Grant to help Old Economy Village in Ambridge
The residents of Ambridge are proud of their town’s past and have gone to great lengths to preserve it.
Now, thanks to an $8,000 match grant from the Rivers of Steel Heritage Corporation of Homestead to the Ambridge Historic District Economic Development Corp., more people will be able to see all of the hard work they’ve put in.
Tourist-oriented direction signs will be installed along Route 65, alerting passing motorists to the wonders of the borough’s unique, frozen-in-time community.
Old Economy Village, a settlement founded in 1825 by the German Communitarian sect, the Harmony Society, looks like a page out of a history book, with stately brick buildings and quaint wooden homes. Volunteers wearing 19th century costumes while doing 19th century chores add to the whimsy of the place.
In 1971, local council adopted a preservation ordinance that helped maintain the architectural charm of many of the buildings. Antiques shops and other small businesses occupy the old structures, and local officials anticipate that more entrepreneurs will want to open up a shop, cafe, bakery or other cottage-type industry in the unique and historically relevant locale.
Ambridge is on the National Register of Historic Places, was designated as a Preserve America Community by the White House and is part of the Rural Farm and Village History Trail in the Pennsylvania Trails of History System.
In addition to the highway signs, the grant money will be used to create a welcome center kiosk, with maps and literature about the area.
Old Economy Village welcomes approximately 25,000 tourists each year.
Kristy Locklin is a Tribune-Review contributing writer.