CHARTIERS TOWNSHIP (KDKA) — A former boarding house on West Grant Street and Moninger Avenue in Chartiers Township is in sorry shape.
“If they have to tear down the building is that they preserve what’s under the building,” Pastor Marsha Lewis said. She has very strong feelings.
Sold last month for back taxes, this place belies what Pastor Lewis believes to be its storied past.
“There’s no doubt that it’s the Underground Railroad,” she said. “No doubt!”
Pastor Lewis’s small congregation from the Resurrection Church of God worshiped there until the building was condemned last year. The property’s previous owner took her into the clay and brick tunnels.
“When we’re on this side the trails come out and go up into Canonsburg,” Lewis explained. “But on this side you go out and you come up into Washington, Pa.”
The main part of the building reflects its Federalist origins. A cornerstone is dated 1830, but another part of the marker reads 1934 to 1950, likely referring to the additions.
“This is a part of our history that should not be torn away, thrown away or destroyed,” Lewis said.
Chartiers Township Manager Sam Stockton tells KDKA-TV that they just got the deed to the property this past Tuesday. The building has been secured, but he doesn’t know yet what might happen to it.
“Underground Railroad was not necessarily documented very much at all,” Jim Ross, a member of the Washington County Historical Society, said.
On East Maiden Street, the Le Moyne House is home to the Washington County Historical Society which was the first Underground Railroad Station designated a historical landmark in Pennsylvania.
Ross says that Pastor Lewis’ claims just recently came to their attention.
“We’re still trying to figure out actually who built and owned the property back during the Underground Railroad era,” he said.
They hope to have some answers by next week, but preservation would cost big bucks.