We have gyros until about 6 p.m., Dierkens Pharmacy parking lot, Main Street at Park Avenue.

An Amazing Time For Our City’s Downtown District

It is a wonderful time to sit down and write a newsletter for our little city’s Main Street business district. It is warm out, almost 90 degrees (I just took a break from writing and turned my air conditioning), and its getting harder to remember that we had snow just a couple of weeks ago as well as a winter that got a little worse in March and didn’t seem like it was ever going to end.

People are busy at work on at least two major downtown rehabilitation projects toward opening at least two new downtown businesses by July, “hard on the heels” of the 30 other Main Street area businesses that have opened in the last 30 months.

City Mission Update

Contractors are working away within the Towner’s Mammoth Store Building (which you may know better as McCrory’s or the Finishing Touch, depending upon your age, assuming you were born after the McCrory’s chain took over Towner’s Big Store about 100 years ago). The store will be a resale shop run by City Mission of Washington, Pa., putting back in place the kind of variety we had at the Hidden Treasures shop before they closed a few months ago.

Photo of building at 211 West Main Street, Monongahela, Pa. 15063 along rt 88 and rt 136. Photo property of the Monongahela Main Street Program.
The Towner’s Mammoth Store a.k.a McCrory’s a.k.a. The Finishing Touch building before remodeling.

In the last 24 hours, I had the pleasure of helping the City Mission leadership choose exterior paint colors for this large building. 

The building was designed by Frank Keller in 1904 after the three old buildings Towner’s Variety Store originally occupied burned down in 1903. When repainted in the next few weeks, the upper parts of the building will be a dark brick red, with bright white trim to accentuate the Classical Revival-style pressed metal flourishes.

Claude Towner

I’m sure that Claude Towner, who also founded our YMCA (which was in the third story of this building for a while) and rescued our local newspaper in 1924 after merging his store into the larger “Five and Ten” store chain, would agree with having a mission-type store here with widely varied merchandise and also with the idea that a mission group is rescuing his now aged building. Towner’s family donated the baptismal font and flower stand in his honor at the chancel of First United Methodist Church, and his name is engraved in the marble face of the flower stand.

Meanwhile, as much as Towner would approve of the move by City Mission, I think City Mission is thinking of the new kinds of opportunities they will have here that will make this location different from what they had in their prior location (where NAPA Auto Parts is now). This location will make them into more of a historic district tourist attraction, drawing in visitors who come to town to see concerts, or to attend our festival events, or just to stroll around and enjoy our historic downtown and our waterfront. I’m sure they will get new kinds of shoppers and maybe even more sales from this location by comparison to where they were before (where NAPA is now). We are looking at the possibility of using a traditional “Five and Ten Store” -type sign, something like you’d see at a traditional Woolworth’s or Murphy’s or McCrory’s Store.

Update On Deadhead Winery

I spoke to Mike Kissling today who is heavily into the work of converting the old Bebout and Yohe Funeral Home building on Second Street at the Chess Street corner into a first-class brewpub-style wine-bar to be called “Deadhead Winery.” Mike not only has a sizable crew at work rebuilding almost every part of the building, but in the large garage bays, on both sides of the building, he has been busy making wine of more than a dozen different varieties. Watch for this place when it hits the scene as a fully open business. It is sure to change Monongahela from that day forward.

And be careful what you say around any part of the substantial legacy of Claude Towner, who built the Five and Ten building, as he was easily the most prominent leader of the Prohibition movement in this City one hundred years ago.

Here’s Some Really BIG News

The Monongahela Main Street Program took a big step and joined the National Main Street Center, otherwise known as the Main Street America Program, just a week or so ago. The move was with full support of the Pennsylvania Downtown Center, the state’s non-profit Main Street Program coordinating agency. We’ve been a “Recognized Member” of the PDC now for several years, and we’ve participated in statewide conferences, and they recently recognized our M.y. Main St (Monongahela Youth Main Street) Program by awarding a statewide “Townie” award to Ethan Gamble, the M.y. Main St leader.

Ethan Gamble and
Ethan Gamble and Greg Gary, Mayor of the City of Monongahela

In fact, the PDC featured a photo of our mayor on their website, with Ethan behind him, taken as the mayor was drawing the numbers for last year’s basket auction where we had baskets representing most of the stores downtown.

Here’s Some Really, Really, Really BIG News

This coming Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday, the Main Street America Program will be holding its annual “Main Street Now Conference.”

And Monongahela is sending – get this! – 12 PEOPLE!! I am so excited… And because of the pandemic, the event is going virtual this year, making it easier for these 12 representatives of our community to attend, as opposed to, say, the year the conference was held in Indianapolis. Four years ago, when this national conference was in Pittsburgh, I attended, and I was able to register at half price because I offered to volunteer stuffing swag bags and helping people cross Pittsburgh streets in the rain as attendees moved from the hotel conference center to Heinz Hall for a massive plenary gathering. It was close enough that there were no hotel costs. I couldn’t get anyone else to go from our Main Street Program or business district that year. The next year, the national conference was held in Seattle, and we could never have been able to afford the airfare and hotel accommodations, let alone the conference registration. But this year – we have 30 new stores in town, two more under construction, seven façade projects about to begin, and we are sending 12 people to the conference. This is easily the most invigorating and informative event in the country each year for people involved in downtown revitalization. Woo-Hoo-ooo. and Hoorrayyy! Way to go Monongahela!! 

There are dozens of educational sessions, and different people will be attending different ones. Tuesday is Small Business Day, and several of our downtown businesses will be signing on specifically to network and share on that day with other business owners just like them around the country. With a bit of post-conference coordination, the things our people will learn will be shared around town, and they will bring home some really great ideas and enthusiasm.

City Trust

Interesting dialogue in the last 24 hours on a Facebook thread. I had just gotten my phone fixed at Mon Valley Phone Repair in Monessen, which I will recommend here for now because we don’t have a phone repair shop here in town yet, partly because John Turkovich the owner of the Monessen store hasn’t opened one yet (or moved here yet – I told him a couple of times he should). Right at the top of the thread, Josh suggested that I reply to the initial question. Now there was, as it unfolded, a long dialogue of great commentary (and some monologue, of course, …once I got started).

Dreams Overcoming Excuses

“Success occurs when dreams get bigger than your excuses.”

Colton Megela

Mark Jodon Reads Again!

One of our first local Main Street Program supporters when our board first formed almost six years ago was Mark Jodon, a Monongahela native and an attorney practicing in Texas. Mark is married to the former Kris Meucci. In addition to being an attorney, Mark is also an actively involved poet, publishing his poems in books and journals. He has written number of poems about Monongahela themes, and he gave an excellent reading that served as one of our Main Street Program’s first fundraising events.

From February 2016:

Last evening, he and a woman named Amal Kassir, a Syrian American, gave a virtual poetry reading to support a local arts center near Mark’s home in the Houston area. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to make it for the virtual presentation as it was happening, but I had shared the link on our page. Check out Mark’s Facebook page geared specifically to his poetry. The reading was called “Iconoclast.” A summary of it can be seen, partly in an interview format here.

Mark has suggested recently in a message to me that sometime when he is home he’d like to do another reading here like the one he did five years ago. Watch for it.

Upcoming

  • 11 April – 7PM – M.y. Main Street meeting, as a hybrid meeting, either attending in person at Sweets by Mrs. C, or signing on to the virtual version of the meeting (let us know if you would like the link to the virtual meeting).
  • 15 May – 10AM-3PM – Monongahela Main Street Program’s World of Chocolate Tour downtown shopping promotion.
  • 29 May – Street Fair Carnival event sponsored by Staci at Chloe and Me Candles.
  • 5 June – Spring Fleatique
  • 4 July – Independence Day! Yay-y-y! The fireworks are coming back!
  • 4 July – Also on Independence Day – M.y. Main St will hold the 3rd Annual “Railroad – Street Fair.” Fireworks at 9:45, “Railroad – Street Fair” primarily 6-9PM.

New Businesses In Town

DUSTY’S DISCOUNTS, is now open at 406 West Main Street (next to Tattoo Savior). This is a small variety store with soaps, umbrellas, kitchen items, and some unusual gifts.

NOEL’S PRIMITIVE SHOP AND GIFTS, in now open at 202 West Main Street (the West Main Street side of the former Elaine’s Salon location). This will be three rooms of antiques, primitive items for household décor, etc.

New President and Vice President

The Monongahela Main Street Program has had an election of new officers at the February board meeting. Tobias Provan will now be President (Hail, Mr. President), and Janet Roslund will be Vice President.

New Stores

Here’s a list of the 26 stores that have opened in the Monongahela – New Eagle Main Street area in the last twenty-seven months (there are actually a couple more, including two that opened and closed in that period, and about 4-5 either in the process of opening or just beginning the planning process)

  1. Bubblery Pittsburgh – soap shop with handmade soap, hand sanitizer, lip balm, etc., since Sept. 2018, 212 West Main, (724) 258-2598
  2. Cedarwood Insurance Options – Anthony Bottino III, insurance broker (upstairs from Bottino Financial/Allstate Insurance), since Nov 2018, 442 West Main, (724) 310-3695
  3. LuLaRoe by Amber Smittle – casual clothing, open by appointment, since Nov 2018, West Main Street at Fourth Street, (724) 678-3913
  4. Main Street Gypsy – gifts, jewelry, clothing, and furnishings, since May 2019, 219 West Main, (724) 292-8366
  5. Sweets by Mrs. C, Ice Cream and More – also has baked goods and nostalgic candies, since Aug 2019, 260 West Main, (724) 292-8392
  6. Alpha Outfitters Equestrian Supply – Western-wear and horseback riding items for the rodeo crowd, since Sept 2019, 168 West Main, (724) 366-0642
  7. Julie’s Hair Haven – haircare by appointment, since Oct 2019, 202½ Fourth Street, (412) 952-5177
  8. Octane Martial Arts – martial arts studio, sports/athletic training, and pro-shop selling related clothing, since Oct 2019, 
  9. The Potter’s House – event facility, since Oct 2019, 234 West Main, (724) 219-3290
  10. Bella Bug Bootique – casual clothing and costume jewelry, since Nov 2019, 1001 West Main. (The storefront location has closed for now, but the business is still very active online)
  11. Di’s Home Town Deli – deli meats, chicken salad, egg salad, lunch specials, etc., since Dec 2019, 218 West Main, (724) 292-1001
  12. Busta Suds Laundromat – laundromat (behind Two-and-a-Fry Hotdog place), since Dec 2019, c/o Two-and-a-Fry Hotdogs, 1115 West Main, (724) 310-3182
  13. The Compound Steel City – youth center for training in sports like wrestling, weight lifting, cheerleading, etc., since Jan 2020, 121 Railroad Street, (724) 426-6768
  14. Sambol’s Bakery – baked goods, cookies, lunch specials, since May 2020, 230 West Main, (724) 250-0100
  15. Candelore’s Barking Beauties – dog grooming salon, since July 2020, 111 West Main, (724) 292-8360
  16. Mon Valley Photo – photography, photo restoration, transfer of video cartridges to digital, antique cameras, since July 2020, 416 West Main, (724) 292-8415
  17. Zhuzh It Up – de-cluttering and interior decorating consulting firm, c/o Elizabeth Elias Huffman, 100 block of West Main, reachable via Facebook
  18. CPC Chiropractic – Dr. Christa Peifer, Chiropractor, since October 2020, 314 West Main, (412) 953-3103
  19. Santa’s Secret Shoppe – Christmas decorations, other holiday season items, and plenty of small gifts, since October 2020, 211 Second Street, (724) 554-3514
  20. Chloe and Me Candles – handcrafted candles and similar items, since November 2020, 205 West Main
  21. Mon City Supply – landscape construction materials and installation, since December 2020, (724) 810-6037, 1101 Railroad Street (behind Two-and-a-Fry)
  22. The Dog Emporium/Sit-Up Doggie Treats – gift shop for dogs, locally baked treats and dog biscuits baked by the shop owner at his other facility, since Feb 2020, 310 West Main Street (“downtown”), as of 26 January 2021 (previously was 118 Main Street, New Eagle), (724) 258-7297 
  23. Dusty’s Discounts – household items and gadgets, Kitchen-Aid mixers, umbrella’s, etc., since March 2021, 406 West Main Street (next to Tattoo Savior), contact Dusty Bradshaw Aldous via Facebook / Messenger
  24. Noel’s Primitives and Gifts – Antiques, primitives, and décor items, 202 West Main Street, (724) 825-9525
  25. Hog Fathers Olde Fashioned Barbecue – restaurant and bar, since 20 Jan 2020, 243 East Main Street (Catsburg), (724) 310-3757
  26. Sal’s Quality Auto Care – auto detailing and repairs, since May 2020, 130 East Main Street, (724) 310-2038
  27. Industrial Farmhouse Living – home décor, repurposed found objects, since Jan 2019, 144 Main Street, New Eagle, (724) 565-4447
  28. Full Circle Glass & Door Service – glass installer, since Aug 2019, 102 Main Street, New Eagle, (724) 998-7437

Opening soon:

  • City Mission Thrift Store
  • Wine Bar

WE HAVE A WONDERFUL CITY!

Terry A. Necciai, RA, Exec.Dir., MMSP


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