September 27, 2019
Our Trip To Brownsville
A review of Osher at CMU's trip to Brownsville on Sept. 17, 2019.
By John Spear
On Tuesday September 17, 2019 , 37 adventurous Osher travel participants boarded a luxury bus at 8:30am bound for a day trip 26 miles south east of Pittsburgh to the town of Brownsville. We arrived at the Nemacolin Castle greeted by volunteers who provided breakfast pastries and muffins. Our group was divided in half. One half toured Front Street where many of the houses were 100-200 years old. Some had been restored, a couple were in disrepair but others had been recently purchased and we met the proud owners. One of our group had lived in one of the houses and rang the doorbell and the current owners came out to talk to her.
The tour of the three story castle showed a grand history of a bygone era. It had attained historic plaque recognition but was in need of infrastructure repair like the water lines and had recently had roof repair. Two rooms had recently been painted on the first floor and looked quite nice. Many rooms had original furniture. The local society was attempting to get grant money from various sources. A delicious lunch was provided to the group in the dining room and parlor.
Then we boarded the bus with an 88 year old knowledgeable and enthusiastic docent whose enthusiasm was infectious, for the historic church of St Peter, home of the oldest continuously operating parish in Western Pennsylvania and also listed on the National Register of Historic Places. It was beautiful.
We drove by America’s first cast iron bridge. We stopped at the Monongahela Transportation Museum which was highlighted by a miniature railroad working display which was as clever as I have ever seen. We viewed artifacts from the railroad era.
We stopped at the Melega Art Museum at the historic Flat Iron Building. One of the attendees found her picture in a high school yearbook. That was fun.
The shock of the trip was visiting the former site of Temple Ohave Israel, a historic landmark, which had closed in the 60’s. It had them become a Baptist Church. It then lay vacant till 1999 when a gun store rented it. They are still there selling assault rifles below the plate glass picturesque windows and the Star of David. One of our group whose family had been members of the temple was visibly shaken to view this horrible scene. It’s the reality of today’s world, especially in Fayette County.
We then began the short ride home. It had been a beautiful day, picture perfect, and well deserved thank you to our trip committee. Everyone was impressed with how smooth everything went.