by Karen Fetter
At the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains, located in the beautiful Laurel Highlands, is the City of Greensburg.
Greensburg is a major hub of business and commerce in Westmoreland County. With a population of over 15,000, Greensburg has many community and cultural institutions to offer as well as significant educational facilities.
Many people are attracted to Greensburgs shopping and dining district. Not only are the streets of downtown Greensburg lined with quaint shops, but nearby Westmoreland Mall boasts over 150 stores.
Culture and history are other reasons for visiting Greensburg. The Westmoreland Museum of American Art and the Palace Theatre have many world class exhibits and shows. In addition, Greensburg offers two great educational facilities – Seton Hill University and University of Pittsburgh at Greensburg. Greensburg also serves as the county seat for Westmoreland County.
Shortly after the Revolutionary War, the town of Greensburg was nothing more than a simple inn located along what is known as Pittsburgh Street today. A settlement grew around this inn and became known as Newtown. After a fire destroyed the original county seat at Hannastown, Newtown took over as the center of county administration in 1782. By 1786 a log courthouse was erected in the same location where the Westmoreland County Courthouse stands today. The area surrounding the courthouse was the original borough, later named for Revolutionary War General Nathaniel Greene.
The first court held in Greensburg was on January 7, 1787. While the location has remained the same, the structure of the courthouse has changed dramatically over the years. What began as a log structure changed to brick and now is now a four story landmark with a central dome in the Italian Renaissance style. Greensburgs current courthouse is one of only two in the world designed by William Kauffman. It was erected in 1906 and is one of the region’s most beautiful Beaux Arts buildings. For more information about the Westmoreland County Courthouse, please visit www.co.westmoreland.pa.us.
Greensburg continued to grow slowly and steadily until 1850. Around that time an economic boom created by the convergence of coal and the railroad made the town boom with inns, businesses, and an exploding population. One main draw was the location of the railroad stop. The economic boom created by coal and Greensburg’s retail industry convinced the Pennsylvania Railroad to build the Train Station at Greensburg. The railroad commissioned architect William Cookman to design the new station and on August 2, 1911, the Train Station at Greensburg was opened to the public. The station was heavily used until the 1940s when it began to decline due to the rise in use of automobiles.
By the1900s Greensburg began to absorb many of the smaller boroughs that surrounded it, including Bunker Hill in 1894 and Ludwick, East Greensburg, and Southeast Greensburg in 1905. Greensburg became a Third-Class City on January 2, 1928. Currently the city is approximately 20 miles in perimeter with 40.4 miles of city streets and 7.90 miles of state highways.
Greensburg’s cultural status grew with the addition of the Westmoreland County Museum of American Art in 1959 and the opening of the University of Pittsburgh Greensburg Campus in 1963. Then in the 1970s, commerce expanded once again. Westmoreland Mall opened its doors along with many other shopping centers. Even with the new competition, the heart of downtown Greensburg remains active with many unique shops, banks, and businesses. Visit the City of Greensburg’s website www.city.greensburg.pa.us to learn more!
Westmoreland Chamber of Commerce www.westmorelandchamber.com
The Westmoreland Chamber of Commerce serves the residents and businesses of Greensburg, Hempfield Township, Jeannette, New Stanton, Murrysville, Delmont, Export, Penn Township, Penn Borough, and Plum Borough. Its membership includes around 1,000 companies representing over 20,000 employees in the region. The mission of the Chamber is “to facilitate, maintain, and advance an environment conducive to the economic well being and superior quality of life for Westmoreland County through leadership, growth and vision.
Westmoreland Hospital www.westmoreland.org
Westmoreland Regional Hospital is part of Excela Health. With nearly 1,400 employees, the facility offers intensive care, emergency care, skilled care, rehabilitative services, behavioral health, and inpatient and outpatient surgery.
The hospital also offers a range of clinical services and functions as a regional referral center for advanced medical treatment in selected areas such as cardiac care, open heart surgery, cancer care, and women’s services. In addition, the hospital offers physical, occupational, and speech therapy as well as home and hospice care.
Volunteer Fire Department www.greensburgfire.org
The Greensburg Volunteer Fire Department was organized on January 12, 1891 and is considered one of the best volunteer departments in the nation. The City’s original firefighting equipment consisted of two hose carts with leather fire buckets and included Hose Company #1 and Hose Company #2.
Presently, the Greensburg Volunteer Fire Department has a membership of 350 firefighters. Its firefighting equipment now boasts five fire engines, one ladder truck, three rescue trucks, two salvage units, and five additional pieces of specialized equipment. The Greensburg VFD also has a Rescue Dive Team and Air Rescue East Team. The Greensburg Volunteer Fire Departments own Jack Simon served as the Pennsylvania State Fire Commissioner for five years.
Greensburg-Hempfield Area Library www.ghal.org
The Greensburg – Hempfield Area Library offers a wide range of services to its patrons. These services include: a computerized card catalog, a wide selection of best sellers, access to 200 periodicals, a workplace site with career information, the Ebsco magazine indexing service, SHARE WESTMORELAND magazine service, an extensive large print collection, and large print circulation to nursing homes. There is a reference section and the Pennsylvania Room collection of local history, including back issues of the Greensburg Daily Tribune, 1889-1952.
At the Greensburg Hempfield Library you will find a large number of foreign language tapes and books, books on tape, and a video tape collection. Patrons can also use the extensive phone book collection, Inter-Library loan services, a CD music collection for circulation, ACCESS Pennsylvania, and a wide variety of programs for children and adults.
Westmoreland Trust www.thewestmorelandtrust.org
The Westmoreland Trust is the organization responsible for the purchase and renovation of both the Palace Theatre and the Greensburg Train Station. The Palace Theatre originally opened September 2, 1926 as the Manos Theatre. Today it hosts the widest variety of live entertainment in the area in a beautifully renovated facility that seats 1,320 people. Visit http://thepalacetheatre.org to learn about the latest shows.
The Train Station now serves as an active train terminal with 13,000 passengers traveling through each year. It has a public lobby with a visitor’s information center, specialty concession area, public restrooms, a waiting area, and elevators to the train platforms.
The Westmoreland Trust also leases the Greensburg Garden and Civic Center building from the City of Greensburg. The GGCC is the headquarters for the Greensburg Garden Club, Greensburg Civic Theater, and the Greensburg College Club. The GGCC was built by philanthropist Katherine Mabis McKenna and donated to the City of Greensburg in 1969 as a memorial to her son, Mennel M. Smith. The Center is a multi-use facility and is utilized by over 100 organizations and well over 100,000 people each year.
Westmoreland Museum of American Art www.wmuseumaa.org
The Westmoreland Museum of American Art was established in 1949 as the Woods Marchand Foundation at the bequest of Mary Marchand Woods. This founder bequeathed her entire estate in order for the Museum to be built in Greensburg. In 1959, the Museum was opened exhibiting collections of American and southwestern Pennsylvania art. The mission of the Museum is “to educate, inspire and enrich the public through the presentation of American Art and to create an experience in which the arts are enjoyed, understood and can thrive.”
Thomas Lynch Field
This facility has a wide array of activities for the community. It includes the Kirk S. Nevin Arena, the Veterans’ Memorial Swimming Pool, an Aerobic Center, athletic fields, and walking, jogging, and biking trails.
Mt. Odin Park
This park has an 18-hole golf course, tennis courts, driving range, and pavilions for rental.
St. Clair Park
St. Clair Park is the site of the Robertshaw Amphitheater, playgrounds, toddler lots, and outdoor concerts. The summer concert series at St. Clair Park draws a wide audience for everything from Big Band to Classic Rock, Country, and more. To learn more, visit www.greensburg.com.
The Greensburg YMCA became an incorporated non-profit organization in 1890. The current building on Maple and Pittsburgh Streets was designed by David Shaw Atkinson in 1913 for $95,000. The YMCA has been a part of the Greensburg community since that time. Programs available at the facility include aquatics, childcare, group exercise, gymnastics, martial arts, sports, and teen programs. To learn more, visit www.greensburgymca.org.
Seton Hill University www.setonhill.edu
Seton Hill is a Catholic University rooted in Judeo-Christian values and follows the tradition of Elizabeth Ann Seton. This co-ed school has a 15:1 ratio of students to professors. There are over 30 majors to choose from and Seton Hill offers both graduate and under graduate programs.
University of Pittsburgh at Greensburg www.upg.pitt.edu
The University of Pittsburgh at Greensburg (UPG) was established in 1963 as one of four regional campuses for the University of Pittsburgh. On Sept. 3, 1963, the campus began operating as a two-year program with class of 56 full time day students and approximately 156 students in the part time evening program. This liberal arts and science campus became a four-year program in 1987. Today campus has nearly 2000 students enrolled on a yearly basis. The student-faculty-ratio at UPG is 18:1 and the average class size is 25 students.
Roads and Routes
State Routes 66 and 136 begin in Greensburg and State Routes 130, 819, and 119 pass through. U.S. Route 30 passes Greensburg to the south and the Route 66 Toll Road bypasses Greensburg on the west. The Pennsylvania Turnpike is only five miles south of Route 119 in New Stanton. The original Lincoln Highway passed through town on Pittsburgh Street.