Allegheny City History Highlight: The Woods Run Settlement House
Ethnic and religious diversity have been present in Allegheny City and the Northside for more than a century. The Woods Run Settlement house, located on Petoskey St (earlier Petrol St.) on property now occupied by the former Western Penitentiary, is a great example of this diversity.
Founded in 1895, this community center served the needs of many immigrant families by providing a library, meeting rooms, class rooms, gymnasium, playground, swimming pool, English language classes, sewing classes, gardening, and so much more.
Although founded by many wealthy Protestant families of Allegheny City, the Settlement House served the immigrant families and attempted to preserve and provide dignity to their ethnic and religious identity. When the Russian immigrants needed a place to worship their Orthodox faith, they found a home at the Settlement House. When eastern European Jews need a place for prayers and worship, they found a home at the Settlement House. In one of the early promotional/fundraising pamphlets that was created by the Settlement House staff, it emphasized the fact that more than a dozen languages were spoken in the neighborhood and at its facilities.
Today, it can be hard to imagine the chatter of the children in the playground and their parents talking about the classes they had just participated in with so many languages being spoken throughout the industrial and residential landscape that defined Woods Run, Verner, and Manchester in the early 20th century.