Shaler community event strives to educate about local history
The Shaler North Hills Library is capping off its year-long, 75th anniversary celebration with an invitation to travel down memory lane.
“Blast From the Past: A Local History Open House” is slated for Saturday from 1 to 5 p.m. at the Shaler Area Middle School. The event will feature historical displays from the Shaler North Hills Library, Glenshaw Public Library, The Glenshaw Century Club Inc. and the Shaler Historical Society.
Also, residents will showcase their Shaler, Glenshaw, Etna, Millvale and Reserve memorabilia, according to Robert Stakeley, Sen. John Heinz History Center Affiliates Program manager and educator, who is assisting with the program.
After guests have studied the artifacts and enjoyed refreshments, Anne Madarasz, museum chief historian and curatorial division director, will present “Why Pittsburgh: A Story of Innovation,” emphasizing Pittsburgh's global impact, from 2 to 3 p.m.
Stakeley said Madarasz curated the center's “Glass: Shattering Notions” exhibit and wrote its corresponding book.
“Of course, one of the major glass companies or factories was right in Glenshaw, and she certainly knows a lot about Glenshaw Glass (Co). So that's how she'll localize her talk.”
From 3 to 4 p.m. Stakeley, of Shaler, will moderate a panel of historians sharing information regarding Mount Royal Boulevard, Farmerie Farms and Etna. A question-and-answer session will follow.
Event chairman and library board secretary James Giel has a lot of items to share.
“I have the 1956 vase that they gave Mary Ruth Jeffery, who was principal of Shaler High School, when they opened Jeffery (Primary) School. I have a charm that the faculty gave her when she retired in 1958 from Shaler. My best friend, Jim DiNucci, has what we call the Shaler shrine — sports memorabilia, letter jackets, sweaters, the megaphones from the cheerleaders, pictures.”
He has pins that Shaler High students wore in lieu of receiving ride tickets during school picnics in 1918 and 1919 at West View Park — an amusement park that closed in 1977. Moreover, he has collected every Shaler High School yearbook since 1932.
“I've been a history buff for Shaler. My dad's family owned a farm on Middle Road. And my mother grew up in Shaler. It was just a hobby,” said Giel, who has a bachelor's in history and works as Dollar Bank's benefits director.
Additionally, he collects Glenshaw Glass Co. items, estimating that he has approximately 100 “little green jars, little green pop bottles or salt and pepper shakers.” Some of his glassware is currently on display at the library.
“I'm going to speak about, in part, my family and the things I know about Shaler,” said Larry Farmerie, who taught history for 35 years at Hampton High School.
He said his family has resided in the township since 1834. They owned 200-plus acres of Shaler farmland and nine-plus acres in Etna. In 1838, they built a hotel and restaurant called the House of the Rising Sun located near the current Shaler Township Water Plant. The lodge served road travelers and people using the nearby canal, closed around 1910.
Farmerie, 83, said he hopes the event educates “the people about the rich history of Shaler Area and schools of Shaler Area school district.”
“That's what I'm look forward to the most, is meeting people and seeing what people have and hearing the stories that day that they have,” Stakeley said. “Being a resident, I am always looking forward to hearing more about our district's history. I'm excited about it.”
If you would like to share your history photos or memorabilia or help with the event, contact Sharon McRae at 412-486-0211 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Erica Cebzanov is a Tribune-Review contributor.