by Karen Fetter
In the center of Westmoreland County lies the City of Jeannette. Made famous as the Glass City, at one time Jeannette produced more glass in more forms than any other city in the United States. Today Jeannette has a rich history, as well as key industrial and healthcare employers, such as the Elliot Company and Mercy Jeannette Hospital.
With a current population of around 10,000, Jeannette lies near the center of Westmoreland County between Routes 30 and 22. It is approximately 25 miles east of Pittsburgh and four miles east of the Irwin interchange on the Pennsylvania Turnpike.
Jeannette began in the spring of 1888, when several local farms were purchased for the development of the Chambers and McKee Glass Works. Long rows of brick houses were built in order to provide homes for glass plant workers. Jeannette, named after the wife of H. Sellers McKee, was ideally positioned for the early glass industry. Its resources in coal and natural gas, location along early railroads, and proximity to Pittsburgh all provided the impetus for quick growth. The first glass blown was on May 20, 1889. In time there would be seven great glass factories and a rubber plant, including the largest tableware glass factory in the world. Soon Jeannette took on another nickname The American Workshop.
Jeannette was incorporated into a borough on June 7, 1889. Then on January 1, 1938 Jeannette became a third class city with Attorney John M. OConnell as the first mayor.
One key historical factory was the American-Saint Gobains Industries, Inc. plant, which helped establish the commerce that would support the growing city of Jeannette. Originally founded as the Chambers and McKee Glass Works, the first owners of the plant, J. A. Chambers and H. Sellers McKee named Jeannettes Main Street after their financial backer, Richard W. Clay.
The factory was designed to be a hand-cylinder operation. A glob of molten glass was collected in the end of a metal tube and skilled blowers worked it into a large globe. The semi-molten globe was held downward and swung slowly while the blowing continued. The resulting cylinder was split in half and flattened to make windowpanes.
In 1889, the American Window Glass Company was incorporated in Pennsylvania and consolidated a number of smaller manufacturers, including the Chambers and McKee facilities. In 1903, American Window became the first company to produce sheet glass using a device known as the Lubbers cylinder machine. This process and the machine were named after its inventor, John H. Lubbers. In time, developments were made to minimize distortion of waviness and to eliminate the greenish cast of glass, which affected its transparency and light transmission. The entire glass industry adopted these methods. In 1958 American Window Glass was merged with Blue Ridge Glass to form American Saint Gobain Corporation, the only United States producer of all three types of flat glass, plate, sheet, and patterned-rolled. In 1970 the company was renamed ASG Industries, Inc.
One important piece of Jeannettes history is being a part of the first professional football game in the United States. Teams from Jeannette and Latrobe played in August of 1895. People watched as, for the first time, paid players took to the field. Originally Latrobe was to meet Johnstown in competition, but the Johnstown team cancelled at the last minute. Latrobe advertised that they would pay another team $50.00 to participate in the planned game, and Jeannette agreed.
Jeannette Area Historical Society
The Jeannette Area Historical Society is located within the Jeannette Library at South Sixth Street & Magee Avenue. The purpose of the JAHS is to “Preserve the past and the present for the future.” The JAHSs intent is to collect any memorabilia, photographs, articles, materials or items pertaining to the city of Jeannette and the surrounding area, including but not restricted to Grapeville, West Jeannette, Lincoln Heights, Penn, Penn Township, and Hempfield Township. With this information JAHS protects, preserves, categorizes, and indexes all gathered materials and information. This knowledge is shared with the general public or those in the need to know. The JAHS is always welcoming new members. Contact President John Howard at 724-787-9070 for more information, or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org
Jeannette Library is located at South Sixth Street & Magee Avenue. Historically, the first mention of a local library occurred in 1906, but it was not until October of 1959 that the Jeannette Public Library Association officially began operation. The library received its first major renovation in 1963 and its present day collection includes adult and juvenile fiction, non-fiction, books on tape, video and cassette tapes, magazines, an inter-library loan Program, and large print books. Computer services include Internet capable computers, Microsoft Office, and resume writing programs. Library Hours are Monday – Friday 12:00 Noon to 8:00 p.m. and Saturday 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. The library is closed on Sunday.
American Legion Post 344
The American Legion Jeannette Post 344 began at a meeting on September 12, 1919 in the high school auditorium. People gathered who were interested in a veterans organization. About a month later the post received official recognition from the American Legion and was assigned the number 344. The first regularly elected officers included B. F. Jenkins, Commander; Albert Kelley, Vice Commander; Ben Schaefer, Secretary; Ira Mull, Treasurer; and J. Young, Chaplain. Post 344 has contributed highly to the Jeannette community and to veterans and their families. Among the many programs to which Post 344 contributes are: Americanism, Child Welfare, Rehabilitation, Public Relations, Memorial Services, and Community services. The American Legion leads parades, sponsors awards and certificates, and fosters citizenship and patriotism in the community. It also works hard on several fund raising campaigns.
Today the city is known for its many parades and activities throughout the year. Jeannette has annual Halloween and Christmas parades, as well as a popular Easter Egg Hunt. All holidays, especially Memorial Day and Labor Day, are celebrated with a parade.
Jeannette Community Days, a combined effort of the Fourth of July committee and the Community Days committee, is among the biggest events of the year. Jeannette Community Days is scheduled for July 27, 28, and 29, in 2006. The event takes place in the parking lot on Magee Avenue. Festivities include rides, games, food, bands, bingo, a parade, and fireworks.
Delallos Italian Marketplace
In 1954, George E. DeLallo and his wife Madeleine purchased property on Route 30 in Jeannette to establish a retail and wholesale Italian grocery store – Delallos Italian Marketplace. It was here they developed and sold authentic Italian items bearing the DeLallo name. The business proved an outstanding success, and now DeLallo products are proudly distributed throughout the country. The store features items such as Olive Oil, Pasta, Vinegars and Tomatoes. What started as a humble business in a two-car garage is now the largest importer of olives in the United States. Delallos Italian Marketplace is located on Route 30 in Jeannette. You can also shop online at www.delallo.com.
The Elliott Company is Jeannettes current largest employer. Elliot began in 1914 and occupies 110 acres in northern Jeannette. The company provides jobs for more than 2,700 employees. Elliott production facilities began with fabrication of tube cleaning equipment. In time, the company began to manufacture condensers, deaerating heaters, and steam jet ejectors, along with a means of supplying vacuum for condensers. Elliots capabilities continued to expand over the years, and today the Elliott Company provides quality products to users around the world. For more information, please visit www.elliott-turbo.com/new.