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Sewickley to mark its 150th year

There is more to Sewickley’s history than the image of a haven for wealthy industrialists.

“Sure, there have been industrial magnates living in Sewickley, … but there was a thriving community in businesses before the magnates moved into town,” said Maria Swanson, a resident helping to organize events marking the community’s 150th anniversary next weekend.

The festivities start at 7 p.m. Friday with an opening ceremony and a street dance.

Many residents are making costumes for an historical costume contest at 10 a.m. Saturday. Other events during the three-day celebration include parades, music, fireworks, hayrides and pie contests.

There will be live music — everything from jazz to reggae — throughout the weekend.

During the Civil War, the Sewickley area had several stops on the Underground Railroad. By the end of the century the borough had a small but thriving black community, whose history is documented in a photography exhibit sponsored by the Daniel B. Matthews Historical Society at the St. Matthews AME Zion Church, at the corner of Thorn and Walnut streets.

The photography exhibit is part of a tour that starts at 1 p.m. Sunday at the Sweetwater Center for the Arts at Broad and Bank streets. The tour includes visits to several exhibits and open houses around Sewickley, including one of antique cars.

A Civil War re-enactment is scheduled at the historic Sewickley Cemetery at 1 p.m. Sunday.

Like many communities near Pittsburgh, Sewickley was part of the Depreciation Lands — a scheme under which Revolutionary War soldiers were compensated with land rather than cash. By the time it was incorporated in 1853, Sewickley was a thriving river community of about 500 residents. A railroad ran the 13 miles to Pittsburgh.

The weekend’s events, which will cost $52,000, will be paid for by a fund-raising campaign, said Judy Jones, co-organizer of the event with Peggy Standish. For more information, call (412) 741-4015.


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