History of the Borough of Windber
Around a time of great economic change in the 19th century, millions of people immigrated from Europe to the United States. Many immigrants were attracted to the coal industry because of its great need. The coal industry prospered at the time and was a steady source of income. Magyars (Hungarians), Slovaks, Poles, Carpatho-Russians, Italians and other nationalities joined the work-force of the Berwind-White Coal Mining Company in Windber, Pennsylvania which became the backbone of Windber’s Industries. “Windber” derived its name from the first president of the coal company, Charles Berwind.
Windber was founded in 1897 by the Berwinds, a family of entrepreneurs who made a fortune in the coal industry. They used this fortune to systematically design a town complete with houses, churches, banks, schools, company stores, theaters and recreation areas. The Berwind-White Head quarters, later turned into the Windber Borough Municipal Building.
During the time when most of the men were working in the mine, mothers and sisters worked at home. They typically bought their household goods such as soap, dishes or linens at the Company Store called Eureka Department Store. It dates from 1899 and still stands today on the east corner of 15th Street and Somerset Avenue.
In times of leisure, families would find it relaxing to go to a show at the Arcadia Theater. There they could enjoy plays and vaudeville presentations. In the mid- 1920’s, the theater began to present “talkies”. These were the first black and white movies with sound. This represented a new leap in the world of technology and entertainment. Residents of Windber could also enjoy some time at the recreation parks and facilities provided for them. They held church gatherings, pageants and weekly bingo. Residents also had the opportunity to participate in local “home team” sports.
All of these great leisure activities can still be had today in our great town!! Come see for yourself!! Why not Windber?!