Life in Washington County PA Genealogy and Family History - Uptown Landmarks from North Main St. - pg1

Life in Washington Co., PA "Little Washington" 
1700s to Present


Town-Talk about Towns in Washington County PA

Washington PA


This pages gives a first-person perspective and information
about some landmarks in the City Of Washington.

Rather than fact-only (and often boring) information, I'd like to describe my impressions and experiences of some landmark places in Washington. Strictly history type information can be easily found on other Washington County, PA websites.

by Judith Ann Florian

Washington County Courthouse, Washington City Jail, Washington Trust Building, The Annex Lunch Counter, The old G. C. Murphy's five & dime store, Basel Theater (later the Uptown Theater), Caldwell's Building, George Washington Hotel (Apartments), Taylor's Pharmacy and Soda Fountain Shop, Roller Rink, Shorty's Hot Dog Shop, Union Grill, The David Bradford House, The LeMoyne House, Greyhound Bus Station (old, older, oldest), B. & O. Train Station on South Main St., Library (old & "new"), Post Office (Old and New), Washington Park, Washington Hospital, The Washington Hospital School of Nursing (with picture), and the Trolley Museum....

Here are my personal perspectives of the Uptown Area, focusing mostly from 1960s to 1980s and giving some current information.

CENTER OF TOWN - MAIN STREET from the Court House going North

Washington County Courthouse:

Earliest memory -

My first memory of the Courthouse was the visit by John F. Kennedy, presidential candidate. My father was a partly-disabled postal carrier and my parents were working to form the NALC (National Association of Letter Carriers) and its local chapter. My sister Colleen, three years older than me, had created a poster to give to JFK.

We were all waiting for Mr. Kennedy on the Beau Street side of the Courthouse, along with a small throng of other people. We were all dressed in our Sunday best. My sister was able to get close enough to give JFK her poster and say a few words before we were asked to step back. Later, JFK and his wife sent our family signed 8x10 photos of them and their children.

My parents succeeded in developing the beginning NALC in which they were active until they died (dad in 1970 and mom in 1973).

In Grade School -

The first time walking into the Courthouse, one cannot help but be impressed by the huge dome. It looked even bigger to a child of 8 years, tilting my head way back while standing on the first floor. Walking up the grand staircase, it is almost dizzying to look up, yet one's eyes are drawn to study the dome. And, having watched a good share of musicals during childhood, I remember thinking how it wonderful it would look if ladies in ballroom gowns were descending those stairs! And one time after misbehaving at home, I could hear Perry Mason's theme song in my head, and imagined how Mr. Mason and Della Street might prove my innocence! Of course, too, my child's mind remembered the Shirley Temple movies that I loved so much, and how some of her dance routines were done on staircases - I wondered how much her taps would echo through the huge halls....

Near the top, the staircase branches right and left. Children love to pick whichever side their parent is not using, and try to beat them to the railed 2nd floor, just as I did as a child.

Throughout the courthouse, ornate thick wood surrounds visitors. Thousands of hands have slid across the smooth railings to the second floor, then along the banister that goes around the hallway up there, where hundreds upon hundreds of people have leaned to watch people on the stairs below. Thousands of hands have turned the brass door knobs at the outside entrances on front or either of the two sides of the courthouse... and in going into the offices for wills, deeds, prothonotary, etc. - only to be surprised at the door's heavy weight, bringing an extra hard shove of a shoulder (or even their rear end!) to gain entrance. Thousands of moms have navigated the outside and inside stairs with babies in strollers, or toddlers in tow. And the steady stream of briefcases attached to lawyers who have been hurrying to meet with plaintiffs or defendants...or even a Judge.

As a genealogy researcher -

The busyness inside the Courthouse becomes even more apparent when spending a day (or many days) there as a researcher. Title searchers sit perched on stools in the deeds office... Attorneys flutter in and out of offices, filing paperwork before deadlines. In addition to Indexes and Ledgers, Deed Books and Will Books, several of the main offices have heavy steel vaults (painted green), their doors jutting open into the office space. Treasures of records can be found on both the first floor and in the Law Library (basement floor). The attic used to hold cardboard boxes of old records; the public is not allowed on the third floor anymore.

I've learned that much of what existed in the courthouse in the 1980s is greatly different today. Vaults have been cleared of many of the oldest records. These have been sent to several locations in, and outside, of City and County limits. Some records are stored in places across Main Street. The ever-increasing paper load caught up with the County, threatening to take over every available shelf, case, vault, corner and nook-and-cranny that could be found. Whereas our ancestors could expect delays in having recorders and registrars actually record their hand-delivered documents, people today must expect a delay of days to a couple weeks to have county workers retrieve many of these old records. And, while historians could actually touch the papers their own ancestors created and handled, now much of those older records have been microfilmed and the originals stored (supposedly -- many originals have ended up on E-Bay in the last few years!).

Washington City Jail: -

Luckily, I had never been inside the city jail. Originally, it was a squat, square building to the rear of the left side of the Courthouse on the alley side (W. Cherry Avenue). My earliest memory was going to the old library through a doorway on Brownson Avenue, a side alley off Cherry. (Boy that library was small!) Walking down Cherry, any number of men stood at the grilled windows of the jail, yelling out, trying to get the attention of passersby, trying to make a connection to the outside world. What stood out the most about the old side of the jail were the heavy grilled windows and stone structure.

Later, the jail was expanded towards West Beau St., with a large fenced yard extending from behind the courthouse towards Franklin St.

Any number of offenses were lodged against folks in the early days of the county. The Census over the years gives a good glimpse of the people, and old newspapers often carried the story of what brought a person to jail. Back in the 1800s, a baby or children went to jail with their mother in situations when there was no one else to care for her children.

I was shocked to hear that most of the old jail was torn down within the recent years. The dank, dark, and leaky place had become unsafe for inmates and guards. The "new" jail looks like apartments, according to my brother-in-law, and a new office building has also been erected on part of the site.


Citizens Library (old locations & "new") -

According to the Citizens Library website, the original library, initiated by Dr. Francis J. LeMoyne in 1870, was located in the Town Hall [but it does not say where the Town Hall was built in 1869]. In conversing with long-time librarian, Patty Thompson, the library has previously been located in several buildings during her lifetime; she had worked in all four. For a time it was located in City Hall upstairs, above the police station. It had also occupied part of the Avery Methodist Church on Beau Street. A third location was in the Masonic Temple which faces the fire station. And for a time, the adult library was opposite the old jail.

I remember as a young child with my mom entering a side door off Bronson, just below the jail. We walked up narrow stairs to a second floor area. It was very, very dark stairway, and a rather small area upstairs. A kind lady allowed me to borrow 4 children's books. Patty Thompson thought I might have been describing the rear of the Masonic Temple building -- but I don't know. I just remember being happy to take home my new treasures.

By the mid 1960s, Citizens Library moved to its current location at 55 South College. My sister, Diana, began working at the Library during high school, working her way up to becoming the Personal Secretary-Assistant to then-Director Norman Lyon. I remember going to visit her at work where she had her own office area. My other two older sisters followed, also holding library jobs year-round during high school, as I also did during part of my high school years.

The College Street location faces College, with double doors a few steps up from the sidewalk. But because there is no parking on College, which is a one-way street running north to south, most people never use the front doors. Instead, parking is off Wheeling Street, or the alley. I think it's always been a metered lot; folks who've parked there and tried to run uptown know how hard it is to get back before the short time allowed on the meters.

The white double-doors at the rear open onto a set of steps, then doors, and then to a short hallway. On both sides of the steps, and on just the right hand-side of the hall are display cases that hold various books (on a theme usually), or artifacts of different kinds.

We always called the genealogy section of the library "the Cage," since a golden-colored metal "cage" surrounded it. This area is locked and can only be accessed by Staff. I spent a number of hours in the cage during the 1980s when doing research for my grandmother. The reference librarian is always happy to help library patrons and genealogy researchers.

Roller Rink -

My older sisters would remember the roller rink more than I would. It was about a fourth of the way down West Beau St., Washington, PA. The one visit I had there as a child, I only remember a darkened room with lights centered on the rink area. And bunches of groups of teenagers (and I was little, so it wasn't much fun for me). I am told that about 10 years after I moved to Ohio, they moved the rink to Canonsburg (off the Canonsburg exit).

The Washington Restaurant -

This is one place that none of the current workers at the Courthouse seem to remember. But 25 years ago, it continued to be a very, very, very busy uptown eatery located just a fourth of the block down Main St (from Beau) on the same side as the Trust Building. It had a short 2 foot slope up to its doorway, then 2 sets of glass single doors (i.e. Open the first, then open the second door. The enclosure was so small that 4 people would have had trouble fitting in between the 2 doors. As it was they had a cigarette machine there and a spot for umbrellas in the corner, so only 2 people could comfortably pass by each other between the doors.

Inside on the right just inside the second door was a metal coat rack. Men placed their hats on the shelf above the coats. And immediately in front of the door was the beginning of the low counter area that ran down half the right-hand side wall. Low stools were attached to the low counter, which was shaped like 1/2 of a very long pool. Behind the counter, a short order cook kept the waitresses moving. The grill was along the back wall, so mostly we only saw the cook's back, or could watch as he scraped the surface with the large metal spatula, sliding the extra grease or bits of onion, hamburger or eggs off to one side and into the side receptacle.

For breakfast, there were several types of fried eggs, with fried potatoes, sausage or bacon, toast, and hot coffee, tea or milk. They made chocolate milk with syrup. There were stacks of pancakes or french toast. Construction workers and businessmen would pour in through the doors, ready for breakfast, a little conversation, and to share the several daily newspapers left by other customers on the counter for anyone to read. Before 8 a.m. many would have already left, with the remainder staying until just before 8:30. Staying longer sometimes were students from the high school who had a study hall first period or-- who were cutting school.

Lunch time was much the same except for the food selections. Now came burgers and fries mostly, with your choice of what was on the burger. Businessmen and county workers expected a fast lunch, and that is what was given, from ordering to finishing eating all done in an hour. Out the door they'd go, ready to resume their work And those who had been waiting up front would hurry to the empty table or stool, even before the waitress had had time to bus the table and collect her tip from the previous customer.

They had an evening meal also, but it was infrequent that high school kids were there then. But residents who lived in rooms above uptown stores would come to get a hot evening meal and some social contact.

No one remembers when the restaurant closed, and few knew where it was located so I could not find out what business has taken this spot now.

The old G. C. Murphy's five & dime store: -

Located next to Pine Alley, G. C. Murphy's had the typical swinging doors of other stores on the block. Several check-outs were up front with the usual candy displays nearby, and gumball machines (later came ones with small toys and trinkets instead of gum).

Straight ahead from the front doors was a double-wide stair case of maybe 30 steps, about 10 feet across. These stairs led to the basement, where shelves held boxes and boxes of shoes, and kitchen ware, and where sales were often held on other merchandise housed in the basement. A check out area sat to the right at the bottom of the stairs. It was often quicker to use this check-out, especially when the store was having end-of-season sales and the lines upstairs grew long.

On the first floor, an aisle on the right next to the stairs went down the store to the back. And a few aisles were to the left of the basement stairs. Display bins were set up along the 3 sides of railing on the first floor, preventing anyone from accidentally falling into the stair case.

To the far right of the stairs on the first floor they sold fresh popcorn, candy, and other things at the counter. Newly made popcorn and butter wafted through the store all the way out onto the front sidewalk, especially in the summer when the sets of doors were often propped open during the day.

To the far left was the jewelry counter.

The long plank flooring that ran from front to back of the store was oiled regularly, but the floor still creaked, squeaked and groaned with every footstep. In places in the middle of and between aisles, the floor slanted slightly downward, and children could often be seen trying to slide in those sections, before a mom or dad admonished them to "stop doing that!"

This was a store that carried just about "everything under the sun" except furniture. The type of displays and counters were unusual. Square box-type counters held the merchandise, with wood partitions separating the various small items and stacks of neatly folded clothing were held in the deep bins. Each box-style counter had a display of bins jutting out and up from the back, several feet higher than the square table-top bins. Behind the back displays was a center island between the box-bin table-top counters. Inside each island area, a sales woman was ready to help, and also to re-stock merchandise almost immediately as it had been removed by a customer. As a short young child, I could barely see the sales persons. The first time I remember realizing there was a person "back there" was catching sight of her between two packages and I was startled! She made me jump about three feet! Extra merchandise was kept underneath the counters, within easy reach of customers and clerks.

Holidays were special at Murphy's. The entire store was decorated with items of that holiday. Easter egg baskets of all sizes lined the tops of displays - some baskets were huge. They used the crinkly, colored cellophane wrapping around each basket, and inside each basket was one or two huge solid chocolate bunnies. Here and there on the floor were pieces of the colored grass used in the baskets. It was quite clear that the Easter Bunny had already been here and dropped off plenty of goodies!

Christmas was no different, with garlands draped neatly over the tops of the store displays and down the poles through the store. Some areas had the old glass Christmas tree lights strung over and around the displays. As in every year, their Lionel train had been set on its track and was on prominent display. Toward the back of the store, the employees had decorated a large Christmas tree with beautiful glass bulbs and lights, the angel topping the tree, and every branch covered with the silvery icicles dangling from everywhere. It was the real kind of icicles, not the fake plastic feeling kind that is made today. Near the tree sat Santa on his big red velvet chair, where he'd take every baby and child onto his knee for the annual "picture with Santa."

Shelves throughout the store had boxes and boxes of trains, icicles glass bulbs, and angels. Garlands were laid together, folded and held with a cardboard wrapper in the center. Numerous wreaths were for sale. And of course, the Salvation Army bell ringer with their distinctive bucket was always outside of Murphy's every year (or just inside the door on bitterly cold days).

But Murphy's wasn't just popular at Christmas and other holidays. Housewives depended on finding what they needed at Murphy's. The housewares section of the store was generously stocked. Men could find almost anything in the hardware area. Children of course loved the toys, many of which were under $1.00. While Penny's across the street had fancy, silk dresses, women could find long-wearing cotton dresses and dusters on Murphy's racks.

People could easily shop for almost all their needs in one easy block. Teak's Shoe Store, on Main Street across Pine Alley from Murphy's had the latest shoes, if one couldn't find a pair they liked at Murphy's. Clothing was available in a number of stores, covering a good price range and offering a selection for men and women. And before or after shopping, one could stop to take in a movie.

It was a sad day when Murphy's closed. People almost felt guilty for buying at their going-out-of-business sale, since everyone knew the last merchandise represented the loss of a fine old store, as well as the end of a tradition of family shopping trips. But, uptown by then was dying. Shoppers had been drawn to Malls and stores like Murphy's could not compete. In the end, the doors of Murphy's were locked and covered with brown paper until a new business came into the building. (Written with help from DJB. For more info, see the History of G. C. Murphy's.)

Penny's - on right of Main going toward Chestnut. Aunt Mary Ruthermund worked there.

more coming...


Islay's - Robert Lane worked for a time at Islay's on Main St. which was located closer to Chestnut St. side.

more coming...



three Basel Theater (later the Uptown Theater)-

This was on the corner of Chestnut and Main St. I can remember going to see Love Story and Clockwork Orange there in 10th grade (1974?). Yep, Clockwork Orange in 10th grade. I attended Immaculate Conception High School and had a young male (and quite cute) teacher for English Class and who made Clockwork Orange one of our assigned books to read that year. Then, after finishing the novel, one afternoon we walked Chestnut Street as a group, up to the theater to see the movie. Most parts were so off-color that more than a few parents later complained. Of course, parts of Love Story probably made parents uncomfortable too.

The door to the theater is the corner of the building. Then, inside the concession stand was along the right wall. I think it only had one screen. I don't remember much else about the place.

The theater has now become a place that showcases live bands and entertainment. The Observer-Reporter has written many pieces about it in the last few years.

NOTE: "I enjoyed the website on Washington, Pa. One mistake I caught. The old Basil Theater changed its name to the Midtown Theater, not the Uptown Theater. Great job though, I enjoyed the stroll down memory lane." - from E-mail from 'gcar' dated June 12, 2011

Court Theater- "The theater on West Chestnut, was the Court Theater The Washington Theater was across the street from the State Theater. State on left facing north, Washington on the right. They were several doors down from the alley that ran beside Murphy's and Penney's." - from E-mail received from "Janice" on Dec. 6, 2011

"I remember the Washington Rest that you describe a few feet from Beau St. There was a second Wash Rest on the same side of the street near Isaly's. The Washington Theater that you describe on Chestnut St. was the Court Theater that showed westerns on Saturdays. Yes, the COURT was next to Pete Paradise's candies. The Washington Theater was located opposite the State Theater on Main St. I worked at both theaters in the 50's. The Washington Theater later became the Penn Theater. My mother worked as a cashier at the Basle Theater in the 50's before she worked for 20 years at the Chamber of Commerce (Gladys Aurouze). There were two Herd's Drugs on Main St., one at the corner of Beau St. and a second near Isalys (Referred to as Lower Herd's) about the second business down from Chestnut St. Thrift Drugs was opposite lower Herd's. Approaching Beau St from Murphy's was another 5 & dime called W.T. Grants and on the corner of Beau St opposite UPPER HERD's was Richmond Clothes where I got my first suit. The State Theater was the largest in town. and had a very nice balcony. I remember putting the letters on the Marquee for the 1956 premiere of The 10 Commandments. The Washington Theater had a small balcony and was seldom used. I graduated from WHS in 1958, went into the Air Force for 4 years and joined the Washington, D.C. Police department in 1963.

Washington Theater (later the Penn Theater)-

This theater was near Paradise Candies on Chestnut St. My grandparents were Howard W. "Wib" McGary and Ruth E. Lane McGary.] Grandpap used to like to watch western movies at the Washington Theater. Grandma would get mad because he would count the shots fired and then loudly say "they fired too many shots" because the 6-shooter in the movie had been fired 26 times in one scene without re-loading.

State Theater - Supposedly across the alley from Penny's was the State Theater. I don't remember it.

"The theater on West Chestnut, was the Court Theater -

The Washington Theater was across the street from the State Theater. State on left facing north, Washington on the right. They were several doors down from the alley that ran beside Murphy's and Penney's." - from E-mail received from "Janice" on Dec. 6, 2011

The Fountain -

In the 1970s a little more than half-way down the block between Main and Chestnut Sts., they tore down one or two storefronts (was this where the State Theater was?). In that location, they built a red-brick patio area, accessible by a couple steps up from the sidewalk. On each side of the stairs were raised flower beds (about waist high I think) that lined the sidewalk and formed the outer wall of the patio area. Right in the center of the patio was a fountain which actually was used only a few times. Something must have been wrong with the plumbing (or maybe to conserve water). When the water had run, children especially liked running in the spray, which actually stretched across all sides of the fountain, getting everyone wet who tried to walk to the rear parking lot behind the patio (and to the rear of the parking garage on Chestnut Street).

A couple benches were located to the front and on each side of the red brick patio. Secretaries and workers from uptown law offices, the courthouse and other businesses would come to sit and enjoy the sunshine while eating their lunch. Some sat on the low wall around the dry fountain.

Everyone hated the rear parking lot, mostly for the fact that everyone had to keep returning to feed the meter quarters, about every 2 hours through the day, or sooner.

Shorty's Hot Dog Shop -

Shorty's.....yum.... Just saying the name makes most people crave one of their hot-dogs. I transferred to Immaculate Conception High School at the beginning of Tenth Grade after my parents died. I'd walk up Chestnut Street during Study Hall and after school, just passing the time until I had to catch a bus or meet my ride. Actually, I think the smell of wieners and chili hotdogs drew me up the left side of the street, ever closer to the shop! From the corner of Franklin and Chestnut, you could smell the onions... or the sauerkraut ... yum, yum! Then, you'd get up to their window and could see the hot dogs turning, cooking. Often, customers were trying to get in the door but the shop was already packed with the lunchtime crowd from offices uptown.

Shorty's has a wonderful old storefront with a single window. Inside, you'd walk across old linoleum covered flooring. The counter area on the right had stools. There, customers had a ringside seat to them putting all the fixings on the hotdogs, slapped inside soft buns. Everyone moved at an extra-fast pace -- they had to in order to serve their large number of customers!

A 2005 newspaper article in the Observer-Reporter said that the major developer of uptown Washington was wanting to buy out that section of Chestnut Street. Shorty's may have to vacate their landmark location to make way for the so-called progress of development, office suites and more parking. Remembering my high school days when Millcraft Center at 90 West Chestnut was built after they demolished the old buildings there (corner of Chestnut and Franklin Sts.), the idea of losing more of the old buildings doesn't sit well with me. But, the old buildings show their age, so who am I to judge? I just hate to lose more Washington history and landmarks like Shorty's.

Note: Shorty's had a second location at the Mall, but that has been closed a long, long time.

A great book was written by Raymond E. Knestrick, a former newspaper columnist who was about 2 decades older than my grandmother. Old Buildings on Main Street gives an historical overview of the owners and businesses in many buildings and sites of previous buildings located in the uptown area - from Chestnut to Maiden Sts. and from Jefferson Street up to Main Street and down to College (focus is mostly Main Street, with side trips here and there).

April 29, 2008


I was just reading about uptown Worshington, Pa. I do not know if you are aware but the Shortys on Beau street is still there. I don't know the specifics, but I do know that it will not be torn down. One thing you forgot to mention was the way they used to line hot dogs up the arm when they were being dressed. I honestly believe this is what gave them such distinct flavor. The Greek candy guy that was on the corner of Spruce and Beau the family is selling out of a small store on Donnan Ave.

Hope this helps
Mark L. Moyer
ICHS class of 1987

Thank you, Mark! I'd heard the developers met with much resistance about tearing down Shorty's. I'm glad that the citizens' stomachs won that fight. Yummm! I hadn't remembered that Shorty's lined up hotdogs up the arm...I bet by now, they have to wear gloves, and probably the arm trick has been outlawed by the powers that be. Such for "progress," huh.

YMCA on Chestnut St-

submitted by Bruce W. McCullough - I ran across your site and enjoyed reading your memories of WashPa. I think we must be about the same age--I was graduated from Trinity in 1976. I live in Philadelphia now but get back home a few times each year to visit family.

On the south side of Chestnut St., a little east of N. Franklin St., was the old YMCA, where I spent my youth in the early 1970s. (From the look of the place at the time, I guess you would have to go back at least a couple decades to find anything different).

At street level there was just the door to the Y and you immediately went up a flight of stairs to the main level. If you turned to your right at the top of the stairs there was a kitchen on the west, a coke machine in the main area, and the Reading Room along the front (north) of the building. Turning left at the top of the entrance stairs took you past a mission-style couch and a phone booth in the main area. Facing the entrance stairs on the left side of the main level was the front desk/office area. To the left as you were at the desk was the door to the large game room with pool tables and a juke box. Above the main level were two floors of residence rooms that all YMCAs used to have. I think these were single room occupancy--just a bedroom.

The Y was built on several levels. Going straight back through the main level from the entrance stairs you passed the TV room on your right and then started down the stairs. On the first level down was the entrance to the spectators' balcony above the basketball court (there was no room for seats on the court level). The second level down the stairs was the entrance to the basketball court. The lockers were on the bottom level in the wide hallway (this was an all-male Y). The swimming pool also was on this level, which was presided over by Bud Long in the "cage." The pool was in a room to the right as you faced south (the back of the building) and the open showers were in the same room as the pool. I think the weight room also was on the bottom level. The back door led to a large parking lot that ran south along N. Franklin St.--probably city-owned because it had parking meters.

A postcard picturing the old YMCA (the Paradise store was in the left storefront and the adjacent Court Theatre is shown) is at

I remember the storefront on the right being empty in the early 1970s until it was used as the fundraising office for the new YMCA. The new Y was opened in 1974 at the corner of N. Franklin and W. Beau Streets. It closed in the late 1990s and was torn down in the early 2000s.

Other early 20th Century Washington postcards are at

Thanks to Mr. McCullough for the great description of the old YMCA !

Washington Hospital - Only old postcards or photos can do justice to the old edifice of the Washington Hospital at its current location on Wilson Ave. The hospital has had so many additions and changes that the front of the building can no longer be seen from the road. Gone from view are the balconies attached to the front rooms on higher floors. And of course, even though they are still there, the balconies are no longer used.

Let's start with the "stately" although short drive-way. Brick columns sit on both sides of the drive. At one time, a small guard house was sat near the right column. Cars stopped to speak to the guard, before moving into the drive and immediately going up a slope. The short (100 foot?) driveway in the 1950s had parking on both sides of its sloping surface, so that passengers had to crawl "upwards" to get out the passenger door when the car was parked on the left side, or the driver had to battle to keep the car door open while getting out of the car if parked in the right spaces. I can remember my grandfather driving us to the hospital (probably to pick up mom from a visit) and how we struggled to keep the door open on our side, blocking it with a foot if no one was

Unfortunately, my father was often ill between 1948 and 1970 when he died, so we spent quite a lot of time at the hospital. In those early days, children under age 12 were not permitted to visit patients. So my father would come out on the balcony outside his room to "visit" us kids. We'd gather in the parking lot under his window, waiting for the few minutes he'd spend. Then a relative would take us to their house while mom went in to visit dad for a few hours. She'd wear her grey suit with a small hat on her head, looking like she was going to church rather than a hospital. At the time, women "dressed up" when in public, compete with stockings that attached to girdles, a stylish hat on neatly curled hair and white short gloves, and of course, a small black shiny pocketbook of patent leather.

Above the main entrance, a half-circle type roof extended out from the building.

Inside the main door of the hospital, the foyer was wide and almost as long. This area doubled as a waiting room also, but children could not be left here. A front desk was manned 24 hours a day, where you had to stop to get a visitor's pass. Going down the long hallway, you'd come to the old elevators and stairs that took you up to the rooms. There were wards (more than 4 patients in the same room) and 4-bed rooms, 2-bed rooms (semi-private) and 1-bed rooms (private rooms). The hospital smelled of disinfectant and alcohol and all sorts of "medicine-y" type smells, even in the front foyer.

By the time my dad was dying in 1970, hospital rules were more lax and we were allowed to visit him, even my 3-year old little sister.

more to come....



The Washington Hospital School of Nursing (with picture) - Est. 1897: The picture shown in the website link is the Main (front) door of the School, a door I entered the first time in 1980 for an entrance interview. Inside the door is a very small (4-foot square?) foyer. The front desk is inside on the left, where the House Mother doubled as telephone receptionist. Between 1981-83, the school still had a dorm section for students who were not local. Being a native of Washington, I never saw the dorm rooms. After our class graduated, they eliminated the residence for out-of-town students (I guess they have to find apartments now.)

The graduating class of 1983 (my class) was the last completely Diploma Program offered at WHSN to become a Registered Nurse. The next year, students were required to take classes at California State University (California PA) as part of the WHSN program. Our class completed 2175 hours and completed 90 weeks of practice; now they require 1085 clinical hours plus 34 college credits through Waynesburg College. Over 4000 students have graduated from WHSN.

more to come....



Trolley Museum -

The old trolleys housed at the museum, located in Arden (Chartiers Twp.), have been carefully restored and preserved. Opened 50 years ago and currently showing 45 trolleys, the Museum is one of Washington County's best site of history.




([email protected] - and put Washington in the subject line)


Learn about Washington Co. towns, boroughs and areas in the Town-Talk pages.

For pictures of some places, go to

Washington PA Nostalgia 

A few current street scenes are at the City Hall website.


Street Map of 1 South Main Street 
and surrounding streets uptown

The City Hall website states:

"His original plot bears the name "Bassett, alias Dandridge Town," but before the plot was recorded, lines were drawn through "Bassett, alias Dandridge Town" with ink, and the word "Washington" was written above."


"The town was incorporated as a borough on February 13, 1810, and became a city of the third class in 1924."


Long Ago Locations: (please send me your additions to this list)

The old-old post office on Maiden Street.has been City Hall for decades.

The "new" (many decades-old) Post Office was the site of __________.

Millcraft Center built in the mid 1970s was the site of a small diner owned by Pete Paradise (a Greek Confectioner who homemade candies and strong coffee) and other business store-fronts including a furniture store.

The Cort Theater was down near Pete's in the 1950s.

The Basel changed to Uptown Theater -- now a live band-entertainment site.
The State Theater was on the same side as Murphy's

The present site of Hummell Funeral Home used to be Minnimyer's (spelling?), then the B. F. Goodrich tire sales and repair garage -- the building sat empty until the Funeral Home built there.



Regional area Map of Washington County (west section)

Regional area Map of Washington County (east section)

See Cemeteries at Washington County PAGenWeb

Washington PA Uptown Landmarks -1 - Personal Perspectives

Uptown Landmarks -2

Washington Hospital and School of Nursing - Personal Perspectives

Look here for your families!

Washington Co., PA Area newspapers

McDonald PA Area Newspapers



Keystone Town Markers

List of Historical Societies in Washington County PA

Return to Index of Washington County PA Towns




This page was last updated on Saturday, December 05, 2015 01:51

Judith Ann Florian
Girard, Ohio 44420

Copyright Notice - Data / info. for individuals and surnames may be reproduced for personal family histories only, but not for any commercial use or sale. Please give credit to Judith Florian and Catherine L. Caldwell for newspaper items and original documents. You may use J. Florian's research conclusions if credit is given. No other data or images may be reproduced without permission. © 2005 to present, Judith Florian, Copyright All rights reserved.

Backgrounds by Marie. The background was chosen specifically to emphasize the matriarchal role of women in "the life" of children and families, and the resilience of all the women of southwestern Pennsylvania.