Effort ignited to save landmark Wexford deli

Deborah Deasy
| Wednesday, July 23, 2014, 9:00 p.m.

People can thank Trudy Brooker Purvis, 80, of Pine for starting efforts to save the historic Wexford Post Office Deli.

It was her idea to donate the former trolley station, built in 1908, to the Pennsylvania Trolley Museum in Chartiers Township, Washington County.

“I don't know when it will be moved, but I think it may be within the next year,” said Purvis, widow of the late Loyal Purvis and one of multiple heirs to the estate of German immigrant Ignatius Brooker — her great-great-great grandfather. The estate includes the trolley station and property beneath it.

More than 80 years ago, Purvis's father — the late Mark Brooker — helped move the station, with draft horses, from property owned by a Brooker relative at Brennan and Wexford Bayne roads to its current site at Church Road and Route 910.

After Mark Brooker died, Purvis drafted a document and collected signatures from her father's surviving siblings to ensure the trolley station's future.

“I'm doing it for him,” Purvis said about her plans to secure the structure's preservation.

At the nonprofit trolley museum, wheels are turning to realize Purvis' hopes for the 115-year-old trolley station.

The station served riders on the Harmony Line, an interurban streetcar system, from 1908 to 1931.

“We would like to move and preserve it, but we need funds to do it,” said Scott Becker, executive director of the trolley museum.

“Our board of directors has agreed to accept the donation, once we have the funds,” Becker said. “We have a trolley that once served that station.”

After the Harmony Line ceased operating in 1931, the late Joseph Brooker — Purvis's great uncle — acquired the station to serve as Wexford's post office, and then moved the structure to Church Road and Route 910.

In 1963, Betsy Sailor — Purvis' niece and daughter of Ann Brooker Sailor of New Castle — asked to rent the former trolley station and open a deli in the building.

Five years later, a Bradford Woods couple took over the deli and operated it until Paul Mitchell of Beaver County took over the deli business in 1993.

“We just wrote a new lease,” Purvis said. “He took over the business.”

Mitchell closed the deli last month after he thought about buying an adjacent structure to expand the business.

“It was a very large undertaking for a business this size. It was just too big a risk,” Mitchell said. “There has always been an agreement between myself and the (Brooker) estate, that if the building (trolley station) ever became non-income generating, then it would be donated to the trolley association (museum).”

Deborah Deasy is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-772-6369 or ddeasy@tribweb.com.

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