Pittsburgh History: George was here

MIKE FUNYAK, Staff Writer

Located in the town of Wilmerding, a large building stands proudly. The building, which was formally called the General Office Building, is now known as the George Westinghouse Castle or just ‘The Castle’.

The building was initially built in 1890 and served as the general administrative office for the Westinghouse Airbrake Company from 1896 until 1984. Now a Historic Landmark on the National, State, and Local levels, this building was built by George Westinghouse himself.

George Westinghouse also had his office in the building where he would look out his window many times and watch the trains travel by and stop at the company. George Westinghouse invented the Air Brake in 1869 and so established the Westinghouse Air Brake Company.

The first plant was located near what is now Pittsburgh’s Strip District but soon moved out to what became known as Wilmerding.

George Westinghouse himself bought the land and built the town of Wilmerding, and built many flats, or houses, for his workers in the newly established town.

With the invention of the Air Brake, Westinghouse was able to establish many other companies. Although he would have many different companies, Westinghouse eventually lost control of them. The only company he retained until his death in 1914 was the Westinghouse Air Brake Company or WABCO.

After American Standard, the owners of WABCO moved out of the building in 1984, the building was owned and used by Apics.  Now run by a non-profit organization, known as Wilmerding Renewed Inc, loyal volunteers continue to pay tribute to George Westinghouse.

The building offers a unique place to learn about Westinghouse but also the Wilmerding area. The Westinghouse Castle offers space for business meetings, social events, receptions, banquets, and parties.

The castle also offers the public a new art gallery, a Wilmerding history room, a museum of Westinghouse pictures and artifacts, and a large train display. The train display and layout is in a large room, and depicts the Wilmerding area.

The trains have been painted and detailed sporting the Westinghouse logo and letters, along with the famous Westinghouse Blue.  The Model Train Club also sells trains available for purchase.

The entire display is run and operated by local community volunteers. The Model Train Club is open for anyone and membership forms are available at the Westinghouse Castle.

This famous landmark of Wilmerding represents George Westinghouse and his companies. By taking a step inside, guests will instantly fall in love with the architecture and design of the interior. But the only way for people to learn about George Westinghouse, who he was, and his companies, is to visit the Westinghouse Castle.

George Westinghouse truly was innovative and changed the way we live our lives. When wanting to learn about Westinghouse history, a visit to the Castle is a must. The building is open and free to the public Tuesday through Saturday. Donations are suggested to keep the building up and open so future generations can experience the building and its history. When leaving the building, just think, “George Was Here.”