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Roselea Farm

Signals, April 2014


In 1905, Pittsburgh attorney George E. Shaw (see below) commissioned the architectural firm of MacClure and Spahr to design a summer home on 123 acres in Coraopolis Heights. The result was the imposing twenty-one room Tudor mansion at what the Shaws called Topthorn Farm. The estate was purchased ca. 1916 by Charles Lockhart, who added four rooms and had a “farmer’s cottage” built on the estate for the caretaker and his family.


When the Lockharts sold the estate in 1922, they subdivided the grounds, selling the mansion and 32 acres to David Crawford (see below), vice-president of Locomotive Stoker Company, who renamed the property Roselea Farm. In 1923, the adjacent 25 acres were sold to Lockhart’s nephew, John R. McCune IV. The Lockharts retained 51 acres east of McCune’s estate, and in 1927 they sold 15 remaining acres of the original farm to Lloyd Smith, president of Union National Bank.


Russell and Nancy Patton purchased the 32-acre farm in 1950, but the estate was condemned for lease purposes by the U. S. Government on behalf of the Air Force at the beginning of the Korean conflict, and the Pattons had to temporarily relocate. Forty-nine enlisted men were billeted in the main house, and the barn was used as an officers’ club. The property was returned to the Pattons in 1958.


The Pattons’ daughter and son-in-law, Nancy and Richard Mills, inherited Roselea Farm in 2003, and they have been restoring the grounds, gardens, main house, farmer’s cottage, tower house and large barn ever since. In 2004, they added a herd of goats, a donkey named Rick and a third barn, as well as a commercial greenhouse, which is now open to the public. In 2007, the historic barn was renovated and restored, and the farmer’s cottage was converted to a B & B.



 

Snowfall

by Margaret Dury

When the media start to complain about the recent “big” snowfalls, I have to grin – but then that shows my age.... Do you remember the Great Appalachian Storm of Thanksgiving weekend, 1950?


I’d been in Connecticut for a wedding on Friday, and on Saturday took the Greyhound bus from New York City to Harrisburg – a five hour trip, which arrived on schedule. It was when we headed west from Harrisburg that the weather started to deteriorate and the adventure began. The trip to Pittsburgh took 42 hours! Our bus led the way, picking up stranded people, including drivers of small trucks. When we got off the turnpike at Irwin (the end of the turnpike at that time), the very wise bus driver decided to get more fuel. The traffic that we had been leading was able to proceed only one mile further.


We were stranded in front of a motel; however, the snow was so deep that the units could not be reached. As I remember, the snowfall there was between 36 and 39 inches. Luckily, necessary supplies were kept in the motel owner’s home, which soon became our headquarters. There were over 60 people taking refuge. Car occupants stayed warm and slept in the house, and the bus passengers slept in the bus.

One woman announced that she had carrots and celery in the trunk of her car but could not get it open. The truck drivers volunteered to help, and soon the woman started to make soup. At the time I thought it strange that someone was transporting a large quantity of carrots and celery after Thanksgiving.


Next, the woman asked if there was a grocery store nearby. A small store was located about a mile away, and once again the truck drivers volunteered to go. They were given a list of what to try to find. They returned excited – they had found a box of Velveeta! Soon there was the aroma of homemade bread, and we were treated to grilled cheese sandwiches. Other than water, our beverage was reheated coffee grounds.

It turned out that this tall, lovely woman had been on her way to St. Louis to do a TV program on food. And, yes, her name was Julia, although it couldn’t have been Julia Child, who was in France in 1950. Our Julia was an extraordinary cook, nonetheless.


One of our passengers had a harmonica, and once in a while would play a ditty. Finally, when we could proceed westward, the bus driver took all his passengers as close to their destinations as possible. I was delivered on Monday, half a block from my Carnegie Tech dorm. A lot of the male students who had remained on campus made enough money shoveling snow to pay for their next semester’s tuition, including room and board! Now THAT was a SNOWFALL!



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