Our November 2017 Calliopica newsletter and calendar, featuring the recently completed facade project at 211 Second Street, by George Stasko, both owner and contractor is now available. We are also posting a “before” image if you would like to see it for comparison. George was wonderful to work with on this project.
BTW – We had a great bus tour to Brownsville on November 4th.sponsored by our Main Street Program, and involving severalbuildings there owned by the Brownsville Area Revitalization Corporation (or BARC, MARC’s equivalent there). We saw lots of amazing projects that are underway as that community rebuilds after years of decline. The evening ended with a buffet-style meal at an event where homemade wine is shared for tasting. Our board chairman Dan Tregembo is working on a video using photos and video footage he shot on the trip. More on all that later.
Wasn’t that a big Veterans Day Parade this morning?! Line-up started at 11AM at Chess Park, but they lined up the military units on West Main Street from the park back to the Library, and lined up all the high school bands on Seventh Street and Chess Street. It was fun watching them flow together, taking turns to pass in front of the park, especially with all the shiny instruments, sequins, tinsel pom-poms, and other shimmering things the band members had with them. Behind the military units, there was a line-up of a few large tow trucks and many, many fire trucks extending back as far as Eat’N Park. It seemed like it must have been every fire truck stationed in at least three counties. As I understand it, they closed most of Railroad Street in addition to all of West Main and parts of Chess Street. There was no parking anywhere on West Main Street, from Sheetz to Eat’N Park until after the parade, but we still somehow had a pretty good crowd of spectators.
I heard a bell ring several times at noon as the parade was beginning. I believe it was the bell at Bethel AME. A piece of historical information: there was no bell in the belfry at Bethel AME when the church was built. But then in September 1987 (30 years ago!), the steeple was struck by lightning and had to be taken down and built anew. A bell happened to be available at just that moment to be placed here, and it just happened to be the first bell ever to have been rung in Monongahela. Known as the “Old Carriage Factory Bell,” it came to Monongahela at least as early as ca.1830 and was mounted in a little belfry on the roof of an old stone factory building that stood approximately where DeVore Hardware is now. That building became derelict and was demolished in 1882. Just as it was being torn down, some of the people who had been attending Bethel AME decided to start a Baptist church, which was called “Second Baptist,” and they built a little frame church building on the high point of Geary Street, built 1882. The church was in operation for a little less than a century, but then the building became a fraternal lodge for a few years. It was torn down in the mid-1980s, not long before the lightning struck the Bethel AME steeple, thus making it available to place in the tower before the steeple went back up. When the Old Carriage Factory Bell first came to Monongahela, there were no other devices that could be heard by large crowds to tell people what time it was, or when work or school or church was starting, or to warn of a fire, or commemorate a funeral. It was rung at all these times ( – one presumes from what the history sources say, at the beginning and end of the work shift, beginning and end of the school day, at 11AM for church, as well as when a fired broke out, and when a funeral was passing up Main Street) until other bells were acquired by the various churches and schools.
Don’t forget that this coming Friday is Light-Up Night – when Santa arrives in Monongahela ( – take notice, kids, he comes to Monongahela first!). There will fireworks just as it is getting dark (Chief Tempest wanted to make sure I squeezed that part in somewhere). Last year it was an unusually warm day and we had about 4,000 people out along West Main Street, enjoying the musical ensembles and carolers, dance performances, kiddie train rides in Chess Park, food booths, and other festivities. There will be lots of hot chocolate at Little City Coffee, and you can enjoy a Christmassy stroll in the warmth of the candles that will be lit in about one mile of paper bag luminaria.
Terry Necciai, Executive Director
Monongahela Main Street Program