Around the Block

County residents play key roles at Point State Park

May 7, 2014 Cranberry Local News

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Matt Greene, manager of Point State Park in Pittsburgh, makes his home at Moraine State Park where he had been a park ranger.

PITTSBURGH — No image of the Pittsburgh landscape is complete without the iconic Golden Triangle where the three rivers meet. The triangle's Point State Park is historic, recognizable — and operated by Butler County residents.

“You wouldn't expect two people from Butler County to have control over such an important part of the city of Pittsburgh,” said Emily Weaver, curator at the Fort Pitt Block House on the Point since 2011.

Weaver, an Oil City native now living in Butler, literally wrote the book on “The Fort Pitt Block House” and published it in October.

Her colleague, Matt Greene, a Moraine State Park resident, is the Point State Park manager.

Greene said park managers usually live in the parks they serve, but because Point State Park doesn't have a residence, he and his family still live in Moraine, where he was previously a ranger.

He is originally from Leetonia, Ohio, and began his career with the Bureau of State Parks at Keystone State Park in Westmoreland County in 2005.

Weaver graduated from Duquesne University in May 2011 with a master's degree in public history.

“It's really good that you have people who aren't originally from Pittsburgh and aren't even living in the city because that helps make the wider public more aware of the importance of The Point and the importance of the Block House,” Weaver said.

Butler resident Emily Weaver, curator at the Fort Pitt Block House at Point State Park, wrote the first comprehensive history of the building.

“If it's important enough that we want to be here and share the story, then it's obviously something that goes beyond the city of Pittsburgh,” she said.

Constructed in 1764, the Block House is the last remaining structure of Fort Pitt, a defensive edifice built during the French and Indian War, according to Maureen Mahoney Hill, spokesman for the Block House.

“Block House 250” is the name given to the official celebration of the site's 250th anniversary. The Block House is the oldest authenticated building in Western Pennsylvania.

It served as a residence and a candy shop before the Pittsburgh Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution acquired it in 1894 and fought to preserve it as a historic site.

The park was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1975.

“Serving as the western headquarters for the Continental Army is another big aspect of history that not a lot of people understand,” Greene said. “They don't realize that we all could be speaking French at this point if things would have (gone) a little bit different here. Or we all could be under British rule.”

In January 2011, Greene became the first employee of the state Department of Conservation and Natural Resources stationed in Point State Park.

He said the idea of working in one of the few urban state parks in a city he already loved appealed to him.

“I got the opportunity to create the whole thing from scratch, which you never get to do as a park manager,” Greene said.

“Then on the backside, I've always been kind of a history buff, so getting to go to a historic site was just icing on the cake,” he said.

Weaver said she took the position as Block House curator shortly after graduating from Duquesne.

In 2012, she combined her existing knowledge of the Block House with the original documents at the park's Fort Pitt Museum to write the first comprehensive history of the building.

“We've been having book signings and all kinds of presentations throughout southwestern Pennsylvania to promote the book and Block House 250 and the history of the building,” Weaver said. “So it's been very, very successful.”

Weaver said it's rewarding to share the lesser-known history of the site with Western Pennsylvanians.

Greene said Butler County residents should be proud of the national history in Western Pennsylvania.

“The Block House is a crucial part of (our history),” Greene said. “It's the eyewitness for the whole thing.”

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