ZIDER’S STORE IN LAUGHLINTOWN, PENNSYLVANIA
During my decade of living in Laurel Mountain Borough, Pennsylvania, I’ve often heard two questions about the red-trimmed blue building on the corner of the Lincoln Highway Heritage Corridor (Rt. 30) and Nature Run Road.
THE FIRST QUESTION
What is to become of what was once the community center of Laughlintown—why can’t someone purchase it and bring it to life?
Zider Store has found a purchaser.
The Progress Fund of Greensburg (PA) purchased the structure on June 25. It expects to rehabilitate the building and lease it to a small business, which will enhance the existing businesses—including the Pie Shoppe, Ligonier Country Inn, the Compass Inn, and the antique shops.
During my ten years living in Laughlintown’s Postal Service area I’ve heard the statement: The building is deteriorating so badly that it will be in an unrecoverable ruinous state before too long.
A sad state for a structure that was once the social center of town: a general store and the post office.
It’s been vacant most of the time since 1978, when the property was taken over by the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy. For a short time Frances L. Scaife operated an antique shop there. And for several years the structure was an outlet for Scituate Harbor 18th century furniture dealership owners from Wilkinsburg, Pennsylvania.
The building has electric, which needs to be updated. There is no plumbing other than a bathroom in a corner of the basement, which has a small water heating appliance for the sink, and a sink along the stone wall.
Lisa Hayes dates general store history in Laughlintown back to the 1870s. A member of the Armor family, which ran the Compass Inn across the street from the vacant structure, Lisa was told that Charles Armor started the store in the Compass Inn before the Zider Store structure was built.
According to a Ligonier Echo column, Looking Back, in October, 1911, Israel M. Ziders and his brother Elmer Ziders bought the general store on from Charles B. Hegan and John W. Darr.
Westmoreland Court records trace the trail of the Zider Store ownership from 1916 on (before that, the deeds become fuzzy and difficult, if not impossible, to trace).
A deed dated April 28, 1916, states that 9.1 acres was conveyed to Israel M. Ziders by Elmer G. Ziders and his wife, Helena Ziders. The property, valued at $28,000, contained a frame store building and a two-story frame dwelling.
According to a Ligonier Echo article dated February 1, 1946, Israel Ziders sold the business, but not the real estate, to Miles Buell.
A deed states that In February 1974 the Orphans’ Court Division of the Court of Common Pleas of Westmoreland County awarded Irwin R. Ziders of McKeesport and Charles A. Ziders of Rosemead, California, a parcel of land containing “a frame store building and a two-story frame dwelling,” from the estate of Israel M. Ziders. “The actual consideration for this conveyance is $65,000.00.”
On December 10, 1978, Irwin K. Ziders conveyed a portion of the property containing only “the old Zider’s General Store” to the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy. Ray Kinsey, Ligonier Township, recalls that, for a short period of time, Frances L. Scaife ran an antique shop in the store. Hayes said it was possibly named The Cat’s Tail.
The “old Ziders Store” was conveyed to Joyce Schwogel by the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy on July 9, 1992. No address for Schwogel is given on the deed.
In 1989 her husband Steve Slutzker, had fulfilled a lifelong dream by opening Scituate Harbor, a 18th century furniture dealership, in Pittsburgh. Both his name and the name of his wife, Joyce Slutzker, are listed on a flyer for the Pittsburgh store.
The Slutzkers rented “old Ziders store” and sold 18th century furniture, according to Laughlintown resident Terry Coyne.
In July 1992 Joyce Slutzker purchased “old Ziders Store.”
On October 27, 2004, pursuant to a decree of divorce, Joyce H. Schwogel, a/k/a Joyce Helene Slutzker, conveyed the property to Steven Slutzker a/k/a Shimon Gerson for a consideration of $1.00.
THE SECOND QUESTION
PART 2 OF THIS STORY WILL ANSWER THE SECOND QUESTION: WHAT IS THE STORY BEHIND THE RECENT OWNER OF ZIDER STORE?
Many local residents have questions about the current ownership of Zider Store. They’ve heard rumors that he is a convicted murderer, but from there the details are fuzzy.
In researching the story for a Ligonier Echo newspaper I was able to dig out much of the story.
THE ANSWER: Click on Zider’s Store in Laughlintown, PA. Part 2