by Karen Fetter
Murrysville is one town in Westmoreland County that is always on the cusp of change. The beautiful suburban area is located along Route 22 one of the main transportation arteries in western Pennsylvania. New development along Route 22 is a big reason that Murrysville remains on the fast track.
Murrysville is located approximately 20 miles east of Pittsburgh, PA at the western edge of Westmoreland County and covers 37 square miles. According to the 2000 Census, Murrysville had a population of 18,872. The area shares borders with eight other communities and totally surrounds the Borough of Export. Murrysville’s more densely populated areas are located near the Route 22 corridor in the southern portion of the municipality.
Murrysville is largely a rural, residential community with single-family dwellings on large lots. The median age of the Municipality’s population is 42.8 years old. The municipality has the highest per capita income and education levels in Westmoreland County.
The town is very proud of its attractive neighborhoods, strong school system, variety of community groups, responsive government and rural character. We will take a look at Murrysville history, municipality, parks system, community groups and events. Lets see why Murrysville is THE place to be!
Franklin Township was the first development in the area of Murrysville. However, it wasn’t listed on the Westmoreland County records until 1788. Before that, William Meanor bought a claim of land from an Indian in exchange for a keg of tobacco and a rifle. And in 1769, Robert Hays applied to the government for land and purchased 339 acres for 45 pounds, 2 shillings and 6 pence.
Murrysville itself was founded by Ireland native Jeremiah Murry. He traveled to Pennsylvania in 1781 and then on to Franklin Township. He acquired land near Turtle Creek and built a cabin and gristmill. He also kept a store near the current location of the Presbyterian Church. Murry established the town of Murrysville in 1820, no more than a year after the Northern Turnpike was constructed. He originally purchased several hundred acres of land, which he subdivided into streets and lots. Murry then sold the land to incoming settlers.
The school system in Murrysville holds a lot of history as well. Murrysville was the first school established in the area in 1800. Then in 1861, Francis Laird Stewart organized the Turtle Creek Academy. Classes were first held in Murry’s father’s house and then moved to the basement of the Presbyterian Church. The Murrysville Grade School was built in 1905 and is now being used to house several businesses. Newlonsburg Elementary, which was the original high school, was built in 1929.
Murrysville is a progressive community that has many unique features. One is the Home Rule form of government that was adopted by the town and both the school board and municipal officials are elected at large. Murrysville also continually upgrades its facilities and services. There is a modern Administration Building that includes the police and library. Also, Murrysville’s state-of-the-art Public Works facility is a prototype that surrounding areas attempt to emulate. The municipality is also unique in that it has a “tree sign” which uses individual trees to spell “Murrysville” on a hillside. The sign is maintained by the local Sportsmen and Landowners Alliance. The “M” in the sign is lit up at the annual “light-up night” in December.
One of the Murrysville’s biggest recent projects involves improvements along Route 22. PennDOT is widening the road to four lanes from the Allegheny County line to Route 66 in Salem Township. There is also a $400,000 beautification project that will add decorative lighting, landscaping, and entry signage to the first 3.4 miles. In addition to better traffic control, the changes are bringing many new businesses to Murrysville. The second phase of the project should be completed in 2007.
The town continues to work with the Murrysville Economic Community Development Corporation in a joint effort to entice new business ventures into Murrysville. Murrysville is currently investigating a grant to bring sidewalks, landscaping, and lighting to a portion of Old William Penn Highway; phase one would begin at the Barbara Redding Bridge and end at Gates Avenue. If successful, the town will apply for future grants to continue the project.
Murrysville offers a wide variety of public and private park and recreation facilities – both at the neighborhood and community levels. The town currently owns about 1,000 acres of parkland and recently hired a consultant to implement a newly adopted Comprehensive Parks and Recreation Plan. The plan had significant input from residents and is intended to develop the local parks to meet the needs of all ages and abilities with both active and passive recreation. In addition to this plan, the Westmoreland Conservancy has preserved 216 acres in Murrysville as natural areas for public enjoyment.
Also part of the parks system today is the historic site of the drilling of the first gas well that took place in 1878. When gas was reached, a great explosion and fire extended 100 feet into the air. The fire burned for a year and a half before being controlled.
Murrysville Community Library
Murrysville Community Library is a public library located on Sardis Road. It provides reference, informational and recreational reading materials and loan service to the entire community and to the Franklin Regional School District. The Murrysville Women’s Club founded the library in 1922. It has grown from an initial collection of 660 books to over 65,000 in 2001. For more information visit the website at www.murrysvillelibrary.org or call 724-327-1102.
Murrysville Historical Preservation Society, Inc.
The Murrysville Historical Preservation Society Inc. was chartered in 1987. Its goal is to identify and protect significant properties in Murrysville and surrounding areas, to protect historic buildings, to understand the areas past, and to collect and preserve photographs and documents of the area in hopes to foster the knowledge and understanding of the areas past. The Murrysville Historical Preservation Society Inc. meets every other month on the third Monday of the month at 7:30 p.m. at the Senior Center located in the Community Center on Carson Street, unless otherwise noted. All meetings are open to the public. For more information call 724-327-6942 or email at email@example.com.
Westmoreland Chamber of Commerce
Westmoreland Chamber of Commerce services Murrysville, Export, Delmont, Plum Borough, Penn Township, Greensburg, Jeannette, Youngwood, and New Stanton. An office is located at 3967 William Penn Highway in Murrysville in the same building as A-1 Mortgage.
The chamber assists local businesses through providing networking opportunities, educational seminars, member-to-member discounts and addressing legislative issues by lobbying on their behalf. The chamber also offers the community information, maps, etc. on all of the areas within their jurisdiction. Visit www.westmorelandchamber.com or e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Murrysville Women’s Club
The Murrysville Women’s Club was created in 1920 to bring the women of the community together to develop their educational, civic, and social interests, and to advance the welfare of the community. It has initiated a number of improvements for Murrysville – most notably promoting the growth of the Community Library and its facilities. For more information call LaDorna Stephens, 724-327-8508.
Murrysville/Export Rotary Club
The Murrysville-Export Club was chartered on August 27, 1945 and meets every Wednesday at 6:45 p.m. at the Lamplighter Restaurant on Route 22. Each year, the Club has major fund-raisers that have included the Chili Open in February, Lotto Night in the spring, and the Chicken A-Go-Go in the Fall. Proceeds benefit local and world needs. The Murrysville-Export Club has sponsored the community Halloween Parade since 1962 and has completed many projects around the community. The most notable project was the property acquisition for Haymaker Park in 1952. It also aided in the creation of Communities, Inc. to manage the park. Visit the Murrysville-Export Rotary website at www.murrysville-exportrotary.org.
Murrysville Lion’s Club
The Murrysville Lions Club supports several community programs such as sponsoring used eyeglass collections, free eyesight and hearing tests (Care-A-Van), Teen-age Golf League, Lion’s Project SightFirst – Lions Conquering Preventable Blindness. In addition, it helps other organizations such as the Beacon Lodge Camp for the Blind, Leader Dog Program, and Hershey’s Eye Research Units, Westmoreland’s Association for the Blind and Deaf Services, and the St. Vincent’s Drug and Alcohol program.
Murrysville has a variety of events for the public to participate in throughout the year. Below are the four major events that are sponsored through the municipality. For a complete community calendar visit www.murrysville.com.
Annual Egg Hunt
Townsend Park on Twin Oaks Drive
Children ages 2-11 can bring their own basket and collect eggs, snacks, and prizes. Plus they will also get a visit from the Easter Bunny!
Major Health Fair
Franklin Regional Middle School
Franklin Regional School District and Health and Wellness Association join together
to discuss and share topics of interest for school age children through adulthood.
In the summer, an annual “Community Day” featuring children’s activities, food booths, petting zoos, bands, car shows, educational activities and an art show is held.
Light Up Night
6:00- 8:30 p.m.
Laird Hall at First Presbyterian Church on North Hills Road
A great family event that includes a visit from Santa, games, crafts, and snacks for children from ages 2 years to adults.
Seeing is believing with the town of Murrysville. Its capability to continually be on the cusp of change and development has made it THE place to be. With new roads, a good school system, an active community and progressive leaders, this area is one to visit and possibly to stay!
Murrysville, Westmoreland County, PA
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