Help restore the Irish-Townsend House and preserve an important piece of Beaver County history – a building that has been in the New Brighton community for over 150 years.
The New Brighton Historical Society has recently purchased this house and is facing the first phase of an expensive restoration. This is an incredible opportunity to bring back this building as a focal point in the town, but we need your support! With a first phase cost estimate reaching $75,000, all donations will go directly towards restoring the Irish-Townsend House.
The objective of this fundraising period is to gather immediate backing necessary for 4 objectives:
1. Cleaning out the house of “junk” left behind the tenants. There are canned goods still on the shelves!
2. Create a Historical Structure Report (HSR). State and federal agencies as well as other institutions require this report for their funding and grants. This is best done by a professional.
3. A complete structural and mechanical review of the house needs done, again by a professional.
4. Security, as the house needs to be secured from the elements and the occasional unwanted visitor.
Located in the Borough of New Brighton on an upper plateau overlooking downtown, the Irish – Townsend House has a rich history. The original structure was built by Lydia Irish shortly in 1855. Lydia was the widow of William Beckford Irish. They were Quakers and Abolitionists living in Lisbon, Ohio. After William’s death, Lydia and her 4 sons and a daughter moved to New Brighton. They became friends with many of the historically notable families of New Brighton. The Townsends, Merricks, and Stantons would all be called friends. They continued to support the abolition of slavery. One son, Dallas, would later write about “having kept families of fugitive slaves in his garret (attic) during the day, had drawn them, by night, in a close carriage towards Canada.” Wow!
In 1863, Lydia and her daughter Ellen were living alone in New Brighton while 3 sons were fighting with the Union Army and a fourth was a member of the Pennsylvania State House. They decided to sell and move to Pittsburgh. As Lydia wrote in 1863, “I yesterday signed the deed for my property in New Brighton to William P. Townsend. It is to be delivered on the 1st day of April,…. $4,000 was the most I could get for it, and no one would have given so much as William. He is making great changes there….”
William Penn Townsend was one of the owners of the Townsend Rivet and Wire Company located across the river in Fallston. He really did make “great changes” to the house. Most of the elements in the house today are from his efforts. Most noticeable of those efforts seen by passerbys is the stone wall and slate sidewalk along 13th street. William Penn died there in 1896.
Over the years the house passed through the Townsends to many owners. Those owners would make the house into 4 apartments. Most recently the house has been empty for over 2 years.
We are very grateful for any donations, whether monetary or historical, to help preserve and share this building for generations to come.