Wednesday, April 8, 2020

Zion Lutheran Church's landmark parsonage razed

Zion Lutheran Church's parsonage being razed
8th St. between Park Rd. and Maplewood Ave.
Daily Citizen
November 2, 1948

Daily Citizen caption:
The former Zion Lutheran church parsonage on Park Rd. near Eighth St. is being razed. Constructed some 47 years ago, it is a landmark of the community. The residence was vacated when the congregation erected a modern home for their pastor, Rev. Frederick B. Haer and family, on the corner lot, Maplewood and 8th St.
If the parsonage was built in 1901, as the caption indicates, that means it was standing before there was an Ambridge, predating the building of the American Bridge plant. And it would have been older than the first Zion Lutheran Church, for which construction started in 1904. No wonder it was a landmark.

Although the caption describes the parsonage as being "on Park Rd. near Eighth St.," it actually sat very close to 8th St., about half way between Park Rd. and Maplewood Ave.

An article about the new parsonage in the September 16, 1948, Daily Citizen, said that the plan was to sell the old parsonage, but it was demolished less than two months later instead. Perhaps the congregation, thinking ahead, decided to retain the property so it might eventually build a new church building there?

Here's a photo of the replacement parsonage, still on the corner of Maplewood Ave. and 8th St., after construction was completed, and the pastor was getting ready to move in.

"Zion First Lutheran Church Parsonage Completed"
Daily Citizen
September 16, 1948

Sunday, April 5, 2020

500 block of Maplewood Ave. circa 1907 - 1913

These two vintage postcards show the 500 block of Maplewood Ave. from 5th St. looking north.

The upper card is the older of the two scenes. If you compare the two postcards, you'll see this first scene doesn't have the trees planted along the street that are shown in the lower card.

Note the horse and wagon way down the block, left side of the upper card.

The upper postcard with the older scene was never mailed, so there's no postmark to try to date the scene. But since the later postcard was mailed, and postmarked 1913, the scene on the older view must have been earlier.

More clues as to the date of the older postcard: Both postcards have divided backs on the address side, a style that the post office only allowed to be used beginning in 1907, so I know that the older postcard dates from after 1907. And before 1913. *

500 block of Maplewood Ave. looking north from 5th St.
circa 1907 - 1913

Compare the scenes in both postcards with this "now" photo taken by P. J. Shotter. Most of the houses shown in the two postcards are still there. As far as I can determine, the modern flat-roofed building on the right side of the photo, 510 Maplewood, was built on the last empty lot on the block in the 1950s. A podiatrist is there now. Earlier, it was was a dental office for many years.

500 block of Maplewood Ave. looking north from 5th St.
March 8, 2020
credit: P. J. Shotter

There's one other difference I see between the two cards: there's a house not in the older scene that's shown in the later one: 517 Maplewood, the third house on the left side of the later scene with the peaked roof and brown shingles at the top.

500 block of Maplewood Ave. looking north from 5th St.
postmarked 1913

Beaver County property records say 517 was built in 1916 which isn't possible. The house has to be older since it appears on a 1911 Sanborn insurance map** and the postcard mailed in 1913.

The yellow brick house with the pointed roof on the left side of the street in the "now" photo is also 517, so brick veneer may have been added after 1913. Better guess (maybe): although the postcard was mailed in 1913, the scene on the postcard predates 1911, since the 1911 Sanborn insurance map indicates the house was veneered. Either that, or the coloring of the houses on the postcard isn't accurate.

Here's the latest Google Street View of 517 and the neighboring houses on both sides:

515, 517, and 521 Maplewood Ave.
Google Street View
July 2019

Most of the street trees shown in the later postcard scene are now gone, although a few remain nearer to 6th St.  I wonder if they were some of the 200 - 300 trees planned for Ambridge for which the "shade tree commission" was accepting bids in 1908. (Daily Citizen, August 25, 1954)

Personal memory: I spent many happy visits to 517 Maplewood when my Uncle and Aunt, Pete and Helen Gause, lived there with my three cousins.

* And yes, I realize that just because the postcard was printed in 1907 that also means the scene on the card is from 1907. But the October 1905 Sanborn insurance map shows more empty lots in the 500 block on Maplewood than the scene appears to show. So 1907 seems to be a good approximate date of the earlier scene.

** On the 1911 Sanborn map, the address of the house that is now 517 Maplewood house was 508. Building addresses in Ambridge were changed in 1917, making Ambridge history involving old buildings so much more fun.

Here's the address side of the two postcards:

Address side of 1907 postcard

Address side of 1913 postcard