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Community Guide: New Brighton

Sep 30, 2015 02:34PM ● Published by Jennifer Monahan

Gallery: Community Guide: New Brighton [14 Images] Click any image to expand.

The borough of New Brighton is quaint and iconic, a contemporary example of quintessential small-town America. Boasting a charming downtown streetscape, a number of successful small businesses and an abundance of family-friendly community events, New Brighton evokes a sense of belonging. It’s a community where neighbors know each other’s names and residents take tremendous pride in their hometown. “The most distinctive thing about New Brighton is the sense of history—generations of families live here. It’s part of the small-town charm,” said Borough Manager Larry Morley.

History
Incorporated as a borough in 1838, New Brighton was founded by settlers from England and Western Europe. Located 28 miles northwest of Pittsburgh, the town sits on the east bank of the Beaver River. Its early prosperity was manifested in flourishing lumber, paper and flour mills, along with foundries, carriage works, a brick yard, a glass company and a pottery works.

Inviting Downtown
The borough revamped its downtown streetscape in 2008. “It was a $3 million investment that included street lights, curbs, sidewalks, benches and more than 200 trees,” noted Morely.

New Brighton’s main street, Third Avenue, is home to local gem Hallowed Grounds Coffee Roasterie, where owner Kathy Chabala’s husband roasts the beans daily. Hallowed Grounds offers homemade baked goods to complement a range of hot beverage options and has a wide selection of tea as well as coffee.

Yorketowne Shoppe, a locally owned gift store, is housed in an 1870s-era building which served originally as a general store and then as a hardware store, according to owner Patty Boyde. The wooden cabinets and drawers that once held screws and hammers now contain gift items such as Yankee Candles, home décor, clothing, accessories, jewelry and seasonal flags.

The original Brighton Hot Dog Shoppe has a devoted fan base among residents and visitors alike. The Merrick Art Gallery, which serves as a museum and cultural center for both visual and performing arts, is another point of pride. Rosalind Candy Castle celebrated its 100th anniversary in 2014, and remains a Beaver County favorite.

Four Brothers Brewing opened its doors in September 2015. Brothers Steve and Dave Petrucci have lived most of their lives in New Brighton, and decided to turn their longtime hobby of making microbrew beer into a full-fledged business. “We’re going to try to get creative and have fun with it,” said Steve Petrucci.

The borough’s newest downtown project has locals excited. Fourth-generation resident John Peluso purchased New Brighton’s Masonic Lodge from its original owners in 2014, and the 14,000 square foot structure, built in 1907, anchors the downtown area. Peluso says the project has become a labor of love. “This is a restoration project, not just a renovation,” he explained. He has gone to great lengths to return the building to its former glory, and raves about the gorgeous third-floor hallways, original brick, and beautiful tin ceilings which he and his crew have taken pains to preserve and restore.

Upon completion in January 2016, the building will house the Masonic Lodge on the third floor, five one-bedroom apartments on the second floor, and the new Main Street Market on the first floor. Restaurant proprietor Kathy Weaver will serve food on one side of the building and run her catering business on the other. The building will also become home to Kemp’s Butcher Block, a custom meat market that has been in New Brighton since 1936.

Peluso has received tremendous support for the project. “What’s so great is the encouragement that I’ve gotten from the community,” he said. “People stop by all the time to thank us for restoring the building, and to share stories of how they had their first Coke at the soda shop here.”

Recreation and Community Pride
The riverfront’s playgrounds and parks span the entire length of the town. Handicapped-accessible New Brighton Fishing Park is a prime fishing destination. “It’s a beautiful area,” Morley explained, “and you can be on the river and not realize you’re only three blocks from the heart of town.”

Assistant Borough Secretary Nicole Oliver works with several community organizations, mainly the New Brighton Area Recreation Commission, to put on events such as monthly movie nights, a Christmas in the Park fundraiser, and New Brighton’s annual September car cruise. The town hosts a large Halloween parade with marching bands from six area schools dressed in costume each year, a variety of 5K runs, and a popular triathlon each Memorial Day weekend.

A group called ‘Brighton Up’ tackles community projects such as putting up murals, hosting community clean-up days and renovating parks, according to Jack Manning, a consultant for Town Center Associates, who works with New Brighton’s leaders to create economic development opportunities in the town. Manning noted, “There is a very strong sense of community in New Brighton. The people are passionate about their town.”

New Brighton’s schools and housing prices are a draw for new residents. “There is a range of housing options, including rentals, townhomes, condos, and large Victorian-style homes, and it’s all affordable,” Code Enforcement Officer Tom Albanese explained. Proximity to Pittsburgh, Cranberry, and Robinson make New Brighton’s location desirable.

With about 6,000 people in a 1.1 square mile area, residents enjoy a strong sense of community. “You get to know your neighbors,” explained Morley. “People take care of each other.”

Upcoming Events
  • Oct. 21: Halloween Parade
  • Oct. 24: Halloween 5K and Fun Walk
For more information, visit www.newbrightonpa.org.

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