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Donora Public Library History
- The Donora Public Library was founded in 1930. On January 30th of that year, a meeting of citizens took place representing 22 organizations interested in forming a public library. The meeting was sponsored by the Donora Women’s Club with Mrs. C.B. Charles presiding. The meeting was held at the Tri-Plant Club.
- The Donora Library Association was formed at this meeting, and donations of books were solicited from the community. April 22, 1930 was set aside as Library Day and on that day, hundreds of books were donated to the library. Early in July of 1930, a formal opening was held at the library’s first location at the Tri-Plant Club. The first Librarian was Mrs. Caroline Goodman, and Mrs. Rose C. Muoio was an assistant.
- In 1940, William Donner, one of the founders of Donora, provided the library with its first annual gift of $100.
- The Donora Public Library was incorporated on October 18, 1943 and was housed at the Tri-Plant Club until 1946 when the collection was relocated to the Community Center Building.
- In 1995, ground was broken for a new home at 510 Meldon Avenue. The project was funded by a grant from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and funds from the Donora Public Library Board of Directors, the Borough of Donora, the Redevelopment Authority of Washington County, Polycom-Huntsman Corporation, Friends of the Donora Community and local fund-raising campaigns.
- The present facility was dedicated on October 26, 1996.
- In 2001, the Harold W. Lauerman and Hazel R. Lauerman Memorial Fund for the Donora Library Association was created at the Washington County Community Foundation to fulfill the terms of a bequest made by Mr. Lauerman to support the Donora Public Library.
- Lauerman, who died November 7, 2000 at the age of 86, was born and raised in Donora. He was a veteran of World War II. He and his wife Hazel, also from Donora, spent their retirement years in Donora and Florida. Hazel Lauerman, a retired head elementary school teacher in the Donora School District, died in 1999.
- The Lauerman Foundation is one of the examples of the generosity of Donorans.
- Throughout the years, community members continue to show their dedication to the Donora Public Library through memorial gifts and donations. Without the help of those dedicated individuals in augmenting our municipal and state funding, the Library would not be able to serve as such a vital part of the community.
- As we reflect on our first seventy-five-plus years, we feel great pride and gratitude to those, both living and passed, whose gifts allow this library to be a treasure for generations to come.
The Donora Story
an excerpt from the account of
J. P. Clark
March 9, 1951
At present, Donora is a community of about 12,000 people. These people are typical of the robust industrialized communities of America in general but unusual in its heterogeneous grouping of nationalities and races. The Scotch, Irish, English, Slovak, Italian, Russian, Croatian, Assyrian, Spanish, Mexican, French, Polish, African Americans, Lithuanian, Scandinavian, German, Hungarian, Austrian and Jewish people give the town a manifold culture that has been swirled into one to make Donora “The Home of Champions.”
The town itself is situated on a neck of land that slopes stiffly down to the Monongahela River. The wide river which collars Donora, almost makes an island of the community and then, reluctantly, winds its placid way northward to Pittsburgh.
The little town of Donora, snuggled between the hills of Western Pennsylvania has reached national importance in two fields, industry and athletics.
Its chief industries are the Donora American Steel and Wire Works and the Donora Zinc Works of the American Steel & Wire Company. Coal mining is also extensive in the area immediately surrounding the town itself. The Pennsylvania Railroad reaches a branch of rails through Donora, connecting it with Pittsburgh and the Donora Southern Railroad rolls the huge steel output to the rails of the nation. It is a steel town, a zinc town, and a town of healthy, cheerful, hospitable people.
Donora has given Stan Musial of the St. Louis Cardinals to an acclaiming nation of baseball fans and idol to the youth of the nation. Arnold “Pope” Galiffa, All-American quarterback at West Point in 1949 has thrilled the nation with his superlative generalship on the football field and his skill as a forward passer. “Pope” recently won national recognition again in Korea where he accomplished the unheard of feat of throwing a grenade accurately into a nest of Reds 75 yards away. And then, in 1945, Donora High School was rated as having the second best high school football team in the nation.
CONTACT THE DONORA PUBLIC LIBRARY FOR DETAILS ON OBTAINING THE REMAINDER OF “THE DONORA STORY” BY J.P. CLARK
THE SMOG INVERSION OF 1948
“Major federal clean air laws became a legacy of this environmental disaster that focused national attention on air pollution. In late October of 1948, a heavy fog blanketed this valley, and as the days passed, the fog became a thick, acrid smog that left about 20 people dead and thousands ill. Not until October 31, did the Donora Zinc Works shut down its furnaces–just hours before rain finally dispersed the smog.”
Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission Historical Markers