Sunday, September 7, 2008

My Town Monday: Dormont Memories

Though I was born at Allegheny General Hospital in Pittsburgh, I grew up just outside the city in the little borough of Dormont. Incorporated in 1909, it was the first independent municipality in Greater Pittsburgh's South Hills area. The name is a play on the French mont d'or meaning gold mountain. At less than one square mile, Dormont is compact and walkable, if you don't mind the hills. There's also good bus and light rail service. In 2000 the population was 9,305. Can you say densely populated?

I don't know if it was that densely populated when I was growing up there back in the 1950's and early 60's, but many of the houses were duplexes, so it might have been. As a child I didn't pay attention to statistics. Though small and urban, Dormont in that period wasn't all concrete. There was a large wooded area near Kelton Elementary School, complete with a swinging rope hanging from a large tree for the more daring kids.

On the other side of town is Dormont Park, a lovely, green park. The Fourth of July was a big day in Dormont. In the morning my dad would drive me to Dormont Pool, located in the park, where every child was given a grab bag full of little toys, candy and lots of peanuts in the shell. My dad always ate most of my peanuts. Then there was a local parade along West Liberty Avenue. In the evening, we'd head back to the park, where we sat on a blanket in the park to watch the annual fireworks display and was it spectacular!

Dormont Pool is the oldest (1923) municipal swimming pool in Pennsylvania as well as one of the largest at >60,000 square feet. I spent many a hot summer day at the pool, getting cooled off, only to walk home uphill and end up as sweaty as I'd started out. Apparently the pool is now in need of major repairs and locals are pitching in to save it. Details are at

The church we attended, Dormont Presbyterian, is now over 100 years old and has been designated as a historic place by the Pittsburgh History & Landmarks Foundation.

(A view of downtown Pittsburgh from Biltmore Avenue in Dormont.)

Dormont offers the best of two worlds in its small town atmosphere and its proximity to a big city. I remember riding the streetcar into Pittsburgh with my mom to shop at Joseph Horne's or one of the other big department stores. In the 1920's and 30's Dormont was touted for its clean air, South Hills being relatively free of the smoke and pollution in Pittsburgh. By the 1950's, the area had switched from coal to natural gas and the air was much cleaner everywhere. As a child, I thought most of the buildings in downtown where made of black stone. Then one day I saw a building being sandblasted and realized they were all covered with coal soot!

Famous Dormonters include comedian Dennis Miller and Republican Congresman Ron Paul who ran for president this year and, of course, me. (Just kidding.)

Dormont was a great place to grow up, and to judge by this article at, it still is. Maybe one of these days I'll even get to visit again. It was fun getting re-acquainted with my home town again, and I was happy to learn that's it's still a nice place to live.


My Town Monday comes to us via Travis Erwin. Thanks, Travis! Click on his site to read his latest post and find links to the other participants.


debra said...

When I first saw your post, Linda, I couldn't figure out why you'd write about dormant memories!!! Thanks for an interesting post.

Britta Coleman said...

That first photo looked straight out of Mary Poppins. Great post.

Terrie Farley Moran said...

Hi Linda,

Wonderful post. What a terrific little town! I do hope you get to visit it again someday.

When it comes to you, Dennis and Ron, to all of us you ARE the most famous.


Joshua said...

great post :)

lyzzydee said...

I think it looks like a toytown all those prettty houses!!

Barrie said...

Dennis Miller? Interesting! Actually, your entire post was interesting. Thank you.

Mary said...


I really enjoyed your post and learning more about this city that is just a few hours east of us.

pattinase (abbott) said...

And a few more hours east of us.

Travis Erwin said...

I have to give it to the East. Out west neighborhoods just aren't as interesting or unique. or it is rare of they are.

Linda McLaughlin said...

Debbie, I didn't even notice the play on words until Travis referred to the post as "dormant memories". I guess some of them were dormant until I wrote the blog.

Britta, I hadn't thought of Mary Poppins, but with all the steep roofs and chimneys, I see your point.

Terrie, thanks, but I wish I were as well-known as Dennis Miller!


Linda McLaughlin said...

lyzzydee, lol about the toy town. It's small but not that small. ;)

Travis, I don't think Western towns are less interesting, just younger. You make Amarillo very interesting.


Clare2e said...

Nice post. You reminded me of all the summer days in TX with our stamped-metal park-issue tags safety-pinned to our swimsuits so we could be at the pool all day. Hope Dormont manages to save it!

Barbara Martin said...

Your post reminded me of the summer times I had as a child in Edmonton. Fathers do have a tendency everywhere to share your personal snacks. My Dad used to take part of my Elephant popcorn.

Linda McLaughlin said...

Barbara, LOL, my dad would have liked the popcorn, too.


Anonymous said...

A correction to 2 pieces of information in your post. Dennis Miller went to school in the Keystone Oaks School System. That system is comprised of 3 non-contiguous suburb communities of Pittsburgh: Greentree, Dormont, and Castle Shannon. Although he graduated from Keystone Oaks High School, in actuality, Mr. Miller was a resident of Castle Shannon. Ron Paul, although a graduate of Dormont High School, now known as Keystone Oaks High School after a merger of the above 3 communities' education facilities, was actually a resident of Greentree.

Linda McLaughlin said...

Anonymous, thanks for the corrections. Obviously I got some bad info online (what a shock). And yes, I knew Keystone Oaks was formed by the school districts of Dormont, Greentree and Castle Shannon.

mikeyantz said...

wow, this is great. i love dormont so much, im right down here on the corner of potomac and crosby, my grandma bought this house so many years ago, my mom has it now and ill probably have it sooner or later. well im glad this amazing little borough gets some recognition =)

Linda McLaughlin said...

Hi Mike, glad you found the blog and enjoyed it. Sounds like Dormont is still a great place to live. I grew up on Wisconsin Ave. a couple of blocks off West Liberty. Thanks for dropping by.

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