ShareThis Page

Nature center barn in North Park to celebrate a century

| Wednesday, July 30, 2014, 9:00 p.m.
Bethany Hofstetter | Trib Total Media
The Latodami Nature Center barn, in North Park, turns 100 this year with a special birthday celebration event on Aug. 9 at the Nature Center.
The Latodami Nature Center barn, in North Park, pictured as it stood in the mid-1900s, turns 100 this year with a special birthday celebration event on Aug. 9 at the Nature Center.
Bethany Hofstetter | Trib Total Media
The Latodami Nature Center barn, in North Park, which was once part of a working farm but now houses educational and programming space, turns 100 this year with a special birthday celebration event on Aug. 9 at the Nature Center.
Bethany Hofstetter | Trib Total Media
A new weather station, installed at the top of the former Owl Barn at North Park’s Latodami Nature Center, now provides current weather conditions available for view online.

An unassuming barn that started as part of a farm a century ago has become a vital location for providing outdoor opportunities to the community.

County staff will recognize the centennial anniversary of the Latodami Nature Center barn, located off of Brown Road, with a special event in August.

The Latodami Barn birthday party event is scheduled from noon to 2 p.m. on Aug. 9. The event will include a tour and history lesson of the barn and property, and games for children.

“It's 100 years and it's still standing,” said Meg Scanlon, interpretive naturalist at the Nature Center, of the reason to celebrate the barn. “And there are still people (who) remember when this was a farming community, and so we're celebrating the farming community.”

The barn was built in 1914 and originally part of the Latodami Farm. The property was developed in the early 1900s by Pittsburgh lawyer John Dean Brown, who hired a farm manager to run the farm known for its dairy products, turkey, pork, chicken products, honey and produce.

The name Latodami is derived from the first two letters of the Horning family's four children, direct descendants of Brown: Orlando, known as Landy; Antoinette, known as Toni; Davea, and Michele.

The county purchased the property in 1969 to create the environmental nature center. The name stayed when the barn became part of the Nature Center.

The county hired the first naturalist, Joe Grom, in 1969. Scanlon succeeded him after his retirement.

Mary Bates of McCandless lives within walking distance of North Park and first met Scanlon when she was part of the now-defunct Volunteers for Outdoor Allegheny, an organization that helped build trails for the park.

Bates said the Nature Center provides a service to the area.

“I don't think the public knows too much about it,” Bates said. “They might know North Park exists and focus their thoughts on the lake.

“There aren't a lot of people who know the nature center is there or what kinds of activities that are provided … it is activities for all age groups.”

Bates said she enjoys volunteering for Nature Center activities.

Scanlon said the Nature Center property is perfectly located in North Park and in a centralized location in the North Hills area that allows her and her staff to provide programming to a variety of people.

“We can definitely reach so many more people than if we were not at this location,” Scanlon said.

“We have this huge burgeoning population that is continuing to explode in the North Hills in general, so I think it's even more important than ever to reach out to the general public and school groups to provide them with these opportunities … to provide accessibility and ease of opportunity for people to explore the out of doors and nature and learn more about nature.”

Bethany Hofstetter is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-772-6364 or

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.