September was a busy month for me and West Newton. Starting on Labor Day, Westmoreland Yough Trail Chapter held their 18th Annual Poker Run fundraiser. It was a rainy morning, but people still came out for this fun event. My main duty was to help pre-registers to sign in and get their t-shirt. Over 250 people were in attendance and over 100 prizes were given out to bikers and walkers.
The following weekend was the West Newton Community Festival. Between myself, DWNI members, and Erin of Preservation Pennsylvania staffed this booth. Together we were promoting each others’ efforts in West Newton. DWNI was selling flavored popcorn as well as raffles to attract visitors to their booth. My section of the booth had information about the Great Allegheny Passage, Trail Town Ice Cream, Simmeral Square, Historic Preservation, and much more. I talked to several community members and visitors about all the interesting things happening in this Trail Town. Many people were excited about new things such as the Ice Cream and new sections of Trail. Also, I put together a photo hunt activity for people to try. I didn’t expect people to go into Main Street from the Vine Street Park venue, but many looked through and gave me their guesses. Several were surprised and unsure of the architectural details in their own hometown. DWNI, Preservation PA, and I were pleased with our efforts of educating and engaging community members about West Newton and its assets.
I have also been continue been continuing on the Historic Resource Survey Form for a historic district in West Newton. I have made a lot of progress this month. Thinking about what makes West Newton unique and significant, not just its history, took me a bit more time to realize, but I had an epiphany. Unlike many of the other Trail and Industrial towns in the area, West Newton’s industrial history is dependent on its smaller scale factories and processes that developed a final product unlike other places that continued transporting its good into the Pittsburgh area. At a recent DWNI meeting, we reviewed my statement of significance so far and I am taking their feedback since many of the members are native and know the town history. I’ve also finalized most of my photos and have started copying and pasting my drafts into the official form. I plan to have this submitted in October. Once I have my reviewed results back from the State Historic Preservation Office of Pennsylvania, I will know if my proposed historic district is eligible for the National Register of Historic Places.