|Written by Administrator|
|Wednesday, 30 May 2007|
McGinley Farmhouse, c. 1830
2381 McGinley Road
In 1785 Mathew Simpson purchased 200 acres of land from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania which would later become the McGinley farm. Mathew’s son failed to draw up a will, and so upon his death the land reverted back to the Commonwealth to be subsequently deeded to Benjamin Darlington. In 1827, Benjamin Darlington sold the land to Joseph McClintock.
It was probably around 1830 that Joseph McClintock’s son, John, a farmer and a stonemason built the stone farmhouse, sometime referred to as the “mansion house,” from native fieldstone. It was one of John’s daughters, Margaret, who married Isaac McGinley, the family that would give its name to the farmhouse, and live there for the next hundred years.
For a period of time, two families resided in the farmhouse: John McClintock, his wife and four children; and his son-in-law, Isaac McGinley and his wife Margaret, but eventually, the house and farm passed solely to Isaac McGinley; and upon his death to his two sons -- James and Joseph. The McGinleys had nine children, and so early on, a one-story wing was added to one side to get more room. Set up on the higher ground, it required a few stairs to enter this new kitchen from the ”sunken” living room. The kitchen had a larger hearth, that allowed for better indoor cooking and baking.
In 1926 the farm was sold to Joseph Tinsley, but during the depression he defaulted on the mortgage, and ownership of the farm reverted back to Joseph McGinley, who, in turn, was to sell the 87-acre farm to Max Miller, a Pittsburgher in the real estate business.
By the time Mr. Miller had bought the property in 1932, the house had caved in, but the foundation was intact, and the building stones were still on the site. While he had no intention of actually living on the farm he had just bought, his wife Elizabeth Solomon Miller, who had grown up on a farm, wanted very much to spend her summers there.
So a small two-room house was built nearby where the family could spend that first summer, while work proceeded on rebuilding the main house using the original foundation and stones. A modern kitchen was added on as an extension behind the house, and the old kitchen became a dining room. Electrical and telephone service were brought in; a cistern was built on the hill behind the main house, and a well dug in the front yard. Heating was no problem as the property had a 99-year lease with the utility company that supplied natural gas.
In time, Elizabeth (“Betty”) decided she wanted to live there year-round. In order to help her manage the farm Betty Miller called on her family: brothers, David, Julius, and Harry Solomon, and sister, Mary Lenhart, and her foster child, Clara, all whom were at the time living on the Solomon’s farm in Turtle Creek, Pa. She persuaded them to move to Monroeville, and there they lived and helped to work the farm: boarding horses and selling chickens, eggs and milk. Mrs. Miller was able to indulge her love of Peacocks and kept several on the farm, while Harry Solomon kept horses and trained trotters on a track behind the house. The farm continued in operation right through most of the 1960s.
Then in 1967, Westinghouse Electric Corporation bought some 198 acres of property in Monroeville, including the McGinley farm, as the site for their proposed Nuclear Research Facility.
In 1969, at the urging of Councilman, James Mirro, Westinghouse was persuaded to make a gift of the house and its lot to the Municipality of Monroeville. The Municipality then entered into an agreement with the Monroeville Historical Society so that the house could be designated as an “historical center,” and the Society put in charge as caretakers.
As part of the sales agreement with Westinghouse, the last of the Solomon/Miller family, Mrs. Betty Miller was allowed to reside in the house until she had to be moved to a senior care home in 1975.
On July 4, 1976, the House was opened to the public as part of the community’s Bicentennial celebrations.
During the next few years, the historical society took steps to restore the old home. The brick and glass front porch was removed, as was a side porch. The fireplaces, which had been covered when central heating was introduced, were opened up and restored. The modernized (1930s) kitchen at the back was removed, so the dining room was once more restored to its 19th c. status as the kitchen with its oversized hearth.
On November 26, (Thanksgiving Day), 1978, the McGinley house was formally dedicated as a historical landmark by the Pittsburgh History and Landmarks Foundation.
Today, the McGinley House has been restored and furnished as a 19th century farm dwelling. Visitors are welcomed in the summer months, when the House is open to the public on Sunday afternoons from June through August.
|Last Updated ( Monday, 10 September 2007 )|