East Park's overlook castle restored, ready for visitors
East Park's overlook castle has been restored to its original glory. Thanks to state grants and Arch Masonry of Pittsburgh, the local landmark now looks exactly like it did when the Works Progress Administration built it during the Great Depression.
Those who attend Sunday's Golden Reunion can see the project up close and share memories of the good times they had as youngsters at East Park, off Wills Road in Connellsville.
Tunnel project pending
Meanwhile, Connellsville Redevelopment Authority, which oversaw the castle project, is awaiting bids for a project there: New hand railing and lighting in a tunnel that allows pedestrians park access, according to Michael Edwards, the authority's executive director.
The Golden Reunion is in its second year. In 2012, approximately 100 classmates from Connellsville and Geibel Catholic high schools, along with graduates from the former Dunbar Township and Immaculate Conception schools, gathered for a day of fellowship during the Memorial Day weekend.
This year's event comes on the heels of the ninth annual Geranium Festival, which will be held downtown on Saturday. The class reunion will be held from noon to 4 p.m. Sunday and will include a meal by Miller's Catering (Italian Oven) and Big Band music by the Wally Gingers Orchestra.
“We're hoping to double last year's attendance,” said Edwards, who also serves as president of Fayette County Cultural Trust, sponsor of the reunion.
All graduates are welcome, although the event honors those who have been out of high school for 50 years or more.
The East Park castle project was complicated because Arch Masonry had to disassemble the landmark piece by piece, numbering each piece. Its foundation was reinforced and the “new/old” castle was reconstructed during the fall of 2012. The $80,000 project was funded with cash from the city's state Community Development Block Grants from 2009, 2010 and 2011.
Historic restoration projects have strict rules to preserve integrity — and “historic” certainly applies to East Park, one of thousands of civic projects the WPA completed in the 1930s during The New Deal era of President Franklin D. Roosevelt. Other local WPA projects include Connellsville Falcon Football Stadium, the Water Street wall near the Amtrak railroad station and the South Arch Street wall near the football stadium.
Before it was a park, East Park was known as Hogg's pasture, where cows grazed. The site was owned by James Breading Hogg, a Bullskin Township native who moved to New Haven Borough (now Connellsville's West Side) as a child. Eventually, the pasture turned into a dump and an eyesore.
Park dates to 1936
A 1936 Daily Courier article reported that city officials met to transform the site into a recreational area. Council members voted to apply to the WPA for a park — and the rest is history. East Park was built between 1936 and 1940. In October 1940, a grand opening featured a choir festival, a roller-skating contest on Pittsburgh Street, a Mardis Gras coronation and a Connellsville Cokers vs. Dunbar Mules football game.
Although the band shell needs repairs, the city's parks and recreation commission made use of it last summer when outside movies were held at East Park for the first time since the 1970s. The movies were such a hit that organizers said they will make an encore appearance this summer.
Laura Szepesi is a freelance writer.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com 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.
- Time to celebrate
- Carnegie Free Library plans Big Book Sale
- Geibel seniors land lead roles
- Rabies clinic for dogs, cats set for Saturday in Uniontown
- New Horizon 4-H member says showmanship, bonding key to showing lambs
- Western Pa. nonprofits roll dice on casino company grants
- ‘Phantom’ breezes into Laurel Highlands High School
- Suspect in Uniontown woman’s homicide surrenders to police, claims innocence
- Fayette tourism ambassadors sought
- Creepy, kooky cast bringing ‘The Addams Family’ to Connellsville Area stage
- Fayette County board OKs Energy Corp. of America to pump water from river for drilling site