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Shelby Social Club - Ellwood City, PA

In March 1915, the Shelby Steel Tube Company, which oversaw all tube mill operations for the U.S. Steel Corporation, applied for a state charter to start a social club in Ellwood City, Pennsylvania. The club would be for the benefit of the employees of the U.S. Steel’s operations in the city, namely the two plants near the Ewing Park Bridge and along Factory Avenue. The paperwork submitted to the courts read in part, “…the charter of an intended corporation to be called the Shelby Social Club, the character and the object of which is the maintenance of a club to promote the social, physical, and educational welfare of its members and of the community.” The club would be for the benefit of the all employees of the so-called “Tube Mill” and the local citizens.

The charter was soon approved, provided alcohol was not served, and the club was established in a building on the company’s property. Where exactly that building was located is unknown at this time. In 1917 the company opened a magnificent new home for the club at the intersection of 1st Street and Hickory Way near the southeast perimeter of Pittsburgh Circle. The Shelby Building (aka Shelby Social Club) was located just across the street from the main gate of the former National Tube plant area.

The massive three-story recreational building housed an Olympic-sized swimming pool, a bowling alley, an auditorium, a cafeteria, and a basketball court/gymnasium. The auditorium and offices were used by various groups, including the American Red Cross, from around the city. Various company, community, and semi-pro basketball leagues played games in the building over the next decade. The Ellwood City High School, then housed in the Lawrence Building (former Hotel Lawrence) and without a gym of its own, formed its first basketball team in 1918 and played in the Shelby gymnasium. Later, when Lincoln High School was opened in 1926, the basketball team moved to its new home in the gymnasium (later known as the “old gym”) of the school.

The Shelby Building served the U.S. Steel employees and the citizens of Ellwood City for over three decades. In late August 1950, in a financial move, the Shelby Building was sold to the Aetna-Standard Engineering Company for $35,000. Aetna-Standard used the building as an engineering and office complex. The Shelby Social Club continued its operations albeit in a smaller building formerly occupied by the Shelby Mill Hospital on the grounds of the Tube Mill. The Shelby Social Club remained in existence until U.S. Steel closed down its operations in Ellwood City in January 1975. Today, the Shelby Building is used by the city as the Ellwood City Children’s Center, a daycare and youth recreation center.

To read about when the Shelby Steel Tube Company filed the charter for the Shelby Social Club in March 1915 click on: CHARTER APPLICATION ARTICLE. To read about the charter being granted, but with a restriction on alcohol use click on: CHARTER GRANTED ARTICLE.

An old postcard showing the Shelby Social Club, which opened in 1917 for the recreational benefit of the “Tube Mill” employees.

The three-story recreational building housed an Olympic-sized swimming pool, a bowling alley, an auditorium, a cafeteria, and a basketball court/gymnasium. It was sold to Aetna-Standard Engineering Company in 1950 for use as an office building. (c1935) Full Size

The front of the old Shelby Building, which is still in use today as the Ellwood City Children’s Center. (Aug 2010)

There have been some slight modifications over the years – mainly to the front facade and the roof – but the building looks a lot like it did back in 1917. (Apr 2010)

The sign above the front entrance, which includes a drawing of the building. (Aug 2010)

The back of the building. The fire escapes on the side were not part of the original design. (Apr 2010)

A distant view of the Shelby Social Club that reveals its immense size. (Jul 2010)

A wintertime look at the old building. (Feb 2011)


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