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Sewickley Heights Borough

Incorporated in 1935, Sewickley Heights Borough had a population of 857 in 2020 and occupies 7.3 square miles. It borders Bell Acres, Sewickley Hills, Aleppo, Sewickley and Edgeworth. It is today the only borough in Pennsylvania designated entirely as an historic district.

The borough was part of the Depreciation Lands and was formed from Sewickley and Aleppo townships. One of the original patents of over 1600 acres was issued to Thomas McKean, a signer of the Declaration of Independence and Pennsylvania’s first governor. Because McKean left his land to his daughter, who was married to the Spanish ambassador to the United States, the land was in Spanish hands from 1804 to 1881, leaving it undeveloped. This is remembered in today’s Spanish Tract Road. The Spanish Tract and adjoining land were purchased in the 1890s by Cochran Fleming, whose dairy farm eventually went bankrupt. His land was purchased by four wealthy Pittsburgh businessman, who retained acreage for themselves and other carefully chosen well-to-do men, on which they constructed summer estates as an escape from the noise and pollution of Pittsburgh.

The move of the Allegheny Country Club from Pittsburgh to the Heights in 1902 accelerated the construction of these grand estates and, eventually, improvements in technology and transportation enabled these families to live in the Heights year-round. Names associated with the Heights include Oliver, Jones, Snyder, Scaife, Thaw, Robinson, Chalfant, Dravo and Heinz.

Because of the threat of development and subdivision, Sewickley Heights Borough was formed to organize the community and to preserve it through the establishment of ordinances. Although many of the original houses were demolished in the 1950s and ‘60s, the character of the borough has been preserved by requiring a minimum lot size of five acres. In the 1950s, the borough annexed 3200 acres from surrounding townships, and in the 1960s Sewickley Heights Borough Park was created, with additional land purchased and donated in the 1990s. Sewickley Heights is also home to the Sewickley Heights History Center and Fern Hollow Nature Center. Wilpen Hall, the last remaining Gilded Age mansion on the Heights, was designed as a summer home in 1898 by George Orth for William Penn Snyder and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Pictures: Allegheny Country Club


Franklin Farm

Wilpen Hall

Farming at "Fairacres" -- Sewickley Heights

Haying on slope of 40 acres bought by Mr. Benjamin Franklin Jones, Jr., in November of 1898. With his wife, Sue Dalzell, a bride of 1893, Mr. Jones moved into the gray clapboard house in background in 1899. It was named "Fairacres" and faced Blackburn Road. Demolished in 1915, it was replaced by another on the same site, built in the Louis XIV style, which stood until 1964. R. W. Johnston; Mr. & Mrs. B. F. Jones, III

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