The Coal Company Boarding House

A view of the Heilwood Coal Company's Boarding House #1 (left), showing the wash house in the rear.

A view of the Heilwood Coal Company’s Boarding House #1 (left), showing the wash house in the rear.

Boarding House #1 (circa 1940)

Boarding House #1 (circa 1940)

Floorplan for the basement of Boarding House #1.


Floorplan for the first story of Boarding House #1.
Floorplan for the second story of Boarding House #1. Floorplans for Boarding House #1.

Although coal companies consciously tried to hire married men to reduce turnover in their workforce, many unmarried men were also hired. Many of these men were required to live in the company’s boarding houses, under the direct supervision of a boarding house boss.

Hand-written bill for the work on the Boarding House #1 in 1906

Hand-written bill for the work on the Boarding House #1 in 1906, detailing the cost of the boarding house, wash house, and the front porch.

The first such structure in Heilwood for this purpose was built in the fall and winter of 1905. The building would be a two-story, 24-room, wood-framed building, costing almost $2,000. This would be called Boarding House #1.

W. L. Johnson of Lycippus (Westmoreland County), Pennsylvania would be the builder. In addition to the boarding house, Johnson would construct (in early 1906) a detached wash house behind the main building (see top picture). This structure was 16′ x 24′ x 8′ and cost an additional $227.

Following this, Johnson would add a front porch – 9′ wide x 50′ long – to the front of the building (see pictures) at a cost of $130.

Insurance on the completed building would be taken out with the agency of Forrest R. Miller and Harry W. Dumm from Barnesboro (Cambria County), Pa.

Boarding House #2 was created through the acquisition of the original Pine Township School (Poplar Springs School #5) building located south of Heilwood. The school acquired a larger, more centrally located property, and the former school building was remodeled by the coal company and turned into Boarding House #2.

Boarding House #3, located about a half mile south of town, was built around 1910-1911 and had 16 rooms. This location was near Mines #2 and #3 and Leone’s Store – otherwise known as the “#2 Area”.

Boarding House #1 was purchased in 1948 by the Rossi family.