Museum and Library hours: Wednesday and Saturday 12:00 – 3:00 pm
Alleghney-Kiski Valley Heritage Museum 224 East Seventh Avenue Tarentum, PA 15084 (724) 224-7666
The A-K Valley Heritage Museum is located on the corner of Lock Street and East Seventh Avenue in Tarentum. The limestone Art Deco structure, designed by Pittsburgh architect Press Dowler (1877-1964), was built in 1931 as American Legion Post 85. The building was extensively improved in honor of the WWII veterans in 1946-47. Murals depicting the homefront during the war were painted in the entrance hall. The 20-foot-high main ballroom walls were completely covered with blue cobalt glass mirrors and art glass donated by Pittsburgh Plate Glass Company. Art deco aluminum from Alcoa was used on railings, door handles, and other applications.
Today it houses a resource library and collections of artifacts of local significance. It is operated by the Allegheny-Kiski Valley Historical Society, a local non-profit, volunteer organization.
The entrance hall of the building is adorned with murals painted by an unknown artist in the late 1940’s. The initials “RJR” are the only clue to the artist’s identity.
The murals depict the Allegheny Kiski Valley during WWII with scenes of factory production of aluminum, glass, and steel. Some civil defense scenes, radio broadcasting, and health care complete the artist’s story.
The paint has darkened over the years and is peeling in some areas. Restoration is in the future, but it will be expensive unless expert helpers are willing to undertake a labor of love.
Below are four portions of the murals.
Lowell Thomas broadcasting news of the war effort to the Pittsburgh area and hundreds of miles beyond from radio station KDKA. The Grant Building, shown in his left hand, is where the broadcasting studio was located.
Nurse to help care for the returning wounded servicemen.
Steelworkers relining a hot metal vessel. The insulating brick lining is being loosened with a jack hammer, then shoveled out so the vessel can be relined with new bricks.
Steelworker in protective gear. Open hearth stacks in the background.
THE MAIN BALLROOM
It is named The Hall of Reflections.
The World War One veterans of American Legion Post 85 welcomed the returning WWII veterans to this room of twenty-foot-high reflective cobalt blue glass inscribed with names of historic WWII battles, maps, military insignias, and American Legion emblems. The glass, manufactured in their Ford City Plant, was donated by PPG in honor of their employees who served in the war. The engravings were the work of artist Albert Van Dine, father of the KDKA personality, Wayne.
As a memorial to its employees who served in World War II, Pittsburgh Plate Glass covered the walls with cobalt blue mirrored glass and pillars of etched mirror glass.
Today this room houses a large portion of our historical collection, and also seats up to 125 people for our meetings and programs.
The museum has an interesting collection of artifacts relating to the development of the aluminum industry. New Kensington was the location of the first aluminum production plant. Most of the developments in the aluminum industry began in New Kensington and then spread to the rest of the world.
Tarentum was known for glass making. The area is still home to PPG’s first plant. Over the past 140 years the town has also been home to 2 bottle companies, three pressed glass companies, and two mirror companies. Pictured here are pieces produced by the three pressed glass companies: Challinor & Taylor, Richards & Hartley, and Tarentum Glass.
OLSZEWSKI ART OF MINIATURES
Robert Olszewski has created miniature art for the Goebel Company, the Disney Company, Harmony Ball, and Enesco for more than 40 years.
Saturday, July 27, 2013 – the
Alle-Kiski Valley Museum hosted Robert “Bob” Olszewski’s presentation: the “Art of Miniatures.” Bob, who was born in Natrona Heights, Pennsylvania returned to the area for the 50th Class Reunion of Har-Brack High School where he graduated in 1963.
After graduating from Indiana University at Pennsylvania (IUP) in 1968 Bob moved to California where he taught art at a local middle school. From there his career in one-twelfth scale miniature art began and for the next and nearly 40 years, he has created art for the Goebel Company from 1980 to 1994, and for the Disney Company, Harmony Ball, and Enesco.
The Alle-Kiski Museum is very lucky to have a significant donation of Olszewski’s art on permanent display. It was donated by Ray in 2008 and consists of art B