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Signs planned to remind residents of Export's past

Patrick Varine
| Saturday, Jan. 14, 2017, 11:00 p.m.
Above, an early 20th-century photo from Sartoris studio of downtown Export.
Submitted photo
Above, an early 20th-century photo from Sartoris studio of downtown Export.
John Nagoda, Mark Manovich and Melanie Litz look over historic photos of Export at Manovich's store, Master Auto Supply.
Patrick Varine photo | Tribune-Review
John Nagoda, Mark Manovich and Melanie Litz look over historic photos of Export at Manovich's store, Master Auto Supply.

Paul Lapcevic can remember when Export Borough had a dozen grocery stores — five on Washington Avenue alone — and a time when milk was delivered by horse and buggy from four local farms.

“This town at one time served all of Franklin Township,” Export Councilman John Nagoda said. “There was nothing in Murrysville, and people came down here to shop.”

Through a local grant from the Community Foundation of Murrysville, Export and Delmont, the Export Historical Society plans to remind residents about that history with a series of informational signs.

“We'd like to get the first sign placed this spring and then go from there,” historical society member and Export Councilwoman Melanie Litz said.

Several sites will be familiar to residents, including the Italian-American Club on Kennedy Avenue.

“That was the Westmoreland Coal Company's boiler house,” said Lapcevic, 95, who lives in Delmont but was raised and lived most of his life in Export. “Kids used to go there and get showers, and you could get hot water there.”

Another is the former site of the Pennsylvania Railroad station, where rail tracks still run through downtown Export along Kennedy Avenue.

“I used to ride the train to Pitcairn,” Lapcevic said. “Trains left at 5, 5:30 and 6 a.m. to take people to Pitcairn, Westinghouse, Turtle Creek and into (Pittsburgh).”

Duff Manor, between Kennedy Avenue and Roosevelt Street, was once the Duff School, which Lapcevic attended through his sophomore year of high school.

Litz said the society has access to a wealth of historic photos of Export through the borough's archives. Many of those photos were developed at another site that is slated to receive a sign — the former Sartoris photo studio, which was across from the Moose lodge on Washington Avenue.

Borough officials recently expressed interest in acquiring some of the original glass photo slides that were housed in the studio.

“Every wedding, every Communion, every reunion photo in town was taken at that studio,” Litz said. “It was the only game in town.”

There are about a dozen sites on the society's shortlist, but there are plenty more that could be included in the future.

“When we sat down and started listing things, there were just so many places,” Litz said. “There's just so much history here.”

In addition to the borough's photo archives, the society hopes to gather photos from residents' personal collections. Anyone with old photos of the borough is asked to contact Litz at 724-454-9584 or kmlitz172@gmail.com.

Patrick Varine is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 724-850-2862 or pvarine@tribweb.com.

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