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Elizabeth Twp. Howell house finally gets its historical due

| Tuesday, Sept. 3, 2013, 7:32 a.m.
Cindy Shegan Keeley | Daily News
A marker designates the historical significance of a 200-year-old Elizabeth Township house that has been the family homestead for Herb Howell, Norma Werner, the Rev. Aleda Arnold Menchyk and Daniel Wolf for generations.
Jennifer R. Vertullo | Daily News
McKeesport closed its Summer Concert Series and Labor Day Rib Fest with a shimmering fireworks display that lit the night sky in Renziehausen Park and surrounding neighborhoos on Monday.
Jennifer R. Vertullo | Daily News
Donna Fey takes barbecue orders from Donna Winkler and Glendora Hall, both of Port Vue, at the Viking booth during McKeesport's Labor Day Rib Fest on Monday.
Jennifer R. Vertullo | Daily News
Karen Kugler removes hot potatoes from the fryer at the Viking booth during McKeesport's Labor Day Rib Fest on Monday.

Aleda Menchyk should have far less trouble receiving deliveries now.

A few weeks back, her uncle Herbert Howell, owner of Howell Craft Inc., decided it was time to place a proper monument outside her house, which is nestled on the edge of the woods along Simpson Howell Road in Elizabeth Township.

After all, the home, built around 1870, has remained in the Howell family since their ancestor Col. Philip Howell purchased it from a land speculator in 1796.

“Herb decided we needed this,” said Menchyk, 65, a minister at Calvin United Presbyterian Church in Brownsville. “The whole world was always saying, ‘We can't find your house!' The UPS man was always driving by.”

The sandstone monument not only prominently displays the street address, but tells a brief history of the property that has stayed in the hands of Howell's descendents for at least six generations. The estate once covered more than 300 acres. The family still owns 56 acres, a tract that includes Menchyk's home, the Howell Craft business and Howell's nearby house.

“We had a big family reunion here (in August) and we put it up a few days before that,” said Howell, who turns 85 on Wednesday.

He said the marker is a birthday present of sorts to himself and his sister, Norma Walker, who turned 84 on Sunday.

It's part of a massive restoration project that Menchyk has been overseeing since she inherited the house in 1985.

“Most of the work has been since 2011,” said Menchyk, who has had a lot of hired help. “It basically had to be gutted and redone, but a lot of the inside looks like it's original. I wanted it to look as much like it used to as I could.”

Although the entire close-knit family is proud of her progress, Menchyk said she had to stop short of restoring it too accurately.

“If I was going to be really authentic, it would still have to have a slight roof and a kitchen outside,” she said with a laugh. “And you'd have to walk up over the hill to use the bathroom.”

Tim Karan is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-664-9161, ext. 1970, or