Laurel Mountain Borough
On the twenty-eighth day of July 1769 Thomas and Richard Penn, true and absolute proprietors of Pennsylvania, bought the land upon which the Borough of Laurel Mountain is now situated for the sum of 10,000 dollars. It was purchased from the Native American Six Nations Tribe otherwise known as the Iroquois Confederacy. The purchase also included the rest of South-Western Pennsylvania.
The land remained in its natural state until, in 1815, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania issued a Patent to Alexander Johnson which conveyed ownership of 724 acres of land that included the future Laurel Mountain Borough land. The property was to the East of the 1797 small village of East Liberty which would later be renamed Laughlintown.
On May 27, 1843, Joseph Naugle purchased and settled on 283 acres of this land which would remain in the Naugle family for three generations. In 1926 Joseph’s grandson, Nevin Naugle, sold part of this property which he described as The Brush Farm and the site of his sawmill to the L. W. Darr and Company for 6,200 dollars. The L. W. Darr and Company would create a plan of lots and build a concrete swimming pool plus a clay tennis court. The Darr Company would sell lots from this Plan through 1931 when the remaining lots would be conveyed to the Ligonier Valley Realty Company. The L. W. Darr Plan was the property that would eventually become Laurel Mountain Borough.
Homes were originally built as summer vacation cottages for Pittsburgh business and professional people. The features of many of the homes included cathedral ceilings, balconies and stone fireplaces. Most families spent the Summer here with employed people coming out on the weekends. It was a seasonal community which closed down in the Fall and did not reopen until Spring. To keep the recreational facilities operating, Laurel Mountain Park, Inc. was chartered September 1, 1944 as a non-profit corporation of landowners. On September 11, 1946, the Laurel Mountain Park Association was able to obtain the common grounds including the pool and the tennis courts from the Ligonier Valley Realty Company. In the early 1950’s they built the current Shelter House which soon became the center of the community life hosting bridge, bingo and covered dish dinners sponsored by an active women’s group.
In July of 1978, due to the inability to raise the funds necessary to conduct road and water line maintenance service, the Laurel Mountain Park Association petitioned the Westmoreland Court of Common Pleas to be incorporated as a borough. On December 21, 1979, following hearings on the matter, Judge Charles H. Loughran issued a decree ordering that the prayer of the petitioners is hereby granted and that the corporate name of the Borough shall be The Borough of Laurel Mountain. Ligonier Township objected to the decision and litigation followed that would not be resolved until January of 1982.
The First Borough Council organized in January of 1982 and consisted of Robert Woodall, James Foster, Daneen Kinsey, Joseph Griffith and Joseph Yermal. The first elected Mayor was William Leipold and the first elected Tax Collector was Percy R. Sheetz. Shortly after, the Laurel Mountain Park Association turned over ownership of the streets and the water lines to the new Borough but retained ownership of the pool, tennis court and surrounding property. Following this the Park Association applied for exemption from property tax as they were a public park and was granted the same by the Westmoreland County Board of Assessment Appeals. The tennis court has since been turned into a country garden designed and constructed by Harold Kinsey. The pool and the shelter house are still in use and maintained by the Park Association.
The Borough of less than 100 houses is now a year-round community with a mixture of permanent residents, part time residents and a few rental properties. It still maintains its country charm with gravel roads, 200-year-old trees, an assortment of wild flowers and wildlife and friendly people.
Gladys and Phil Light 2020
Thank you to our sponsors:
Mark L. Sorice, Esq.
Stewart, McArdle, Sorice, Whalen, Farrell, Finoli & Cavanaugh, LLC