I live in a modest bungalow built in 1917 in the small community of Houston, Pa
What was this community like back then and how did it start? Because I am interested in older homes, I decided to check into some local history. If you are not interested in history and just want to view a few of the older homes in this area, scroll to the bottom of the post…
Around 1820, a turnpike was built to connect the National Road (which passed through Washington, Pa.) to Pittsburgh. It was never profitable and towns and townships gradually took it over. That old turnpike route is the main street of our small borough.
In the 1850s, Daniel Houston, who had purchased a large tract of land in this area, encouraged the railroads to connect to Washington, Pa. via Canonsburg, a town farther down, and run past his land.
David Houston, his son and heir, later invested money in the project and as the railroad neared completion many years later in the 1880s, he laid out lots to form a town. The lots were priced from $50.00 to $150.00.
The first homes were followed by a train depot and a store, and David Houston and other farmers began shipping milk into Pittsburgh. By 1887 a school was built. Additional rooms to the school were added a year or so later. They were used for meetings and church services.
Next came a saw mill, and by 1901, the town also had a church, several blacksmiths, a wagon shop, and a shoe shop. By 1902, the train traffic shipping milk into Pittsburgh was so heavy that a second railroad track was needed. In 1903, the horse and buggy mode of transportation were disappearing and train, bus and trolley services took over.
There is a very detailed book called “Houston Then and Now” produced by the Houston Centennial Committee and written by Felicia Browell. I checked this book out of our local library to learn about the borough’s history (it is the source of my greatly reduced information here)
The pictures in this book are small and grainy but one shows a family posing with horse and buggy in front of their home built in 1894.
The community currently is a mix comprised of these large and stately homes built around that time, mostly found on the main street, and the large and small Craftsman style bungalows and catalog homes that came a bit later. I was interested to find that a home a few streets down has been definitely identified as a Sears catalog home. ( below ) You can find more about it here, on Zillow. If you are interested in older Sears homes there are some interesting pictures of the interior on Zillow as well. For more information on Sears catalog homes, visit the Sears site here.
A few more of the architectural styles of the older homes in my neighborhood are below.
I believe that this first one is what is called “Tudor Style”