.  Houses in the middle section were featured in a 1911 Iron Trade Review article on the Cambria Steel Company.  These rented for $7per month with five rooms, inside toilet, running water, sink and other 'sanitary conveniences.'  A 1911 company record also lists ten properties on Tioga that featured eight rooms and all amenities, renting for $20 a month.  Houses in the lower section, closest to the Inclined Plane, are older and developed as part of the first Cambria Iron Company planned community.  Tioga Street summarizes much of Westmont's history, including exclusive homes, speculative real estate, and homes that changed hands as fortunes changed in the Great Depression.

26.  Burkhard House - 603 Tioga Street

          Built in 1922, this stucco house was designed by architect Henry Rogers and was intended to resemble a thatch-roofed cottage, down to the 12-pane windows.  William H. Burkhard was secretary-treasurer of the Johnstown Savings and Loan and had been president of the Johnstown Liquor Company.

     

27.  Love House - 535 Tioga Street

          Built around 1912 and designed by architect Henry Rogers, this was home to Russell and Lucy Love.  Russell's father had founded Love and Sunshine Co., a large local candy company.  The house features a servant's entrance in the rear, now a dining nook) and buttons throughout the building, used to call servants as needed.  Servants lived above the stone and wood shingle stable on the alley.  The Loves entertained wealthy friends in their home, including the Mellons.  But during the Great Depression, like many other Westmont families, they experienced severe financial losses and sold their lavish home.  Interesting exterior features include the rough-hewn ashlar porch columns and chimney, and zinc came lattice glass in the windows.

     

28.  Our Mother of Sorrows Roman Catholic Church - 424 Tioga Street

         Built in 1924, the church building serves a congregation that was founded in 1920.  The design, by Pittsburgh architect Carlton Strong, is reminiscent of early English Gothic churches.  The interior features polychrome mosaic work that borrows from early Christian iconography and blends it with Art Deco styling.  The construction includes Vermont slate on floors and Welsh quarry tile in sanctuary and altar.  All other construction materials, including the dark oak woodwork, are of local origin.  The window, many of which depict biblical figures, were designed by a number of well-known studios, including Henry Hunt Studios of Pittsburgh (lancet windows), Charles J. Connick of Boston (clerestory windows - gospel side), and D'Ascenzo Studios of Philadelphia (clerestory windows - epistle side).  The original property included a residence used as a rectory and land on which the grade school was built in 1946.  The Celtic cross beside the church commemorates its founding pastor, Fr. Stephen A. Ward, a strong supporter of ecumenism in the Westmont community who died in 1963.

     

29.  Cambria Steel/Reilly House - 244 Tioga Street

          Built in 1911.  One of the four company-built houses featured in Iron Trade Review.  Thomas Reilly, the first occupant and later owner of the house, was an estimating engineedr.  He purchased the home from the steel company in 1939 for $4,600.  The hip roof contains side and front gable dormers and a lunette window in the attic.

    

    

30.  Cambria Steel/Tarr House - 238 Tioga Street

          Built around 1910.  One of the homes featured in Iron Trade Review.  Records show that this house was slightly larger with seven rooms, indoor toilet, electric lights, gas, and a reception hall.  It rented for $20 a month.  The Tarr famikly bought it in 1916 for $4,400 for use as a rental property.  H.M. Tarr was president and general manager of the Johnstown Grocery Company.  The exterior features many small decorative elements.

     

31.  Wattingly House - 233 Tioga Street

          The Cambria Iron Company offered this double lot for sale in 1903 but no house was built on it until 1916 when it was purchased by Minnie E. Wattingly.  Note the extensive use of wood shingles, enclosing even the square columns and balustrade of the porch, and the two-story projecting pedimented gable on the east side.

     

32.  Tioga Street Market - 202 Tioga Street

          One of the earliest plots developed under the Cambria IronCompany plan, this structure was built in 1892 by A.B. Kramer.  He lived with his family on the second floor over the grocery store.  Because of the strict zoning laws about commercial development in Westmont, this i the only grocery store withing the borough.

     

33.  Trent/J. Replogle House - 142-148 Tioga Street

          This two-family dwelling was originally built by a clerk and a bookkeeper, Albert Trent and Jacob ZS. Replogle.  It is covered with horizontal wood siding and shingles and parts of the original stone foundation are still visible.

    

34.  Cambria Steel/Ross House - 134 Tioga Street

          Built in 1901.  Cambria Steel Company records detail the construction of four wood-framed houses on Tioga Street.  The structures had an average cost of $4,294.88, which included the lot.  In 1921, Howard M. Ross, a foreman in the Iron Company, purchased the house.

divider

About Us | Site Map | Privacy Policy | Contact Us | ©2007 Johnstown Area Heritage Association