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Alle-Kiski Valley Historical Society & Museum

Alle-Kiski

Alle-Kiski Valley Historical Society & Museum

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Location Details

PHONE: 724-224-7666
ADDRESS: 224 East 7th Avenue
Tarentum, PA 15084
HOURS: Mon, Wed, Fri: Noon-3pm
COST: Adults:$3; Children:$2

Event Details

Fleatique

Description

Back in 1931, a group of Tarentum’s World War I veterans joined forces to create a gathering place for friends and family. The result was an Art Deco American Legion Hall. Defined by a ballroom resplendent with panels of cobalt blue and gold mirrored glass made by PPG, Post 85 hosted its share of wedding receptions, bingo nights, and big-band dances.

But through the decades, veterans of other wars began to view the hall as a reminder of a time and place to which they no longer felt a connection. So, in 1967, the building was sold to the then-fledgling Alle-Kiski Valley Historical Society (AKVHS).

These days, the ballroom still dazzles, but now its primary function is to show off the displays accumulated by the AKVHS. The exhibits include glasswork from local companies – Challinor and Taylor, Richards & Hartley, and Tarentum Glass – and artifacts from a variety of wars dating back to the American Revolution. The AKVHS also boasts a standout collection from the nearby Alcoa plant, with a room completely dedicated to Kensington Ware which was produced in nearby New Kensington. A floor-to-ceiling mural of the region post-World War II greets visitors as they enter the building.

"Most of the things have been given to us from families in the area,” says one AKVHS board member. “Sometimes people just walk in with bags filled with stuff,” and sometimes those items turn out to be priceless, such as the U.S. Navy uniform from World War I. The Museum Manager’s office has an entire table full of the donations AKVHS receives until there is time to organize and meticulously catalog the new additions.

The AKVHS boasts a standout collection of Kensington Ware from the nearby New Kensington Alcoa plant and also recognizes its local celebrities. The Museum owns more than 500 glass plates negatives and prints from the region (circa 1906-1908) taken by local photographer George A. Burtner. There are 21 prints by photojournalist Eddie Adams, who grew up in New Kensington and went on to win the Pulitzer Prize for his photographs of war, historical events, and world leaders from Fidel Castro to Mother Teresa. The works of Robert Olszewski have also been added to the collections of AKVHS, with the help of his brother Ray. A Natrona Heights native, Robert now works for the Walt Disney Company sculpting and designing miniatures, which AKVHS now has on permanent display. His early works reflect his youth in the Allegheny Valley, such as “The Saxonburg Carnival” and “Portrait of My Father”.

Downstairs there’s a saw shop, vintage kitchen, a grocery store, Bain’s Barber Shop, Dr. Bruno’s dental office (with a foot-petal drill) and the Eureka Hose & Fire Company. The AKVHS takes a hands-on approach to history. Their goal is not only to preserve but also to celebrate the ethnic, cultural, and industrial heritage of the valley.

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