History & Houses

“One thing I’ve learned here is that the thing people are most interested in is their houses,” said Geoff Hurd, president of the Historical Society of Mount Lebanon.

The society’s latest exhibit,  Mt. Lebanon Takes Shape, combines history with houses.

“There tend to be two types of houses in Mt. Lebanon,” Hurd said. “The ones that turn over every few years and the ones that stay in the family for three generations.”

 John Conti describes the Historical Society of Mount Lebanon's latest exhibit.
John Conti lent his expertise to curate the Historical Society of Mount Lebanon’s exhibit of houses built in the 1920s and ’30s.

Curated by John Conti, an award-winning architecture writer whose stories have appeared in Mt. Lebanon Magazine, among other places, the exhibit points to the impact of automobiles of housing construction. Fun fact: The 1893 World’s Fair in Chicago featured exactly one automobile. By the time the 1904 fair took place in St. Louis, there were more than 150 cars on display.

At the same time, Mt. Lebanon Takes Shape traces the outlines of the Mission Hills layout as far back as 18th century England. How did that come about? Visit the History Center to find out. Currently it’s open from 9 to 3 on Saturdays, but may add some hours to allow more people to see the the exhibit.

Be sure to check out one of the coolest parts of the exhibit: The re-created living room with items corresponding to the time period, including an old radio and books from that era.

“We even found a copy of The Sheik,” Conti said. “It was the Fifty Shades of Grey of its time.”

A typical living room from the 1920s.
Historical society volunteers helped to furnish this re-created version of a 1920s living room.