Community Guide: Hampton
Aug 31, 2015 11:34AM ● Published by Hilary Daninhirsch
Gallery: Hampton Township [6 Images] Click any image to expand.
Hampton Township, incorporated in 1861 as a municipal entity, was named after the Honorable Moses Hampton LLD, a judge and member of Congress. The land had been settled about a century earlier following the Revolutionary War, with the Continental Congress awarding depreciation land grants to the war veterans who first settled in the area.
To commemorate this history, Hampton Township established the Depreciation Lands Museum, a unique living history museum that recreates the region as it was several centuries ago. Buildings such as a church, tavern, log cabin, smokehouse and replica of a schoolhouse are open to the public; programming includes old-fashioned ice cream socials, fall lantern tours around Halloween, and the Hydref, the museum’s annual fall festival, complete with re-enactors, crafts, food and children’s activities.
Almost 19,000 folks call Hampton Township home. According to Town Manager Chris Lochner, in the 1990s, Hampton led Allegheny County in new home construction, though growth has stabilized since then. In 2010, Hampton was ranked #2 in Family Circle Magazine’s annual list of top 10 towns for families.
Unlike some other North Hills’ school districts, all of the students who attend Hampton School District live in Hampton, which makes for a tight-knit residential and school community. The school district is small, with average class sizes of about 21 students. “It is extraordinarily well-recognized, ranking third in the county and seventh in the state based on student testing scores,” said Lochner. “It was recently recognized by a national agency for its methodology in teaching math; Hampton kids notoriously score heads and tails above the rest of the county.”
Those who choose to send their children to private schools also have some top-notch choices, from Winchester-Thurston on Middle Road to Aquinas Academy on West Hardies Road.
Things to Do
For outdoorsy folks, Hampton Township is nirvana. Parts of beautiful North Park, the crown jewel of the North Hills, are located in Hampton, including Pie Traynor field and loop and the Olympic-sized North Park Pool.
Parts of Hartwood Acres are also located in Hampton. Hartwood Acres hosts an annual summer concert series, where every Sunday night, local and national bands play on the main stage. It is also home to the Pittsburgh Blues Festival, which brings in world-renowned artists to perform while raising money for the Greater Pittsburgh Food Bank. The park also contains hiking and biking trails as well as an off-leash dog park, and visitors can register to take tours and attend teas at the 16th-century Tudor-designed Hartwood Mansion.
Both the township and the school district maintain a combined 129-acre campus, which includes the high school, the middle school, the municipal building, and Hampton Township Park. “We’ve created a central downtown-type philosophy,” said Lochner, with the township having built facilities around that theme, a facet of Hampton Township that is unique to suburban living.
The park’s grounds are pristine and include competitive level tennis courts, used by the school district. The Hampton Community Pool received an expansion and an update in the early 2000s and there are now several slides, a fountain and a zero entry area, making it suitable for families with children of all ages.
Much of the recreation in Hampton takes place on the grounds of the Hampton Community Center, where a full gymnasium, fitness area, walking and jogging track, lounges for teens, adults and tots, and banquet rooms, make it a favorite destination. It is also the site of the Hampton Community Library, connected to the Allegheny County library system, which has a host of events, including a Cooks ‘n Books program, a cookbook and food discussion group, and children’s programming.
And if you happen to get hungry while out and about, Hampton is home to several unique, upscale eateries, such as Wild Sage, Tuscan Inn and Hartwood Restaurant & Whispers Pub.
The township is known for putting on a dazzling Independence Day celebration on July 3, complete with musical entertainment, free swimming, games, and of course, a fireworks display.
In September, Hartwood Acres is the site of the annual Family House Polo Match, and in the winter, the township hosts a light-up night to kick off the Christmas season, which includes a visit from Santa Claus. Other annual events include a Halloween parade and an Easter egg hunt.
“If you’re looking for a community to live in, where your family can grow, where you can be safe, where quality of service is a priority, this is where you want to live,” said Lochner.
• Sept. 12: 32nd Annual Family House Polo Match
• Oct. 17 & 24: Haunted Hartwood Teas and Tours
• Beginning Nov. 12: Holiday Daytime Mansion Tours
• Nov. 29: Tea with Santa