Belle Vernon, Pennsylvania

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Belle Vernon
Belle Vernon, as seen from across the Monongahela River
Official name: Belle Vernon
Country United States
State Pennsylvania
County Fayette
District Fayette District, Pennsylvania
Coordinates 40°7′37″N 79°52′6″W / 40.12694°N 79.86833°W / 40.12694; -79.86833Coordinates: 40°7′37″N 79°52′6″W / 40.12694°N 79.86833°W / 40.12694; -79.86833
Lowest point
 - location 40.128034,-79.87598
Area 0.3 sq mi (1 km2)
 - land 0.4 sq mi (1 km2)
 - water 0.1 sq mi (0 km2)
Population 1,093 (2010)
Density 3,643.3 / sq mi (1,407 / km2)
Established 1813 2013 200th anniversary
Mayor Gerald Jackson
Timezone EST (UTC-4)
 - summer (DST) EDT (UTC-5)
Postal code 15012
Area code 724
Location of Belle Vernon in Fayette County
Location of Belle Vernon in Pennsylvania
Location of Pennsylvania in the United States

Belle Vernon is a borough located in Fayette County, Pennsylvania, Pennsylvania along the Monongahela River. The population was 1,211 at the 2000 census. The borough is served by the Belle Vernon Area School District, whose buildings are located in adjacent Rostraver Township, Westmoreland County. "Bellevernon", as it was originally spelled, was laid out in 1813 by Noah Speer in northwestern Fayette County. French for “beautiful green,” this was the name chosen by both Noah Speer for his little community on the Monongahela River and later by his son Louis, who founded a town with nearly the same name just up the hill (North Belle Vernon).


Noah Speer was the father of Louis M. Speer, Esq., born in a log cabin on the Speer homestead/Gibsonton farm in 1810. The younger Mr. Speer was quite the business man and played a large role in the development of Belle Vernon. During his lifetime, the population grew to about 700 and there was a steam ferry connecting Belle Vernon with Allen Township across the river. The little hamlet also boasted 5 dry goods stores, 4 groceries, 2 glasshouses with 87 employees, a boot and shoe, cabinet, chair, wagon, saddle/harness, blacksmith/tanning shops, and 2 sawmills. Louis Speer owned a sandbank outside of town which produced the best quality glass sand. He also owned a large coal works and a large boat yard with more than 50 employees. Louis resided on the NW corner of Main and 2nd streets.

Boat hulls were built at his boatyard (owned in partnership with a man named Morgan Gaskill), located on 3rd street in the 1830s and 1840s. Several steamboats are noted to have come from the yard including the Minstrel which in 1842 fell of its building docks killing one and injuring 10. The St. Anthony bound for Galena, IL and the Cassandra headed to Knoxville, TN came from the Belle Vernon yard. Two boats bound for customers in Pittsburgh were the Alert and the Avalanche (1847).

In 1853, Mr. Speer built a sawmill with partner William Latta, a boat builder, below the mouth of Speers Run. It was destroyed by fire in 1877 and rebuilt by his son William F. Speer. William, who spent 3 months in Libby Prison during the Civil War, left the army after attaining the rank of Lieutenant Colonel. William went bankrupt soon after completing the new mill and sold it to the Belle Vernon Saw and Planning Company in 1880.

The small village of Speers across the river, laid out in 1860 by a kinsman, also gets its name from the same family. North Belle Vernon, in Westmoreland County, was laid out in 1872 by Louis and was incorporated in 1876. Louis died two years later in 1878 and is buried at the Rehoboth Presbyterian Church Cemetery.

Samuel Dougherty, a carpenter, is claimed to have built the first dwelling in North Belle Vernon on Broad Avenue near Spring Alley. He was a very influential person and at one time was justice of the peace, council member, school director, and judge of election, all at the same time. The first two industries were a foundry in 1873 on Broad Avenue above Spring Alley and a flour mill on Speer Street in 1874. Most of these early buildings surrounded the intersection of Short Street and Broad Avenue. Lots were not sold until 1900 and the area beyond Arch Street then began to build up. The population was 1,085 as of the 2010 Census.

Main Street


Belle Vernon is located at 40°7′37″N 79°52′6″W / 40.12694°N 79.86833°W / 40.12694; -79.86833 (40.126936, -79.868285).[1]

According to the United States Census Bureau, the borough has a total area of 0.3 square miles (0.78 km2), of which, 0.3 square miles (0.78 km2) of it is land and 0.1 square miles (0.26 km2) of it (16.13%) is water.


Historical population
Census Pop.
1870 906
1880 1,164 28.5%
1890 1,147 −1.5%
1900 1,901 65.7%
1910 2,372 24.8%
1920 2,342 −1.3%
1930 2,489 6.3%
1940 2,463 −1.0%
1950 2,271 −7.8%
1960 1,784 −21.4%
1970 1,496 −16.1%
1980 1,489 −0.5%
1990 1,213 −18.5%
2000 1,211 −0.2%
2010 1,093 −9.7%
Est. 2012 1,085 −0.7%

As of the census[3] of 2000, there were 1,211 people, 612 households, and 288 families residing in the borough. The population density was 4,647.4 people per square mile (1,798.3/km²). There were 716 housing units at an average density of 2,747.7 per square mile (1,063.3/km²). The racial makeup of the borough was 96.12% White, 2.15% African American, 0.08% Native American, 0.41% Asian, 0.25% from other races, and 0.99% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 0.91% of the population.

There were 612 households out of which 17.8% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 32.7% were married couples living together, 9.6% had a female householder with no husband present, and 52.9% were non-families. 48.9% of all households were made up of individuals and 30.4% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 1.96 and the average family size was 2.89.

In the borough the population was spread out with 17.1% under the age of 18, 7.8% from 18 to 24, 25.1% from 25 to 44, 21.1% from 45 to 64, and 28.8% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 45 years. For every 100 females there were 80.5 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 75.8 males.

The median income for a household in the borough was $18,068, and the median income for a family was $36,094. Males had a median income of $22,434 versus $20,950 for females. The per capita income for the borough was $12,919. About 5.8% of families and 16.2% of the population were below the poverty line, including 21.7% of those under age 18 and 23.1% of those age 65 or over.


  1. ^ "US Gazetteer files: 2010, 2000, and 1990". United States Census Bureau. 2011-02-12. Retrieved 2011-04-23. 
  2. ^ "Census of Population and Housing". U.S. Census Bureau. Retrieved 11 December 2013. 
  3. ^ a b "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2008-01-31. 
  4. ^ "Incorporated Places and Minor Civil Divisions Datasets: Subcounty Resident Population Estimates: April 1, 2010 to July 1, 2012". Population Estimates. U.S. Census Bureau. Retrieved 11 December 2013. 

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