The History of the Morrow Barn

The Past (1834 to 1975)

The Penn Hebron Garden Club building, also known as the Morrow barn building, is a 183 year-old structure and historic landmark located at 237 Jefferson Rd. in the heart of Penn Hills.*  The barn was constructed in 1834 of hand-hewn virgin oak, on the Morrow Family Farm, which covered some 340 acres known as the Flying Shuttle.

In 1921, a group of women organized the Allegheny County Unit of the National Farm and Garden Association.  Not only did these 14 women set about beautifying their community by planting flowers and shrubs around public buildings, they sold their produce, eggs and handicrafts and held benefits in order to fulfill their dream of having a clubhouse.

In 1928, the women bought the old barn, which was nearly 100 years old then, and set to converting it into their permanent meeting space.  Around that time, the membership changed the name of its organization to The Penn Hebron Garden Club.

There was much cleanup.  The wagon wheels, oxen yokes and old lanterns found in the barn were converted into the light fixtures you can see upstairs today. The animal stalls and barn floor became the kitchen and dining area.  The loft was converted into the present upstairs ballroom.   Mrs. H. S. (Ella) Morrow served as the club’s first president.  Her photograph can still be seen to the left of the stage. The stage was subsequently added to the ballroom, so that entertainment could be incorporated into the club’s fundraising efforts.  For decades, the members of the Penn Hebron Garden Club staged original plays, held music concerts and flower shows, along with community benefits.  In keeping with the Club’s mission, several churches were allowed to build their congregations at the clubhouse before they were able to construct their own home buildings.  St. Bartholomew’s and Zion Lutheran are two such examples.

The Morrow Barn is home to many historic documents and photos which evince both the club’s rich history while mirroring that of Penn Hills itself. In these records, we can learn that the financing for the purchase of the barn began with only 12 pennies.  The mortgage was fully paid in 1936 and was commemorated with a festive note burning celebration. Most prominently, on June 8, 1975 the club celebrated the acquisition of the plaque that designates the clubhouse as a historical landmark as recognized by the Pittsburgh Historical Landmarks Society.  In July 2015, the plaque was refurbished to its original condition. 

*Thanks and full credit to the members of the Penn Hebron Garden Club for selected historical text. In particular, Mrs. Harry S. Morrow, a history written by Ruby Faulkner Woods (1975) was used as source material.

The Present

Today, The Penn Hebron Garden Club remains an active club, whose 90+ members undertake all manner of community service, while having a bit of fun in the process.  The club’s current President is Mrs. Patricia G. Bond.  In early 2012, just as the members of the Club found themselves pondering the future of their club and clubhouse, an opportunity to enter into a unique and mutually beneficial partnership with the Penn Hills Community Development Corporation arose.

In late 2012, an agreement was reached between the Penn Hills Community Development Corporation (PHCDC) and the Penn Hebron Garden Club (PHGC) granting the management of the clubhouse to the PHCDC.  During this arrangement, the PHGC continued to pursue its activities in its longtime home, while at the same time the PHCDC, a non-profit entity (501-C-3), utilized the revenue from the management of the building to insure that the PHCDC would continue to grow.   That contract reached its end in November 2014, but both organizations continue to serve the Penn Hills community at large.

1834
1921
1928
1936
1975
2012

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