~ History ~
The first white man appeared in the vicinity of Latrobe about 1750. Christopher Gist was a surveyor, the first to give a detailed description of the areas of Western Pennsylvania and Ohio. At the outset of the French and Indian War, he accompanied the young George Washington on missions into the Ohio Country. Few people settled permanently in the area before 1769, when the Pennsylvania Land Offices were opened by the Penn proprietaries. Among the first land titles granted by the Commonwealth for the Latrobe area were those made to George Clark and Samuel Sloan, who built the first house in what is now the city of Latrobe. Other early settlers were brothers Archibald and William Lochry. William's restored blockhouse (pictured) still stands near the intersection of Routes 30 and 981.
In 1851, Oliver Barnes (a civil engineer for the Pennsylvania Railroad) purchased a 140 acre farm in Derry Township for the Pennsylvania Railroad, as that company wanted to connect the eastern part of the state with Pittsburgh and planned to build railroad yards there.
Plans changed and the yards were built instead in Derry, so he acquired the land for himself, laid out streets and lots, and named his new town Latrobe—in honor of his friend and railroad associate—Benjamin Henry Latrobe Jr. (pictured).
In 1854, Latrobe was incorporated as a borough and in a meeting held in the home of David Williams, on 17 June 1854, the first council was organized and David L. McCullough was elected the first Burgess of Latrobe.
Latrobe became "The Home of the Banana Split" (plaque pictured) when David Strickler, a young pharmacist working at Tassel's Pharmacy on Ligonier Street, invented the popular treat in 1904. Another "first" for Latrobe occurred on 12 May 1939, with the first non-stop airmail pick-up was made at Latrobe Airport.
Two interurban trolley lines served Latrobe (one pictured): The Westmoreland County Railway Company connected Latrobe to Derry (1904—1932); and the Latrobe Street Railway Company in 1900, connecting Latrobe to Kingston. West Penn Railways purchased the line and eventually linked to its network running through Youngstown, Pleasant Unity and eventually to Greensburg and Uniontown. Trolley service ceased in 1952. From 1895 until 1909, Latrobe was the home of the Latrobe Athletic Association, one of the earliest professional football teams.
The 1900s continued to show steady growth in Latrobe. The Borough grew to six wards as more areas of Derry and Unity Townships were incorporated into the Borough. Steel companies emerged in the first half of the century: Latrobe Electric Steel, Railway Spring Steel (pictured), Vanadium Alloys, McKenna Metals, and Vulcan Mold. Brickyards and distilleries continued to flourish, in addition to a woolen mill, a ceramics company, and even a mattress factory. Coal mines, steel mills, and the railroad were major employers, along with a steadily growing variety of businesses and stores in downtown Latrobe. The population of the town increased as more and more European immigrants—particularly Irish, German, Italian, Polish, and Slovak—were attracted by the employment opportunities in the area.
The population of Latrobe reached its peak of 11,932 in 1960, but today, the number inhabitants has declined to about 8,338 (2010). Latrobe is currently trying to revitalize itself. One constant has always been the resilience of all of Latrobe's citizens.
Latrobe Historical Society
~ Pennsylvania Railroad Station ~
In 1986, the Pennsylvania Railroad Station at 325 McKinley Avenue was added to the National Register of Historic Places. It was opened by the Pennsylvania Railroad in 1903, to elevate the right-of-way as it passed through Latrobe.
A late Victorian style, one-story brick building with eight bays wide and five bays deep. It has a flat roof with parapet and a central cross gable. The gable end over the main entrance has a pediment with stone panels and terra cotta decoration.
~ Citizens National Bank ~
In 2002, the Citizens National Bank building at 816 Ligonier Street was added to the National Register of Historic Places.
Also known as Mellon National Bank Building, it was designed by noted architect Batholomew & Smith and built in 1926. It is a six-story, "L"-shaped, steel frame and masonry building in the Italian Renaissance Revival style. It has a brick and granite exterior and a flat roof. It is the tallest building in Latrobe.
~ Arnold Palmer Regional Airport ~
The Arnold Palmer Regional Airport is a public airport two miles southwest of Latrobe, which started as Longview Flying Field (1924), J.D. Hill Airport (1928), Latrobe Airport (1935) and Westmoreland County Airport (1978).
In 1999, the name was changed to Arnold Palmer Regional, to honor the golf legend born here. The Airport has an updated terminal, air-traffic control tower, newly extended runway and elegant restaurant, conference and banquet facilities. The world's first official airmail pickup occurred here in 1939.
~ Early Jewish Settlers ~
In 1864, the first recorded Jewish settlers in Latrobe were:
Henry FELLHEIMER (b. 8 March 1830, in Ichenhausen, Bavaria, Germany) was the first Jew to settle in Latrobe in 1864. He was a substantial citizen being elected as Assistant Burgess. He owned a clothing store at the corner of Depot and Ligonier Streets. He was married to Henrietta GEISENBERG (b. 1839, Philadelphia, PA)
Also in 1864, Marx FELLHEIMER (b. 8 June 1836, Ichenhausen, Bavaria, Germany), brother of Henry, settled in Latrobe. He worked for Henry in his clothing store as a clerk. He was married to Henrietta EINSTEIN (b. 1841, Hagerstown, MD)
Next, Simon SCHOTT settled in Latrobe. He operated a clothing store for a short time in the Miller Hotel Building on Ligonier Street.
In 1846, in nearby Youngstown (about 2 miles from Latrobe), it is worthwhile to mention that the earliest Jewish settlers were:
Fanny (née GRABENHEIM) HART (b. 26 May 1804, Aldingen, Germany) immigrated in 1840, and settled in Youngstown in 1846 with her children, and her brothers:
Samuel HART (b. 1 May 1807, Aldingen, Germany)
Cyrus HART (b. 12 January 1814, Aldingen, Germany)
Morris HART (b. 31 March 1816, Aldingen, Germany)
Cyrus DETTLEBACH (b. 1812 in Jebenhausen, Germany) [son-in-law of Fanny]
Most of the Jews arriving in Latrobe settled in the First Ward area, in a section that became known as "Jew Town".
Following are a few notable citizens born in Latrobe:
Gregory S. Forbes, Ph. D. (b. Latrobe, 22 August 1950), is The Weather Channel's current severe weather expert and has a significant research background in the areas of severe convective storms and tornadoes. He earned a B.S. degree in meteorology at Pennsylvania State University, and studied tornadoes and severe thunderstorms at the University of Chicago, where he obtained his M.S. and Ph.D. Dr. Forbes served as field manager for the Project NIMROD, the first measurement program to study damaging thunderstorm winds from downbursts and microbursts. He then joined the faculty in the Department of Meteorology at Penn State in 1978, where he taught courses in weather analysis and forecasting, natural disasters, and other topics until joining The Weather Channel (TWC) in June 1999. Dr. Forbes has had a variety of experiences outside of the classroom, including surveying the damage paths left by about 300 tornadoes and windstorms, including Hurricane Andrew and Typhoon Paka. He continues limited research and was on the development team of the Enhanced Fujita Scale which in 2007 replaced the original Fujita Scale from 1971.
Daniel Lentz (b. Latrobe, 10 March 1942), is a classical electronic music composer who achieved notability as a musician while a student at Brandeis University, when he was awarded a fellowship in composition at Tanglewood in the summer of 1966. This was followed by a Fulbright Fellowship in Electronic Music in 1967-68 completed in Stockholm, Sweden. As a visiting lecturer at the University of California in 1968 and in 1970, he focused more on composing and performing, forming a music ensemble, the California Time Machine, touring North America and Europe. In 1972, Lentz won the Gaudeamus International Composers Award and a number of other awards and grants. He then formed and led another music ensemble, the San Andreas Fault, which made several tours of the North America and Europe and released several recordings in Europe. Returning to California, Lentz formed the Daniel Lentz Group in Los Angeles. This ensemble has toured much of the world and has released a number of recordings. His 1987 album, The Crack in the Bell, was the first contemporary classical release from Angel/EMI Records.
Chris Lightcap (b. Latrobe, 21 November 1911),is a double bassist, bass guitarist and composer. He has worked with a variety of artists and his playing is featured on over 60 albums. In addition to work as a sideman, he has led a variety of bands since 2000 and has produced three critically acclaimed albums of original music. His first two CDs as a leader, Lay-Up (2000) and Bigmouth (2003) featured a quartet line-up. He later expanded the group to a quintet named Bigmouth. In 2010, Bigmouth recorded Deluxe, his third CD as a leader. The Wall Street Journal called the recording "superb" and named one of the best releases of 2010 by the New York Times, NPR, the Village Voice, and Jazz Times, among other publications. In 2006, he received a commission to compose for the ensemble counter (induction, which premiered his piece Wiretap at the Tenri Cultural Center on 16 October 2006. In 2011 he received a New Jazz Works grant from Chamber Music America. Bigmouth premiered Lightcap's resulting work, Lost and Found at the Earshot Jazz Festival in 2012 in Seattle, WA. The work was broadcast on NPR for the show Jazzset with Dee Dee Bridgewater. A performance of the piece was reviewed by the New York Times.
Arnold Daniel Palmer (b. Latrobe, 10 September 1929), is a professional golfer, who is generally regarded as one of the greatest players in men's professional golf history.
He has won numerous events on both the PGA Tour and Champions Tour, dating back to 1955. Nicknamed "The King", he is one of golf's most popular stars and its most important trailblazer, because he was the first superstar of the sport's television age, which began in the 1950s. Palmer's social impact on behalf of golf was perhaps unrivaled among fellow professionals; Palmer's humble background and plain-spoken popularity helped change the perception of golf as an elite, upper-class pastime to a more democratic sport accessible to middle and working classes. Palmer is part of "The Big Three" in golf, along with Jack Nicklaus and Gary Player, who are widely credited with popularizing and commercializing the sport around the world. He won the PGA Tour Lifetime Achievement Award in 1998, and in 1974 was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame.
Fred Rogers (b. Latrobe, Fred McFeely Rogers, 20 March 1928), was a educator, Presbyterian minister, songwriter, author, and television host. Rogers was most famous for creating and hosting Mister Rogers' Neighborhood (1968-2001), which featured his gentle, soft-spoken personality and directness to his audiences.
Educated to be a minister, Rogers was displeased with the way television addressed children and made an effort to change this when he began to write for and perform on local Pittsburgh-area shows dedicated to youth. Television Station WQED developed his own show in 1968, distributed nationwide. Over the course of three decades on television, he became an indelible American icon of children's entertainment and education, as well as a symbol of compassion, patience, and morality. He was also known for his advocacy of various public causes. He received the Presidential Medal of Freedom, some forty honorary degrees and a Peabody Award. He was inducted into the Television Hall of Fame and the Smithsonian Institution displays one of his trademark sweaters as a "Treasure of American History". He died on 27 February 2003 at age 74.
Dr. Greg Forbes - Facebook
Daniel Lentz - daniellentzmusic.com
Chris Lightcap - Wikipedia
Arnold Palmer - arnoldpalmer.com
Fred Rogers - imdb.com
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