St. Clair Park in downtown Greensburg is more than just a recreation center in the city.
Headstones and monuments to lives both remarkable and now anonymous dot the 10-acre park which hosts weekly free concerts during the summer months.
St. Clair’s Park, ceded to the city in 1808 by landowner William Jack, was one of two cemeteries in the city until Greensburg leaders banned cemeteries within city limits in 1888.
The park’s history is one of heartbreak and joy, according to Greensburg Councilman Randy Finfrock.
“That’s where I grew up and spent hours and hours in this park,” Finfrock said.
“It was a place to grow up and a meeting place.”
Finfrock, 71, said his childhood home adjoined the park which doubled as a sort of backyard for him and other children growing up in Greensburg. At one time it featured a baseball field, a large playground and a swimming pool.
Today the park still has a small playground near Arch Avenue, but also a winding walking path, benches, and the Maple Avenue side is home to the Robertshaw Amphitheater which hosts the popular Summer Sounds weekly free concert series.
A log cabin rebuilt with materials from the original structure that served as a church in 1783 sits just north of the amphitheater.
But the park still serves as a sort of cemetery. More than a dozen tombs and monuments are spread throughout the property, including the burial site of the park’s namesake, Arthur St. Clair.
St. Clair served as a major general during the Revolutionary War, president of the Continental Congress in 1787, and judge of the court when Westmoreland County was formed in 1773. He died in 1818.
Most of those buried in what is now St. Clair’s Park were moved to other cemeteries in the area after city law banned cemeteries within the city limits of Greensburg, said Tom Harrold, a local historian and president of the Baltzer Meyer Historical Society in Greensburg.
“There are still remains out there,” Harrold said.
The remaining headstones and other tombstones are weathered and difficult to read. Several lists date from the early 1800s. There are no records of who and how many people remain buried in the park.
“It’s sad that this story has left us,” Harrold said.
Workers laying a concrete walking path in the park in the early 2000s unearthed human remains during the excavation portion of the project.
According to a Tribune-Review report, a skull was lodged in a dirt wall about 2 feet from the surface.
A leg bone was discovered, along with other unidentified bones. The uphill side of the path also contained what appeared to be pieces of tombstones, parts of which remained embedded in the earthen wall.
These remains were reinterred in the park in 2002.
A statue honoring Nathanael Greene, the Revolutionary War hero after whom the city is named, was erected in St. Clair Park in 1999.
Finfrock said the park remains a centerpiece of city life and has been revitalized by the free concerts that draw thousands every Friday night during the summer months.
“The park has had a second life,” Finfrock said.
“But it’s a shame we lost that historical aspect of the park.”
Rich Cholodofsky is a staff writer for Tribune-Review. You can contact Rich at 724-830-6293, [email protected] or via Twitter .