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Cairnbrook Historic District


Miners' Homes on 5th Street, Cairnbrook, Shade Township, Somerset County, PA, National Register

Photo: Miners' Homes on 5th Street, Cairnbrook, Shade Township, Somerset County, PA. The Historic District was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1994. Photographed by Jet Lowe, 1992, Historic American Engineering Record [HAER PA-56], memory.loc.gov, accessed May, 2016.

The Cairnbrook Historic District was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1994. Portions of the content of this web page were adapted from a copy of the original nomination document. [†] Adaptation copyright © 2015, The Gombach Group.

Description

The Cairnbrook Historic District consists of both an extractive coal facility and a company mining community designed by S.E. Dickey & Company, Civil and Mining Engineers of Johnstown for the Loyal Hanna Coal and Coke Company of Philadelphia on farm land acquired in Somerset County between 1912 and 1920 from Jacob McGregor, a local farmer. The district is located in central Shade Township, approximately one mile northwest of Central City, and is accessible at the intersection of State Route 1016 (McGregor Avenue) and State Route 160. The unincorporated village is located about four miles north of Reels Corners on State Route 30 and 19 miles south of Johnstown. The district is bounded on the east by the Penn Central Railroad, Dark Shade Creek and State Route 160, by McGregor Avenue in the south, Windber Avenue in the west and by Mine Avenue and Loyal Hanna Mine Number 6 in the north.

The coal company constructed about 200 houses, a variety of commercial and social buildings and a modern drift entry mine with accompanying extractive buildings and structures northeast of the village between 1912 and 1920. The community is carved out of farmland that is set on predominantly flat ground, with slight rise at the north end of the village. The historic district, occupying roughly 50 acres, still retains its rural and isolated feeling. There are 181 resources including 140 contributing resources and 41 noncontributing resources. These resources include utilitarian industrial buildings and structures, six types of vernacular residential dwellings and a few buildings of the Prairie School of architecture.

Loyal Hanna Mine Number 6, located less than one-quarter of a mile northeast of the mining village, was constructed west of the Pennsylvania Railroad Shade Creek Extension of the South Fork Branch between 1912 and 1914. The mine, which formally opened in 1914, was a model mining facility with all the latest machinery and equipment. Coal was extracted from the 50 inch thick Lower Kittanning seam using the room and pillar method beginning in January 1914. Run-of-the-mine coal was transported from the drift entry by a conveyor belt to the wood tipple located near the railroad. Coal was shipped from the mine to South Fork, Cambria County, where the company operated a preparation plant that cleaned, washed and mixed Cairnbrook coal with other types of coal that was subsequently sold as steam coal to eastern markets. Supplies were transported to the facility and village on this railroad. The extractive facility operated continuously between 1914 and 1958 when it closed because of coal exhaustion.

The original extractive facility consisted of 14 resources including the two drift entries although today only eight of these resources are still extant. The motor barn (41' x 172'), the supply house (28' x 41') and the electric substation (30' x 60') are all constructed of tan and grey fieldstone with brick lintels and curved arch sills, and brick corbelling at the eaves. These mine buildings all have flat, four inch thick concrete tile roofs. The car repair barn (37' x 43') and the small oil house are both constructed of hollow tile. The mule barn is a two-and-half story brick structure with a gable and flat roof covered with tar paper. The motor sand house is a small one-story brick building with a wood shed roof. The eighth structure at the extractive facility is the village's water filtration and treatment plant. The plant had the capacity to pump 300 gallons of water per minute beginning in 1914 from an artesian well located 400 feet below the structure. The tan and grey fieldstone structure, with a flat tile concrete tile, was constructed in 1914 by the coal company to supply water to the mine and the village. The structure was recently covered with steel siding by the Cairnbrook Water Company.

The Cairnbrook extractive facility is one of the most nearly intact extractive industrial coal facilities found in Somerset County or throughout southwestern Pennsylvania. The site remains extant and in good condition because the resources were not abandoned for a long period of time; instead the site was immediately converted and used for storage by a lumber company. The Casserly Lumber Company of Cairnbrook purchased the extractive facility and approximately 10 acres of land in 1963 from the Loyal Hanna Coal and Coke Company, located at Jenkintown, Pennsylvania. The lumber company razed several resources including the wood tipple, foreman office and first aid building, located between the lime and cement house and the sand house, and the dynamite shanties. Casserly constructed three buildings across the road from the original mining resources, including the dry kiln, band resaw and wood process buildings. All these buildings are noncontributing resources because they were constructed after the period of significance.

Associated with the mine was the coal mining community of Cairnbrook built in 1912. The village is located less than a quarter of a mile southwest of the mine on a flat plain. The community was financed, built, and operated by the Loyal Hanna Coal and Coke Company to attract miners and their families. The rural quality of the region and the absence of towns and infrastructure made it essential for the company to provide housing and other necessary appurtenances such as water, a retail store, a school, a church and a social center. The village was laid out in a grid pattern with a distinctive commercial region with segregated housing between company officials and workers and their families. The company constructed six varieties of workers' and managers' houses, a company office, a company store and a school, and all these resources are still extant. A building, located at 14 Mine Avenue, was built in 1912 to serve as the company's temporary store, office and post office until the construction of these buildings on McGregor Avenue. This two-story aluminum sided building has since been converted into a single family dwelling.

Most of the 200 houses including workers' and company officials' houses, were constructed on First Street, Second Street, Third Street, Fourth Street, Fifth Street and Sixth Streets. The streets were all paved and tree-lined streets and intersected at McGregor Avenue in the southern part of the village and at John Street in the northern part of the village. Six miners' houses, including the original company store and office, were also constructed on Mine Avenue, located at the end of First Street in the northern end of the district.

A majority of the extant residential company-owned houses were constructed between 1912 and 1920. This housing inventory represents three types of managers' housing and three types of workers' housing. All these types of housing are still represented within the historic district. The village was designed as a segregated community with company officials and their families residing apart from workers and their families. First Street was known as "bosses' rows" or "silk row" by Cairnbrook miners because all the houses were exclusively built for company officials including the superintendent, tipple foreman, fire boss, company store manager and indoor and outdoor mine foremen. Nine former managers' houses are located on both sides of First Street between McGregor Avenue and Park Street. An additional four houses for company officials were constructed on Second Street in 1914. Car garages for managers were constructed on both side of First Street below Park Avenue. The garages were razed and on this property are three noncontributing mobile home trailers on the southwest side of First Street.

One form of managers' housing located on First Street is represented by five two-story singles located on southwest side of First Street. These frame houses, located at 12, 14, 16, 18 and 20 First Street, were larger than miners' houses, measuring 22' x 26' and included six rooms. There were a living room, a dining room and a kitchen on the first floor and three bedrooms and a small bathroom on the second floor. Each house was constructed on a stone foundation and had a full attic and a full basement that stored a furnace. Each dwelling had a front open wood porch measuring 20' wide and 6' deep and a small rear porch measuring 10' wide and 6' deep. All the houses had front gable shingle roofs.

There were two front windows on the second floor and a single window in the center of the house above these windows. These two-story front-facing gable houses were altered in the late 1930s when the coal company added asphalt fish-scale shingles. Of the remaining five houses only the house at 18 First Street retains the 1930s asphalt-shingle siding. The exteriors of the remaining houses were re-sided with vinyl or aluminum since the houses were acquired after 1952 by private owners. The new owners have made some alteration to the houses by enlarging the porches and adding a few small rooms in the rear of the houses.

A second type of managers' housing is located on the northeast side of First Street. There are three picturesque single-family houses distinguished by their shed-roofed dormer and projecting integral porch roof supported by triangular brackets and a brick pier. Each house measured 19' x 28' and included six rooms. There were a kitchen and a living room/dining room combination on the first floor, and two bedrooms and a bathroom on the second floor. Each house was constructed with a full basement. The two-story frame houses were covered with asphalt shingles in a fish-scale pattern during the 1930s. Two of the three buildings retain the asphalt shingle while the building at 19 First Street was resided with aluminum by the new owner.

The third type of managers' housing was constructed on the east side of Second Street in 1914. Four two-story poured-concrete management houses were constructed at 9, 11, 13 and 17 Second Avenue that contrast sharply with the other types of housing in Cairnbrook. The distinctive two-story single family houses were constructed of poured concrete from forms with small front porches. Each house measured 25 'x 25' and was constructed with a 13' long and 7' deep concrete front porch. The outside concrete walls are painted by the current owners in a variety of pastel shades of green, pink and yellow. The houses were originally constructed with a flat 16 inch thick concrete roof with attached concrete downspouts. The new owners have replaced the flat roofs with low-pitched hip roofs. Each dwelling now has six rooms including a living room, dining room and kitchen in the rear on the first floor with three bedrooms and a small washroom on the second floor. Each house has a partial basement for a furnace and a brick central chimney. Two smaller poured-concrete dwellings were constructed at 20 and 22 Second Street on the opposite side of the street by the same builder. These two dwellings were unfinished when the builder went bankrupt. These unfinished four-room houses were rented to miners by the coal company. The concrete houses have been painted by the new owners, and all have new roofs but no other alterations have been undertaken on the original facades of these houses.

The mine superintendent's house was located at 10 First Street, next door to the main company office, facing McGregor Avenue. The first house was demolished in the 1920s and on this site the present house was constructed in 1928. The two-story brick-cased house served as the home of the mine's superintendent and his family until the company's second mine superintendent (H. Dewey Schminsky) purchased the house from the coal company in 1940. This house is a single family two-story seven-room, red brick building with Prairie Style architectural features. The house measures 30' x 36' with four porches located on all four sides of the house, substantially increasing its floor space. The open front porch measures 3' x 8'. The rear open porch is 5' x 7', and the two enclosed porches on both sides of the house measure 10' x 13' and 10' x 17'. The house has a hip asphalt roof with a number of dormer rooms. The company officials' houses constructed on First Street and Second Street between 1912 and 1914 are remarkably well preserved today and exhibit high integrity. Some owners have replaced the shingle siding, enlarged or replaced the porches and added a few small rooms in the rear of the house; but these alterations have not fundamentally altered the original integrity of these houses.

The remainder of the housing in the historic district is defined by three types of vernacular style workers' housing constructed between 1912 and 1920. Workers' leased three types of houses from the coal company, including two-story single four-room houses, two-story ten-room semi-detached houses and two-family single-floor bungalows. The first and most popular type of workers' construction was the two-story frame front-facing gable roof. There are approximately 100 such dwellings located on all streets in the district except First Street, Mine Avenue, McGregor Avenue and Windber Avenue. This is the sole type of miners' housing constructed on Second Street, Fourth Street and Fifth Street. These houses are also located on Third Street and Sixth Street mixed with the frame two-story semi-detached houses. Each house measured 17' x 28' and was constructed on a large 50' x-140' lot with a twenty foot alley running in the rear of the houses. Each single family frame house had a front-gabled shingle roof with four rooms including a living room/dining room combination measuring 13' x 15' and a kitchen measuring 11' x 13' on the first floor. There are two bedrooms on the second floor. The bedroom above the kitchen measured 11' x 13' while the second larger bedroom located above the living/dining room measured 13' x 15'. The interior walls of these houses were rough plaster with pine floors. The houses had no basements and were constructed either on stone foundations measuring two feet thick or on cement foundations measuring 10 inches thick.

The exterior of the houses was originally constructed of tongue and grove three-quarter inch pine that was painted in a variety of colors by the coal company. All the frame houses in Cairnbrook were covered by rust, green or blue asphalt shingles in a fish-scale pattern beginning in late 1936 by the coal company. Miners rented this most popular type of all workers' housing for $10.74 per month including water and electricity in the 1940s. The frame two-story semi-detached dwelling was the second most popular type of workers' housing in Cairnbrook and includes 17 surviving dwellings. There are eleven houses located on both sides of Third Street and six houses on the southwest side of Sixth Street. These dwellings were constructed on 2 lots, each measuring 65' x 140'. These houses have four bays, gabled roofs with wood porches and fieldstone foundations. The windows were originally 3/1 double-hung. Each half had five rooms, three downstairs and two upstairs. There were a kitchen, a living room and a dining room on the first floor with two bedrooms on the second floor.

The company constructed seven small one-story two-family semi-detached dwellings on Mine Street bordered by First Street and Second Street in the northern part of the district. These were the first miners' houses constructed in the village and were hurriedly constructed to provide immediate housing in 1912. Each house measured 48' x 24' or 24 'x 24' per side and were constructed on a stone foundation. Each side of the house has four rooms—kitchen, living room and two bedrooms and contained 624 square feet of living space, making these the smallest of Cairnbrook's six types of company houses. Each room measured approximately 12' x 12'. The exterior of these one-story double dwellings was constructed of 3/4 inch tongue-and-grove pine with shingles covering the side gable roof. These houses were constructed with open front wood porches measuring 6' x 12'. Like all frame dwellings in Cairnbrook, these duplexes were covered with fish-scale pattern asphalt shingles in the late 1930s by the coal company. All the original houses are still surviving except for one house that burned down. Two of the original dwellings have been converted into single dwellings by the present owners. Half of the two-family dwelling has been converted into a car garage by the current owners. The seventh dwelling, located at 14 Mine Street and Second Street (Lot 39), was constructed by the coal company to serve as the company's temporary office, post office and company store until these buildings were constructed on McGregor Avenue. The building was altered into a two-story aluminum sided single-dwelling.

All three types of workers' houses were equipped with running water for the kitchen sink. The houses had electricity but no indoor plumbing for a toilet or a bath was found in any house. The single and double privy was a wood building located at the rear of the lot near the alley, usually located next to the coal storage shed. The company permitted Cairnbrook miners and their families to keep cows, chickens and pigs and provided them with pasture near the village to graze their cows. Each evening the cows were kept in stables located in the rear of the house with other out-buildings, including the privy and coal storage bin. These frame outbuildings were once common structures in most mining communities but today are rare since most have been razed. An abundance of these outbuildings is located throughout the entire district. The new owners maintain and use them as tool sheds and for storage purposes.

The Cairnbrook Historic District has 181 resources including 41 non-contributing resources. They are classified as such because they fall outside of the period of significance or were original resources that have been so altered over time by the new owners as to lose their historical integrity. There are remarkably few non-contributing resources within the historic district that date after the period of significance. The 15 non-contributing resources include six mobile trailers, three commercial structures constructed by Cassler Lumber Company at the former extractive facility in the 1960s, four new private dwellings, a garage at the intersection of First Street and McGregor Avenue and Cairnbrook's post office building located at the intersection of Second Street and McGregor Avenue. These non-contributing resources are scattered throughout the district and therefore their presence does not intrude on the integrity of the historic district.

The Loyal Hanna Coal and Coke Company started to sell off its company-owned houses beginning in 1952 to their employees in anticipation of the closing Loyal Hanna Mine Number 6. Annual coal production was dwindling since the late 1940s because the 50 inch thick Lower Kittanning seam was becoming exhausted. The mine closed on March 8, 1958 when the seam was exhausted. Single family two-story dwellings were sold for $1,000 each while corner lot houses sold for $1,100 each because the lot was slightly larger. Each side of the semi-detached houses was sold for $1200 because they were larger dwellings. Most of the original housing at Cairnbrook, like that in contemporary mining communities, have been modified in some respects although the integrity of a majority of houses within the district is excellent despite the modifications made to them by the new owners. The coal company, not the new owners, made the first external alteration to the houses when the company added asbestos shingle siding to all the frame houses in the late 1930s. The new owners personalized the houses by adding vinyl or aluminum siding over the asphalt shingle, window treatments, new doors and roofs. Some owners added additions in the rear of the house by extending the size of the small original kitchen and adding a bathroom. These alterations are almost universal in all former mining houses. The kitchens were usually small, and few houses were constructed with inside washrooms. The existing front wooden porches have been enclosed with glass, enlarged or simply removed by the new owners. These changes are not sufficient to classify them as noncontributing buildings because these modifications do not fundamentally change either the size or the feeling of the original house.

An original miner's house is defined as a non-contributing resource when in addition to these identified changes, the physical scale, massing, and fenestration pattern of the house is seriously altered. Five of the six types of housing in Cairnbrook are contributing resources. The company constructed more than one hundred single dwelling four-room two-story frame houses on large 50' x 140' lots. New owners of twenty-six of these houses have made significant modifications to the small 17' x 28' house that have destroyed their historical integrity. Typical alterations on these severely altered houses include a single car garage, a room over the garage and additional rooms in the rear and often on both sides of the houses.

McGregor Avenue (State Route 1016), the southern boundary of the district, bounded by State Route 160 and Windber Avenue, was constructed to serve as the central business district of Cairnbrook. The principal commercial and social buildings constructed by the Loyal Hanna Coal and Coke Company on this avenue included the company store, office, school, amusement and theater building, fire hall and single-room school beginning in 1912. The company store and the corporate office are the only surviving buildings that were constructed during this period. The company office, located at the northwest corner of McGregor Avenue and First Street, is a two-story red brick building with a stone foundation and a flat, tar-paper roof. Its front windows have been filled with smaller windows, and there is a fancy brick tapestry pattern at the cornice level. The building served as the company's office from 1914 to 1958, at which time it was sold by the coal company to a former miner. The first floor was used as a variety store during the 1960s but today is used as a single family residence. The company store is the sole extant building on the southeast side of the avenue. The two-story brick building, measuring 79' x 110' opened in 1914. The store has a slightly arched brick lintel and retains most of its six-over-six-light, double-hung windows. The first floor of the building's facade has been infilled with glass blocks, and at the cornice level is a brick tapestry pattern reflecting the influence of the Prairie School of architectural style. The store provided dry goods, food and mining equipment to miners and their families. The company did not permit the existence of rival retail stores within its boundary although a number of grocery stores were located on private property north of John Street. The company store closed in the early 1950s because it could not compete with local retail stores. More miners owned automobiles and instead of shopping at the more expensive store they traveled to Central City. The vacant store was occupied by Dorlman-Hoffmail, a New York based women's garment company, in 1955. The company, founded by Nathan Dorlman of New York in 1943, made women's lingerie sold throughout the United States. The garment company also operated factories in the abandoned company stores at the former mining communities of Jerome and Boswell, Somerset County. Women pajamas were made exclusively at the Cairnbrook factory. The store retained much of its integrity because the facility was used until its closure in 1990. The plant closed when stiff competition from East Asian textile companies made its products non-competitive.

A number of other buildings are located within the district that were not owned or controlled by the coal company. The Graef Lutheran Church and parsonage, located at the southwest corner of McGregor Avenue and Third Street were constructed in 1917-1918 on four lots donated by the coal company. A cornerstone was laid on October 14, 1917, brick with a stone foundation and an asphalt shingle roof. A two-story brick parsonage was constructed on Second Street next door to the church. The Cairnbrook First National Bank was located at the far end of the town at Windber Avenue and Bank Avenue. Windber Avenue, which rises along the crest of a hill, is the western terminus of the historic district. This two-story brick bank was independently owned and built on private property outside of the company-controlled village. The former bank building is a large two-story, six-bay brick building with extensive decorative brickwork. It has been converted into apartments and has been altered with the addition of new front doors, but the building could easily be restored. Miners and their families used the private bank for their banking needs until the bank closed during the Great Depression of 1929. The company constructed a small single-room frame school on McGregor Street to educate miners' and local children. A larger public school was constructed by Shade Township in the 1920s on lots donated by the coal company. The school was enlarged during the 1930s and served as both an elementary and high school for the township until it closed during the 1950s. The abandoned one-story brick building, with a stone foundation and flat roof, is located on the southwest side of Sixth Street between McGregor Avenue and Park Avenue.

Significance

The coal community of Cairnbrook and Loyal Hanna Mine Number 6 were associated with the Loyal Hanna Coal Company of Philadelphia between 1912 and 1958 and through them with the important bituminous coal industry of Pennsylvania. This medium-size coal company was involved in the coal and coke industry of Pennsylvania from the late 1870s, when the company operated a number of mines and laid out a number of mining towns in the Latrobe area, Westmoreland County and Cambria County.

The development of Cairnbrook began on October 12, 1912, when the company purchased two tracts of land including 267 acres of coal rich land from Jacob McGregor in Shade Township, Somerset County. The McGregor family was a pioneer family in the township dating as far back as the 1820s. The McGregor farmstead was an isolated farm located in a predominately farming and lumbering district. The central part of Shade Township was a popular resort for hunters and fishermen until this purchase.

Coal mining in Shade Township, Somerset County dates back to the first decade of the 19th century, but poor transportation and lack of demand for coal restricted the growth of the local industry. The first recorded drift entry mine was owned and operated by George Lambert in 1820, and it was located on the west side of Little Shade Creek about 1200 feet south of the Central City borough line along State Route 160. The small drift entry mine operated on and off extracting coal from the C prime Kittanning seam until it closed although the church was not completed until 1918. Coal was widely used as home fuel in Shade Township by 1850 and was supplied by local farmers who extracted it from small drift entry mines in the winter when demand was high and farmers were not working in the fields. This type of small mine is known by a variety of names in the industry, including a "country bank" or "father and son mine." Production was modest and seasonal, and coal was sold and consumed locally.

Coal mining remained a small and local industry in Shade Township, because of poor roads and no railroads until the end of the 19th century. Mining began in Somerset County during the last quarter of the 19th century. Coal was used locally by blacksmiths who hauled it themselves to their shops and was used as fuel to heat homes. The Baltimore and Ohio Railroad constructed a branch line through the western part of the township in 1881. The Shade Creek Branch of the Pennsylvania Railroad was constructed parallel to the Dark Shade Creek into Shade Township and traveled north to South Fork, Cambria County, in 1911. The completion of this railroad acted as a powerful catalyst creating a major coal boom within the township. The Loyal Hanna Coal and Coke Company owned the Loyal Hanna Mines No 1 and No. 2 and the Pandora Mine at or near Loyal Hanna village.

These shaft entry mines extracted coal from the seven foot thick Pittsburgh seam. The company operated four mines in western Pennsylvania by 1910—three in the Latrobe area and a fourth mine, Loyal Hanna Number 3, a drift entry mine extracting coal from 42 inch thick Lower Kittanning seam at Onnalinda (near Beaverdale), Cambria County. Company engineers were searching for new rich coal lands because their Westmoreland mines were becoming exhausted. The company closed its Westmoreland County mines during World War II because the seam was exhausted. The Onnalinda site served as the company's field office until it closed in the late 1940s. The mined coal at Cairnbrook was superb steam coal, and with the construction of the railroad the formerly isolated coal region in central Shade Township became economically viable to mine.

Cairnbrook, formed in 1912, was Shade Township's largest mining community but it was only one of a number of new coal mining communities and extractive facilities that developed rapidly in the township between 1911 and 1920. A variety of coal companies was attracted to the region by high quality steam coal and new rail transportation. Reitz #2, located east of Cairnbrook just off State Route 160, was a mining community and mine laid out in 1916 by the Reitz Coal Company from property acquired from the Thomas Mock farm. The Reitz Coal Company was founded by John Lochrie, a former superintendent of Berwind-White's Eureka No. 37, between 1900 and 1905 in the Central City area. Reitz experienced financial difficulties during World War I, and the Reitz Coal Company became a subsidiary of the Berwind-White Coal Mining Company. Berwind-White Coal Company of Philadelphia, the largest mining company in Somerset County, constructed the coal mining communities of Reitz #3 and Reitz #4 southeast of Central City, along Dark Shade Creek. Reitz #3 was laid out in 1916 on the George Manges farm while Reitz #4 opened in 1918-1919 on the site of the Moses Walker farm. Reitz #4 was the second largest village in Shade township. Reitz Mine #7 was opened in 1917 on James Manges's Farm, one-half mile south of Reitz #3. Wilbur (founded in 1912 by the Wilbur Coal Mining Company), Rockingham (founded in 1916 by Gahagen Coal Company) and Gahagen (founded in 1919 by the Gahagen Coal Company) were other mines and mining communities constructed in Shade Township during this explosive period of growth.

Both the mining community and the extractive facility were designed by S.E. Dickey & Company, Civil and Mining Engineers of Johnstown for the Philadelphia-based coal company. The company laid out the miners' village and extractive coal facility and then employed local contractors to construct these resources. Cairnbrook is a typical example of a large, well-planned coal town in western Pennsylvania constructed in the first decade of the 20th century. Cairnbrook contained a variety of company-constructed dwellings, a company store, and office building and an extractive mine facility. The community was laid out in a 45 degree grid pattern including some 200 company-owned houses that formed the bulk of the buildings in the community. The community was constructed close to the drift mine for convenience and economy to minimize transportation time of workers to and from the mine entry. The community was an important component of the coal and coke industry, although not part of the production facility. It was constructed to support the industry by most coal companies to attract workers to the rural sites where the mines were usually located. Cairnbrook represents an example of how a coal company planned and laid out a coal mining community.

The village demonstrates the services and amenities workers and their families obtained from the coal company. Cairnbrook was a conscious attempt by the Loyal Hanna Coal and Coke Company to build a community for its workers and management personnel by providing for their educational, religious, residential, social and commercial needs of their employees. The company constructed six types of workers' and managers' houses, and all these varieties are still evident throughout the district. The former office, company store, school and doctor office are still extant with minimal alteration to the original buildings. These resources are excellent examples of the vernacular architecture that characterized a particular type of coal company housing found in the numerous coal mining communities throughout the four bituminous coal fields of Pennsylvania.

The Loyal Hanna Coal and Coke Company opened Loyal Hanna Mine Number 6, a double drift entry, to extract coal from the 50 inch Lower Kittanning seam between 1914 and 1958. The company opened Loyal Hanna Mine Number 7, located several miles southwest of Cairnbrook, in 1917. Coal was extracted from the 40 inch Upper Kittanning seam. Mine Number 7 miners resided at Cairnbrook because the company did not construct miners' houses at the mine. Mine Number 6 and Mine Number 7 employed 185 workers and produced 110,000 tons of coal in 1920. The peak year of production was 1940, when the mines employing 383 workers produced about 390,000 tons of coal. Run of the mine coal was transported from these two mines to South Fork, Cambria County, on the South Fork branch of the Pennsylvania Railroad. A variety of surface resources was constructed for the extraction and processing of bituminous coal production at these mines. The extractive facility at Cairnbrook is eligible for listing on the National Register under the Criterion A in the area of industry. Coal was cleaned, graded and prepared for transportation to eastern markets from these two mines. Mine Number 7 closed in 1943 while Mine Number 6 ceased production on March 8, 1958. The company closed both mines because of coal exhaustion. The remaining resources were involved in extracting and preparing coal for transportation to market Mine 6 and Mine 7 could have been significant under Criterion D for archaeological remains for information they may yield about technology and machinery used in the industry in the past, about the layout and scale of the facility, and about the daily lives of coal miners who worked at these facilities. Mine. 7 is ineligible under Criterion D because there are no surface or archaeological remains, since the site was strip mined by local coal companies during the 1950s. Most of the original extractive resources are still extant at Mine Number 6, although the razed resources could be deemed eligible under Criterion D for archaeological remains for what they could tell historians about past mining technology.

The surface remains represent the most intact industrial extractive facility found in Somerset County. The Cairnbrook historic district is a significant site because it includes both extractive facilities and community resources. Many former extractive facilities throughout western Pennsylvania have been demolished or the number of surviving resources has been greatly reduced since the conclusion of World War II and the decline of the industry in the Commonwealth. The Cairnbrook resources have maintained their original functions, design and layout. The eight surviving resources located northeast of Cairnbrook constructed by the coal company between 1912 and 1920 include the mule barn, sand house, motor barn, supply house, car repair barn, oil house and electric substation. There was no lamp house at Mine Number 6 because battery charged miners' lamps were never used at this non-gassy mine. Miners continued to use carbide lamps until mining ceased in 1958. The water filtration plant is the eighth structure at Mine Number Six. These resources have survived after their abandonment because the site including the surface resources and ten acres of land were acquired and converted by the Cassler Lumber Company for commercial usage in 1963. The lumber company razed the wood tipple, the mine office and first aid office building, cap/powder structures, and dynamite shanties during the 1960s.

The Cairnbrook Historic District is an excellent example of a well planned and preserved bituminous coal community and extractive facility dating from the first half of the 20th century. Cairnbrook, like most contemporary southwestern Pennsylvania coal towns, has experienced some alteration to its original resources in recent years. The community and the extractive facility have excellent integrity of a feeling, location, setting and association despite the intrusion of some new resources and alteration on some building inventory. These alterations are present, but these changes are minimum and scattered throughout the district and have not fundamentally changed the integrity of the housing, extractive resources and layout of the community. Original resources are still intact and clearly define the district's historic function as a coal producing facility and mining community dating from the first decade of the 20th century. The district's layout captures this Philadelphia-based coal company's intent to construct an efficient and profitable extractive facility and the creation of a planned community for its workers and company officials by transforming this rural parcel of land into a successful and profitable coal mining site.

  1. DiCiccio, Carmen, Cairnbrook Historic District, 1993, nomination document, National Park Service, National Register of Historic Places, Washington, D.C.

Cairnbrook Historic District Map

Street Names
1st Street • 2nd Street • 3rd Street • 4th Street • 5th Street • 6th Street • John Street • McGregor Avenue • Mine Avenue • Park Avenue

**Information is curated from a variety of sources and, while deemed reliable, is not guaranteed.
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