Heights turns 100

Ben Avon Heights, established as a borough in 1913, is celebrating its 100 years on June 21 and 22 with a weekend full of events and activities with both current and past residents.

The Borough of Ben Avon Heights is situated on a hill above the Ohio River just nine miles from the city of Pittsburgh. The original land belonged to the farms of Samuel Taylor and John Wilson. In 1906, Walter P. Fraser of Ben Avon bought 84 acres on the former Taylor farm and used 40 of the acres to build the Ben Avon Country Club and golf course. He opened up the rest of the property for a residential development, calling the area Ben Avon Heights. The rural site attracted Pittsburghers who wanted summer homes.

The development progressed to the point that residents wanted to incorporate in 1913. The Ben Avon Country Club closed in 1917 and the golf course property was divided into housing lots. In 1920, Shannopin Country Club opened with its clubhouse in the borough and the golf course in Kilbuck Township. It remains the only commercial property in the Heights.

In the early thirties, John I. Thompson purchased a portion of the John Wilson farm in Kilbuck Township adjacent to the Heights, and built some houses there. The current borough boundaries were set in 1936, when the borough annexed the "Thompson Plan." The borough now contains 148 homes, a community park, and the Shannopin club house in its almost two-square-mile area.

Friday's activities include a golf outing and “meet and greet” cocktail party at Shannopin Country Club.
Saturday's events begin with a free walking architectural tour provided by local docents to highlight Ben Avon Heights residential architecture. Following the tour is a picnic and dinner in the park. Picnic activities include a scavenger hunt for kids, games, community open houses, presentation of a time capsule and entertainment by a ventriloquist. The Ben Avon Area Historical Association will be recording current and former residents’ memories at a "Tell us a Story" booth.

"We are thrilled to have more than 300 people attending our centennial celebration, with a mixture of current and past residents," said Arlene Grubbs, chair of the BAH Centennial Committee, which has been working on this event since 2011. "It really says a lot about our community that we have so much excitement and enthusiasm and fond memories of this place we now call home or did sometime in the past." The Centennial Committee includes Michael Weir, Matt Wensel, Julie Kolenda, Nancy Simon, Bill Penrod, Stefanie Keelan, Kim and Rick Cuneo, Colleen Quinn, Al and Arlene Grubbs and Dawn Kaelin Gunning.

More information on the Centennial is available by visiting Ben Avon Heights Centennial - BAH 100 on Facebook or the community Web site at www.benavonheightsborough.com/centennial.

Saturday, June 22 - Schedule of Events
12:45 - Listen for the fire truck as it circles the neighborhood reminding residents to get to the park!

1:00 - Kids games at the park with prizes, face painting, volleyball, wheelbarrow race, water balloon toss and more.

2:00 - Scavenger hunt for kids 8 and older, prizes to the winners

2:00 -4:00 - Some residents have agreed to open their homes to visitors. Look for balloons to indicate which homes are part of this open house.

2:00 - 4:00 - Tell Us a Story - Record memories of Ben Avon Heights with members of the Ben Avon Area Historical Association at 1 Wilson Dr. across the street from the park.

3:00 - Adult wiffle ball game.

5:00 - Social hour -- beer, wine, soft drinks, snacks.

5:45 - Program - borough logo presentation, "Draw Your House" awards, and presentation of time capsule.

6:00 - Picnic dinner.

7:00 - Entertainment -- ventriloquist

8:00 - DJ, dancing and bonfire

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