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Patterson Heights
By Edith Porter
Milestones Vol 22 No 4 Winter 1997

In 1899, a petition signed by 27 residents of Patterson Heights, in the Township of Patterson, asked that the village be incorporated into a borough. At that time, it was the most populated section of the township and the residents preferred to use their tax dollars for their own area rather than distribute them over the entire township. The "heights" area had higher real estate values, since the rest of the township was mostly farm land. The Heights is an area about six blocks square (.3 sq. mi.) situated atop the summit of the hill west of lower Beaver Falls; it is nearly surrounded by Patterson Township.

For accessiblity and communication to and from Beaver Falls and vicinity, a road was surveyed and located around the hill fronting the Beaver Falls-New Brighton bridge. The road was paved with bricks during the early 1900's. It was narrow and twisting, hugging the hill on one side with a sharp drop to the wooded hollow below on the other. It provided a fine view of Beaver Falls and valley towns, but it was closed to traffic in 1973 because of landslides.

An "incline" or electric railway also connected the "heights" and the lower station on Bridge Street. This provided a more direct and faster way to the hilltop. Much of the traffic was due to special events at the exclusive Beaver Valley Country Club. For a time, passengers were met at the upper station by Frank Caler who provided transportation by horse and buggy for the approximate three blocks to the club.

Some of the names prominent in early Patterson Heights days were: Patterson; Reeves; Mannix; Cleis; Middleton; Moore; Breen; Fenchel; Fair; Smith; Coleman; Erath; Klein; Paul; Reich; Myers; Hevely; Townsend; Moreford; Merriman; Galton; Barr; and many others. Rosser Prosser established the first store in Patterson Heights.

A two room brick school was built in 1900. They had rented space from Patterson Township in the two-story building on Darlington Road at 3rd Street for $15 per month until their own school was ready. For some years, there were eight grades in the two rooms. Later, only six grades were taught there. From 1961 to 1970, it was used for K-2. The last year it functioned, the 1969-70 school year, there were 120 children in attendance. For many years the community building was the borough building which provided a meeting place for council, storage of fire equipment and facilities for voting. When the school was closed, the building and surrounding land was conveyed to the borough. It has become the "civic center" of the community. The former borough building is now occupied entirely by the Volunteer Fire Department. The Lawn-fete has been an annual event since 1910 and is a highlight of the summer. Its proceeds have helped support the fire department, along with the able assistance of the Patterson Heights Volunteer Firemens' Auxiliary. Police protection is handled by an arrangement with Patterson Township whereby the borough pays for the services provided by the township.

The Beaver Valley Country Club is the one "institution" to survive the passing of the years. The school and Hillside Avenue have been closed, the incline is gone, and there are no commercial establishments in Patterson Heights. Most of the Country Club's land lies in Patterson Township, but its main building is located in the Heights. The first clubhouse was destroyed by fire in 1916. The property at the top of Hillside Avenue (or Country Club Hill) was then purchased from Lemuel G. Townsend, remodeled and occupied as the present clubhouse. The golf course extends to the Borough of Fallston and to the cliff edge of the Alum Rocks where Indians made signal fires and left artifacts to be discovered by future generations of young explorers.

Patterson Heights has never had a church. The residents preferred their affillations with the various denominations already established in nearby communities.

Of special note is the community's oldest surviving social organization, The Patterson Heights Book Club. Its aim was "the reading and discussion of books". It was organized in 1912 by thirteen charter members. Some of the names appearing here are among the earlier ones mentioned: Walker; Asdale; Babbit; Banks; Galton; Hughes; Hurst; Martsolf; Patterson; Piper; Reeves; Townsend. Most of the names appear to be English or Irish, with just a sprinkling of German names. The book club was exclusively female in its charter membership. One wonders if there are any male members today?

Always primarily a residential community, Patterson Heights has a fairly high percentage of professional people among its citizens. Besides its early Anglo-Saxon and German heritage, the area now reflects a proportion of the immigration seen in Western Pennsylvania in the early 1900's. Patterson Heights has a relatively stable citizenry with little new housing in recent years. Among its present population of approximately 780, we can still find many descendants of the families who lived there in the 1800's.