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Bright Times in Blairsville; The borough’s legacy beckons renewed life

Date: 3/1/2014

By John Moist


Nestled comfortably in a crook of the Conemaugh River, Blairsville
Borough, Indiana County sits atop history itself. With a past rooted in canals
and railways, foundries and factories, the interwoven community stands today as
a testament to nearly 200 years of heritage. Whether strolling the downtown
farmers’ market or taking in historic sights of the Elm Street neighborhood,
the  legacy and life of Blairsville pulls
you in. Today, with Route 22 bustling nearby, many commuters and travelers are unaware
of the history contained just a stone’s throw away.


Seven years ago, Blairsville was in need of a makeover.
Dilapidated buildings and downtrodden streets could be found around town; the role
of the Conemaugh River was diminished with limited access; and revitalization
goals remained unrealized. The community, however, would not sit on its heels.
Instead, it worked with the Allegheny Ridge Corporation (ARCorp) to
competitively apply for technical assistance through the national Your Town
program, which has an objective of bringing the community together in urban
planning and community revitalization decisions.


Bright times were ahead for Blairsville. The partnership with ARCorp
was successful and in 2006 the Your Town workshop, sponsored by the National
Endowment for the Arts in cooperation with the National Trust for Historic
Preservation, was launched with locals taking the matter of restoring and
refreshing their community into their own hands.


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