A Brief History of Swisshelm Park
Swisshelm Park is a neighborhood in the southeast corner of Pittsburgh. It is made up of largely suburban-style ranch and two-story brick homes. Its suburban feel is quite appealing to many employees of the fire department, police department and Pittsburgh schools. Before it was named Swisshelm Park the neighborhood was called home by Susquehannock and Iroquois Indians. Swisshelm was named for the Swisshelm family, who moved to the area in 1800. John Swisshelm was a veteran of Valley Forge. He bought a grist (corn, flour) mill in 1808 and built a small log cabin home in the Nine Mile Run Hollow. The grist mill is likely hidden underneath S. Braddock Ave. and W. Swissvale Ave.—how cool is that? The mill and barn crumbled by 1892 and the log cabin home burned down years later in 1904.
Swisshelm Park is made of mostly Scotch-Irish settlers. It first became famous due to John Swisshelm’s daughter-in-law Jane Grey Cannon Swisshelm, an organizer of the Underground Railroad. She later sealed her name in history as the first woman in the Senate press gallery. Many have said Swisshelm Park was named after Jane. Swisshelm Park was home to William S. Haven, one of the richest Pittsburgh men in the 1800s. His home was next to the Swisshelm home and is right where Edgewood Towne Centre is now. His wife Helen was famous during the Civil War as she aided Union troops at Camp Copeland (in Braddock). Once the Pennsylvania Railroad was built in the area in the early 1850s, industry boomed. Since Swisshelm Park is considered “isolated,” many forget that it’s a Pittsburgh neighborhood and think it’s a suburb instead.