Uncovered ad extols 'greatest opportunity' in Trafford
The tattered handbill, hidden away for years, proclaims the promise of a new Westinghouse industrial community: “Trafford City.”
Featuring an artist's rendering of the town's “monster new foundry interests” and a street plan of properties for sale, the poster invites investment into “this grand new city.”
In what is described as “this unquestionably greatest opportunity in the annals of real estate,” business lots are available for $850; residential lots go for $250, $300 or $400.
Until this spring — more than a century after industrialist George Westinghouse bought the land that became Trafford — the 38-inch-by-24-inch flier was stashed in a box labeled as Christmas decorations in the back of Mary Jane Lloyd's Herd Street home.
When her stepson, Lynn Lloyd, found it after her death in April, he said, he knew he had to give it to the borough.
Trafford officials now are considering how to preserve it.
“When I came across that, I thought, ‘Oh jeez, well, that's the start of the town,” said Lloyd, who now lives in Mesquite, Texas.
Lloyd isn't sure how the family acquired the poster, but he included it in a couple of boxes of community mementos and photos he sent to Trafford Mayor Rey Peduzzi.
Peduzzi — who noted that Mary Jane Lloyd's husband, Don, was a curator of Trafford artifacts — said he frequently encourages families that are sorting through estates to pass on borough-related keepsakes to him.
Before his death in 1994, Don Lloyd was an avid collector of historical items who enjoyed going to flea markets and helped a nephew with his auction business, Lynn Lloyd said.
Don Lloyd, who collaborated on a book about Trafford's 75th anniversary, worked in the electric motor division for Westinghouse. Mary Jane Lloyd retired as an office worker from the Pennsylvania Railroad, which the poster states was offering a “grand free excursion,” or train ride, to potential investors.
Though the Lloyds' circular doesn't mention the year, it refers to the same June 7 sale date that the Pittsburgh-based Real Estate Trust Co. advertised in Pittsburgh newspapers in 1902 for buying lots in “Trafford City.”
In the days leading up to the sale, large newspaper ads — some spanning an entire page — trumpeted the development of Trafford two years before its incorporation as a borough.
In one, a drawing shows foundry workers dumping a cauldron of coins over the blocks between Brinton and Duquesne avenues.
Others show some of the purported 1,600 workers who were building the town by installing the sewage pipes or a woman holding up a light bulb in a pose similar to the Statue of Liberty.
In buying the property that became Trafford in 1902, George Westinghouse was repeating a pattern of developing towns around his company's plants in Wilmerding and Turtle Creek, said Mike Funyak, a 2011 Penn-Trafford graduate who is doing an internship for Wilmerding Renewed Inc., the preservation group that owns the former Westinghouse Castle in Wilmerding.
Westinghouse's companies made sure that 25 homes and a hotel were built in time for Trafford's grand opening, Funyak said.
“By that time, the Westinghouse companies were a place everyone wanted to work,” he said.
For Peduzzi, who frequently plugs the Westinghouse influence on Trafford, the poster is an opportunity to preserve an historical document about the borough's early days.
Last year, the mayor was chairman of a committee that recommended naming the public safety building's new banquet hall in tribute to Manchester, England, where Westinghouse established the British Westinghouse Electrical and Manufacturing Co.
Peduzzi has contacted a local business, Digital Trafford, about the possibility of creating a copy of the Lloyds' poster to put on display at the borough building.
“This is really something,” he said. “In Westinghouse's eyes, Trafford was going to be the industrial center of the United States.”
Peduzzi still is sifting through the Lloyds' relics, which include black-and-white photos of early Westinghouse workers, World War II soldiers, the borough's World War I memorial, a Polish band, drum-and-bugle corps and the 1934 First Holy Communion recipients at St. Regis Catholic Church.
Back in Texas, Lynn Lloyd is delving into another trove of his father's souvenirs, including a series of letters that appear to be from the Stewart family from as far back as 1812.
Stewart Station was the predecessor of Trafford Borough.
“My dad didn't throw out anything. His house was like a museum, except he didn't have stuff out on display.”
Chris Foreman is a staff writer for Trib Total Media.