Professor and Mrs. Joseph
F. Moore, 1950
Education and Recreation both play
an important role in the social development of a community. In Brookline,
development of public school system and the public recreation facilities
was a long and arduous journey. Over the past 100 years, the community has
watched as the education system evolved from a scattering of one-room
schoolhouses into a network of modern schools serving thousands of students.
Brookline has also watched as the community's recreation alternatives have
gone from a few private open lots to a system including two multi-purpose
Regarding education, we will
concentrate on West Liberty School and its offspring Brookline Elementary.
With respect to recreation, we will note the efforts of Professor Moore to
provide a safe place for the children of Brookline to play.
Much of the information here was
reported by Professor Joseph F. Moore, the long-time principal at West
Liberty and Brookline Elementary Schools. Professor Moore served as principal
of the two schools until 1940. He also oversaw Carmalt Elementary for three
years after its opening in 1937. He then took over as Chairman of the Board
of the Brookline Savings and Loan Institution, a position he held until his
death in the 1960s. No one man has done more to advance the interests of the
community than Professor Joseph F. Moore, and generations have benefited from
his stellar efforts.
West Liberty School and
Brookline Elementary School
The oldest school in the Brookline
area, according to Professor Moore, was situated on Pioneer Avenue near Ray
and Holbrook Avenues. Another was located at the corner of Cape May and West
Liberty Avenue (the original West Liberty School). Another was the East Side
School, a frame building on Edgebrook Avenue, and the fourth was a private
school at the south end of the present Liberty Tubes, built by Mr. William
Dilworth, an early coal mining entrepreneur, for the children of the coal
miners he employed. These schools date back into the early 1800s.
As a young man Professor Moore was
named principal of new West Liberty Elementary School in 1900. Situated on Pioneer Avenue
near Capital, this four-room brick veneer school building, erected in
1898 at a cost of $7000, had replaced the old West Liberty School and the
East Side School, which were abandoned. The other two old schoolhouses
followed shortly after.
Mr. D.C. Shaw was the first principal
of the (1898-1899) and he had three teachers under
his supervision. Two of these teachers were Miss Catherine Lang and Mrs.
Palmer, who was an active member of the Beechview community, which like
Brookline was part of West Liberty Borough.
A interesting anecdote on the building
of West Liberty School: despite the modest price of only $7000, it caused
much dissension in a remote section of West Liberty Borough and resulted in
the residents of the Beltzhoover area leaving the borough and forming a
political division of their own, Montooth Borough.
When Professor Moore took over the
principalship of the school there were 135 pupils registered. The school
term was ten months and the teacher salaries ranged from $35 to $40 a month,
As principal, Professor Moore received $60.
West Liberty School, at this time,
had no provision for high school education for its pupils. Shortly after
Professor Moore took over, he induced the school board to make arrangements
for his graduates to attend the Knoxville Union high school for which the
School Board paid a yearly tuition of $50 a year for each pupil.
In November, the residents of Mt.
Lebanon had a house to house canvas to gage public opinion of Professor
Moore's plan. They discovered that the residents were in overwhelmingly in
favor of this, so they called in an attorney to test the legal rights of
this form of secondary public education. The attorney, Jake Pressley,
informed them that there was no precedent in law but advised them to go
ahead with the plans. Mr. Pressley planned to introduce a bill to this
effect into the Legislature at the next session. This is the first bill
regarding Free Education.
Professor Moore deserves credit for
this bill on Free Education. Before he became principal of the West Liberty
School, he had previously been principal in the Mt. Lebanon area. He had
begun his work on the Free Education proposal at that time but left before
his plans were completed. When the residents of Mt. Lebanon learned that
Free Education was being practiced in the West Liberty School, they became
determined to make it a regional practice.
When Mr. Moore's pupils secured Free
Education priviledges in the Knoxville Union high school it became necessary
for Professor Moore to shape his Course of Study accordingly. Many students
of Mt. Lebanon transfered to West Liberty School where they paid a tuition of
$2.50 a month in order to follow the Professor's Course of Study.
Four more rooms were added to the
West Liberty School in 1906. This was necessary since the population in
the Brookline community surged after the street car line was extended on West
Liberty Avenue. Before the Pittsburgh Railways Company was formed, there
was an independent car line which came to West Liberty Avenue via Brownsville
and Warrington Avenues. shortly after the street car
tunnel was constructed
in 1904, service was extended the following year from the Brookline
Junction on West Liberty
through to Edgebrook Avenue.
Children from this district attended
the West Liberty School. Brookline was a plan of lots laid out in 1905. Any
person building a home in Brookline sent their children to the West Liberty
School. The real growth of Brookline began in 1907.
In the fall of 1907 the West Liberty
School had become so crowded that the School Board sought and gained
permission to hold classes in the basement of St.
Mark Lutheran Church on
Bodkin Street, which at that time was considered Brookline Boulevard. The
understanding was that the School Board was to finish the basement of the
church and pay rent for it until they were successful in finding a site for
A site was soon secured. and in 1908
ground was broken for the Brookline School on Woodbourne Avenue. At this
time, the school was centrally located in the Brookline community. The School
Board could have gotten free lots at that time on Edgebrook Avenue but this
location was not central. Most building in that section of Brookline had not
yet begun. Children from this part of Brookline mostly went to Fairhaven
At this time the following school
districts were all under the jurisdiction of Professor Moore: West Liberty,
BonAir, Beechwood, Lee and Brookline.
At the same time the Brookline School
was erected, an exact duplicate of it was erected in Beechview, known as the
Beechwood School, on Rockland Avenue. These structures had corridors that
were fireproof. They cost $25.000 respectively. In 1910, part of Union
township was annexed to Pittsburgh. This was a strip of land off of Saw Mill
Run known as "Seldom Seen". The courts directed their children to the West
The original Brookline School, opened
in 1909, contained four rooms, what are now rooms 101, 215, 217 and the
office suite. These two schools were dedicated on the same day in June, 1909.
Beechwood School was dedicated in the morning. This was followed by a picnic
lunch at Brookline School, with its dedication and a field meet on the
Brookline School field in the afternoon. There was even a "marathon race"
from Brookline School to Beechwood School and return. One runner was
disqualified because he "hitched" a ride part of the way on a
The Brookline area had been annexed
to the City of Pittsburgh in 1908 as the 44th ward, and was then known as a
sub-district instead of West Liberty. The Lee district contracted for a
two room frame school building. This building was finished at a cost of
$30,000 and classes started in September, 1910.
The Brookline community continued to
grow, so in 1911 an addition was built to the Brookline School which cost
$62,000. With this sum of money twelve more class rooms were added, six
finished (rooms 103, 104, 105, 106, 107 and 108) and the others half finished.
An auditorium, which had a level floor was also provided for, and classes in
industrial training, sewing, home economics and manual training were begun.
The six unfinished rooms (rooms 202, 203, 204, 205, 206, and 207) were
completed and ready for classes in 1920.
The School Code of 1911 went into
effect. It took control of the schools away from the forty-five sub districts
and placed them under the Board of Education. For a short time, Professor
Moore was transferred to the Garfield School district. Miss Effie Butts,
one of his assistants at Brookline School, took over the principalship. His
other assistant, W.G. Gans, took over Professor Moore's duties at Lee
School. During this period a modern heating plant was added to the West
Brookline had the first school
garden, planted in 1916,
in which the children took time off their school work to work in the gardens.
The produce provided fresh vegetables for the school lunchrooms, and the
surplus was sold at the local markets. Brookline School raised about $300 worth
of produce a year. The idea soon spread and gardens were begun at West Liberty
School. The students at the West Liberty School raised about $500 worth. The
practice continued well into the 1950s.
On April 24th, 1919, Professor Moore
was transferred back to Brookline where he was again named Principal of
the West Liberty and Brookline Schools.
When the school district was admitted
to the City, Brookline students were first sent to South High School. In
the meantime, construction of South Hills High School had begun in the
Beechview area. The new high school was soon completed and Brookline students
were sent there.
The school district continued to grow.
The opening of the Liberty Tubes fed this extraordinary growth. Shortly after
their erection, the schools became so crowded that classes were held part
time. In 1928, the Board of Education made another
addition to the Brookline School building at the cost of $106,000. At this time, eight
classrooms were added including a kindergarten. In addition, the auditorium
was rebuilt, two gymnasiums added and a cooking room installed.
By the mid 1930s, the West Liberty
School had nine teachers and one head teacher. It's peak enrollment was 415
students (including kindergarten) in the 1934-35 school year. Brookline
School had thirty-three full time teachers and one part time teacher. The
minimum salaries were $1200 per year and the maximum, $2200.
In addition to the daily student
education usage, Brookline School was also used as a Community Center of
which Professor Moore was in charge. This center had classes in sewing,
millinery, wood work, mechanical drawing, orchestra and community chorus.
This continued for several years. In 1919 an evening school was opened. Some
of these old subjects continued and a course in automobile mechanics was
added to the curriculum.
When East Brookline was annexed,
the Board of Education bought seventeen acres of ground at the cost of
$17,000. This became the site of Alice M. Carmalt School on Breining Street. Construction began in 1936 and the school
opened the following year.
(end of original
A short followup...
West Liberty School, refered to as
the Little Red Schoolhouse on Capital, closed in 1938. The building was
purchased by the diocese and remodeled. In 1948 it re-opened
as Elizabeth Seton Girls High School. Further renovations were made in the 1950s
and the high school remained open until 1979. At that time it was again
remodeled and today stands as the Seton Center,
run by the Sisters of Charity. It offers senior citizens care and child
To make up for the loss of West
Liberty School, land was purchased at the end of Crysler Street, along
LaMoine Street. A new West Liberty School was constructed and opened in 1939.
An addition to the school was built in 1959 to accomodate the local population surge that
occured after World War II. West Liberty School was closed in 1979. The
school building sat vacant for twenty years. A push for neighborhood schools
led to the re-opening of West Liberty School in 1999. Now called West Liberty
K-5 and South Brook Middle School, the building has been extensively renovated
Pioneer School was built in 1958,
next to West Liberty School at Dunster and LaMoine Streets. The new school
was equipped exclusively for handicapped and special needs children.
Alice M. Carmalt School, opened in 1937, has undergone several expansions over the years.
Today it is an advanced learning school for students from all over the city,
known as Carmalt School of Science and Technology.
Brookline School has not changed
much in appearance over the past sixty years. In the 1960s some portable
classrooms were added next to the school to handle the ever-growing student
population. The inside of the building has seen extensively remodeling over
the years and is still one of the city's premier education institutions. In
2000, the building included a kindergarten, twenty-one academic rooms, a
library, two industrial arts rooms, two home economics rooms, an auditorium
and offices. The teaching staff numbered 27 and the student enrollment was
South Hills High School in Beechview
was closed in 1974, and replaced by the newly constructed Brashear High
School, which also includes South Hills Middle School for 6th through 8th
grades. Today, children from Brookline can choose between several public
high schools for secondary education, and are not required to go to any one
particular school. The same can not be said for elementary students, who
are bound by the school districts feeder pattern to determine which school
they must attend. Most children from Brookline attend Brookline Elementary
or West Liberty Academy.
For parochial education over the last
century, Brookline students could attend Resurrection School. Over the years, the growing student population
led to the formation of St. Pius X School (1955) and Our Lady of Loreto
School (1961). In 1996
these three schools were merged to form Brookline Regional Catholic, located
at the St. Pius campus on Pioneer Avenue. The old Resurrection School buildings
are being renovated into a senior housing complex.
Public education in Brookline has come
a long way in Brookline over the last 100 years. It's effect on the social
development of the community can not be underestimated, and the efforts of
pioneers like Professor Joseph F. Moore were instrumental in this success.
Today, Brookline students have so many options in public education to help
them prepare for the future, and Brookline Elementary School and West Liberty
Academy are leading the way.
Organizations and Institutions
Recreation can not be overlooked
in a community. For many years, Brookline was lagging behind the rest of the
city as far as this diversion was concerned. Perhaps it wasn't necessary to
have parks in the early days on account of the wide open spaces surrounding
the community. There were plenty of open lots, and the neighbors didn't mind
the kids playing, and there were some private tennis courts, but no summer
camps. As the first decade of the 1900s came to a close the only recreation
grounds available were in connection with the schools.
In 1911, Professor Moore induced the
School Board of the 44th ward to rent the vacant ground around the new
Brookline School for five years at the rate of $100 a year. The object was
to try and persuade the City of Pittsburgh to purchase these grounds during
the interim for recreation purposes. This same plan was carried out with the
Beechwood School in Beechview and was successful. However, as the City of
Pittsburgh was contemplating buying the grounds around the Brookline School,
a New York attorney who was an authority on Municipal bonding decided that
the City of Pittsburgh had exceeded its bonding power and it was decided
that for a period of years no playgrounds or public improvements should be
Mr. Knowlson, owner of the grounds
around the Brookline School, was obsessed with the idea that it should be
used for the children. So, in 1922, after Professor Moore had heard that the
Board of Education had bought other ground for playground purposes,
he laid a model according to scale in one of the vacant class rooms. He then held
an open house so that local residents could see the outcome of such a procedure.
The outcome of this was that the property was bought in 1923 and turned into
a playground attached to the school.
The Brookline Board of Trade sponsored
Recreation in 1908. They secured the grounds for the first baseball club
located between Berkshire and Woodbourne Avenues. When this property was sold,
the ball field was moved to the property on Wedgemere Avenue between Rossmore
and Gallion Avenues.
Efforts were also made to get the
wooded property off Edgewood Avenue for a swimming pool. This came about when
the owners of the Paul farm allowed their taxes to become delinquent. A
committee of citizens got together and purchased the property from the City
in lieu of back taxes.
This property was directly opposite
the West Liberty School. Plans, however, were not carried out due to
Professor Moore's objections to the location. Later, ten more acres were
bought near the same location, but nothing was done until a committee
composed of members of the West Liberty Civic club and West Liberty Council
went to City Council and asked that the property be developed.
Professor Moore was the head spokesman
and he asked that engineers lay plans so that the property could be developed
unit by unit. City Council was impressed with the plan, and it was not long
before they sent Chief Engineer Reppert to see Professor Moore for
The progress of Brookline was brought
to the public's attention on November 14, 1935 at a dinner held in the
Brookline Methodist Episcopal Church by the Joint Civic Committee. The Joint
Civic Committee was composed of the various organizations in Brookline,
namely the Brookline Board of Trade, the Brookline Boosters Association,
the Woman's Civic Club of Brookline, the Brookline Business Men's Association,
the Brookline Boulevard Improvement Association, the East Brookline Community
Club, the West Liberty Community Council, the Roosevelt Democratic Club,
the America Legion Post 540 and the Ladies Auxiliary American
This meeting was held to celebrate
the final realization of the Boulevard Improvement project. This project
consisted of widening and paving the Pittsburgh Railways right-of-way for
both trolley and vehicle traffic, and the creation of Bodkin Street. The
boulevard was also repaved and new lighting installed. Other improvements
included new sewers and infrastructure improvements.
Federal, County and City officials
spoke. The object of the Joint Civic Committee was brought out. It stressed
that every student of civic affairs knows that the growth and expansion of
any suburb of a great city is vitally dependent upon the installation of such
civic improvements as are necessary to keep pace with its development. No
community can thrive without an up-to-date main thoroughfare; or without its
own cultural and recreational centers.
The lack of these indispensable civic
facilities were keenly felt in Brookline over the early years of its
existence. Numerous efforts were made, by various civic bodies and
individually civic spirited citizens to secure these badly needed
improvements. This general demand finally reached its climax in a large mass
meeting held October 17, 1933, under the auspices of all Brookline's Civic
Organizations. At this meeting it was resolved that delegates from each civic
body be appointed, together to be constituted into a Joint Civic Commitee,
whose sole object it shall be to obtain these needed civic improvements for
Brookline. The Committee was headed by none other than Professor Joseph F.
In the following two year period the
total cost of improvements made in Brookline, sponsored by the Joint Civic
Committee, amounted to nearly one half million dollars. One of their major
achievements was the relocation of Brookline Blvd. The cost of relocating
the Boulevard from West Liberty to Pioneer Avenue, including property damages,
amounted to $220,000, made available from the 1928 bond issue known as Bond
Fund 293. Professor Moore concluded that "the broad lane of traffic form West
Liberty to Pioneer Avenue, now being built, is sure to open a new chapter in
the development of Brookline. It will add considerably to the value of
Brookline property and make it a much more desirable place to live." He was
quite correct in his statement.
Another accomplishment of the Joint
Civic Committee was the installation of the Brookline
Branch of the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh, established in the year of 1930 and located in the
basement of the Brookline Methodist Episcopal Church. The new Brookline
Library was made possible through the circulation of a public petition
presented to City Council, citing the need for a library for the people of
Brookline. Professor Moore commented, "The intelligence, alertness to new
ideas, and the basic culture of a community are usually reflected in its use
of its pubic library. Judged upon this basis, Brookline ranks high among the
districts of Pittsburgh."
The Committee deemed it a privilege to
record that Professor Moore, with his characteristic energy, used his utmost
endeavor in his intercession with the authorities, with the highly gratifying
result that on September 1, 1935, the Post Office Department announced the
granting of a branch post office for Brookline. The Post Office would be
known as Brookline Station, Pittsburgh. Prior to the new Brookline Post
Office, residents of Brookline receive their mail through the Dormont Post
The final major achievement of the
Joint Civic Committee was the construction of a public recreation facility on
the grounds bought previously near West Liberty School on Pioneer Avenue.
Completed in 1940 and named Joseph F. Moore Park, the playground supplies an
imperative civic necessity to the Brookline community. This is the property
that Professor Moore asked to be engineered and developed unit by unit. When
the park was completed, it was one of the finest in Allegheny County. It
contained a recreation building, two athletic fields, an olympic sized
swimming pool, tennis courts, a playground and a nice picnic area with
fountains and shade trees.
One of Professor Moore's suggestions
that did not materialize was the building of a public high school in or near
Brookline. "If the financial resources of the Board of Education warrant,"
the Professor stressed, "then the erection of a high school in Brookline to
serve the entire district is desirable. It is estimated that 600 boys and
girls of the Brookline commute daily to the South Hills High School. This
necessitates the expense of carfare and waste of time consumed in long
(end of original
A short followup:
Unfortunately, this suggestion fell by
the wayside. South Hills High School continued as Brookline's only choice
for secondary public education until the late-1970s, when local students were
transferred to Brashear High School, opened in 1976 in Beechview off of Crane
Avenue. Brookline failed to get their new high school, but because of the
efforts of Professor Joseph F. Moore and others like him, Brookline's
social development was strengthened by the addition of the many diverse
Over the past seventy-plus years,
Moore Park has continued to serve the community in a way the would have impressed
Professor Moore. The park has not changed much in all these years. A new
child-friendly playground was installed in the 1990s, and the swimming pool
underwent a major overhaul, with the diving boards removed in favor of a
new water-slide. Parking has been improved slightly. In 2001, a move to
expand the park with a multi-million dollar, ten acre expansion was vetoed
by local residents based on privacy concerns.
This was but one minor setback in the
pursuit of better recreation facilities. A major victory was celebrated in
1945, when the newly formed Community Center Association secured
the 20 acre Anderson Farm for $20,000, between Brookline Boulevard and Breining Street,
and began the long task of creating a new park for the residents of East
The new park, designated the Brookline
Memorial Community Center, was graually developed by the association, with the
generous donations of labor and material from local Brookline enterprises.
In 1951, a new baseball field was built, and the Brookline
Little League was
formed, an institution that entered its 50th
year in 2000.
The old farmhouse was renovated and
turned into a community meeting and recreation hall, and the land around
the building was developed into a multi-purpose recreation area with
playground equipment and a large open space for community gatherings like
annual fund-raising carnivals.
Facing increasing financial burdens,
the Community Center Association sold the property to the city of Pittsburgh
for a sum of $1 with the promise that the city would develop the land in a
fashion similar to Moore Park. Over the next 40 years, the city invested
millions of dollars into
the park. A new multi-purpose recreation building
was built, along with three new baseball fields, a swimming pool, a new
child-friendly playground and large open green spaces. It truly is a
beautiful park and a testament to the hard work and dedication of the members
of the Community Center Association, and later the Brookline
Area Community Council,
under the leadership of Mrs. Elva McGibbeny. Without their stellar efforts, the
new Brookline Memorial Park would be but a dream.
The Brookline Library, first located
in the basement of the Methodist Church, moved to a new building at 730
Brookline Boulevard in the 1940s, the moved to a larger building at 716
Brookline Boulevard in the late-1980s. In 2001, the building was purchased
by the Brookline
Area Community Council, under the leadership of Mrs. Marlene
Curran. Grant money for the project was obtained through State Representatives
Frank Gigliotti and Michael Diven.
The building was handed over to the
city of Pittsburgh with the promise that it would be renovated and, most
importantly, that this valuable community asset would remain in Brookline for
many years to come. The building was transformed in a multi-million dollar renovation that created an ultra-modern facility, one of the nicest Carnegie
Libraries in the entire city of Pittsburgh.
The branch of the United States Post
Office located in Brookline served until 1958, when
a new state-of-the-art building was built at 612 Brookline Boulevard.
Professor Moore was still active in community affairs at the time, and was the
Master of Ceremonies at the dedication of the facility. At that time he was the
Chairman of the Board of the Brookline Savings and Trust Company, having retired
as principal of Brookline and Carmalt Schools in 1940.
The Brookline community has experienced
steady growth over the last century, and its residents have been blessed
with the availability of ample recreational alternatives. If recreation truly
is an important factor in the social development of a community, then
Brookline has to rank as one of the more socially developed communities in
the city of Pittsburgh. There are so many alternatives available now for the
children to play and grow in a safe and friendly atmosphere.
Most of this material
came from a 20-page work donated to the Brookline Branch Library on March 14,
Miss Wida Jane Cook. Some anecdotes were obtained from a Brookline
Journal article dated May, 1959.
The remainder was written and edited by Clint Burton, September 30,