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History of Fairview Park

South Fayette’s largest, most popular park created from former state hospital property

By Andrea Iglar

At 191 acres, Fairview Park is South Fayette’s largest park and site of the township’s biggest annual event, South Fayette Community Day.

Located in the southeastern corner of the township and known for its beautiful, expansive views, Fairview Park also is the community's most popular park.

It is home to athletic fields, sports courts, rental pavilions and open spaces—with improvements and additional amenities on the horizon.

An eagle perches over fields in Fairview Park.

An eagle perches over fields in Fairview Park.

Andrea Iglar

All the park property stems from the former Mayview State Hospital, a sprawling Pennsylvania psychiatric facility that operated under various names from 1893 to 2008.

In its heyday, the hospital complex included about 1,000 acres, 4,000 patients, 80 buildings, a farm, a coal mine and a post office.

Over the past 41 years, multiple land acquisitions from Mayview have combined to form Fairview Park.

Origins

Fairview Park officially was born Oct. 4, 1978, when the state donated precisely 12.378 acres of former Mayview farmland to South Fayette at no cost, under the condition it would be used for recreation.

However, it appears the township leased the property prior to purchasing it.

A 1975 engineering plan labels some property adjacent to the Fairview Manor neighborhood as an “area leased to township for Fairview Park by Mayview State Hospital.”

Additionally, when the park was being developed in 1981, a letter mentions “the existing backstop and nearby dilapidated play equipment area to be dismantled”—an indication that limited park amenities had been built while the township was leasing the site.

Ken Chambon, a longtime resident of the nearby Lakemont Farms neighborhood, remembers playing PONY League baseball at Fairview Park as a young teenager around 1966.

“The first existing baseball field was turned around; you hit toward the park entrance,” he recalled. “There were a couple old swings there too, nothing elaborate. So it’s come a long way.”

Entrance Pavilion at Fairview Park was built around 1980 and rehabilitated in 2018.

Entrance Pavilion at Fairview Park was built around 1980 and rehabilitated in 2018.

Colleen Patel

1980s

Once the deed was in hand, the township planned its first major park construction project: a picnic shelter (today known as the Entrance Pavilion) and one ballfield (now called Field A).

“This area if very densely populated and is in dire [need] of recreational facilities,” according to a 1978 grant proposal. “Money is needed to develop this park.”

A ballfield dedication in the 1980s.

A ballfield dedication in the 1980s.

File Photo

In 1980, South Fayette accepted a $50,000 matching grant from the state for the $100,000 project, which was built by the end of 1981. The new ballfield replaced the old backstop.

Restrooms were added in 1983, and later, a playground and courts for tennis and basketball.

Fairview Park also includes the tiny Lost Souls of Fairview Cemetery, a burial ground of patients who had died from 1913 to 1918 under care of the hospital, which at the time was called Pittsburgh City Home and Hospital. A monument there remembers the deceased.

Lost Souls of Fairview Cemetery in Fairview Park is a burial ground of  patients who died at Mayview State Hospital from 1913 to 1918.

Lost Souls of Fairview Cemetery in Fairview Park is a burial ground of patients who died at Mayview State Hospital from 1913 to 1918.

Andrea Iglar

Paula Willis, the township Parks and Recreation Director, said the cemetery is one example of the visible legacy of Mayview State Hospital.

“It’s important to preserve the history,” she said.

1990s

Around 1991, the township embarked on a lengthy process to expand Fairview Park by purchasing 110 acres of surplus hospital property.

The sale finally was completed in 1996 at a cost of $75,000—half the appraised value at the time—according to county and township records.

“It just gave an opportunity to expand Fairview Park to what it is today,” said Mr. Chambon, who served as a township commissioner from 1990 to 2002.

Today, Allegheny County lists the property’s total value at more than $707,700.

Construction of the pavilion, left, was completed by South Fayette Township Public Works in 2014.

Construction of the pavilion, left, was completed by South Fayette Township Public Works in 2014.

Andrea Iglar

That portion of parkland now includes a second ballfield (dedicated circa 2001), three multipurpose athletic fields, a dogwalking zone, natural trails, a playground and a large rental pavilion with restrooms (Public Works finished construction in 2014).

2000s and Beyond

Mayview State Hospital closed in 2008, and two years later, the private entity Aloe Brothers LLC paid $505,000 for the remaining 170 acres of Mayview property, including 39 abandoned buildings.

After tearing down buildings—which included extensive asbestos abatement—Aloe Brothers in 2017 sold 69 acres of the property to South Fayette Township for $1.1 million. The township’s cost was offset by a $395,000 state grant.

The land purchase increased the size of Fairview Park by 56 percent. Plans are in progress to develop the additional acreage, which includes a roadway connection with Mayview Road.

Public feedback has been accepted as part of the process of developing a Comprehensive Recreation Plan, which will serve as a guide to making future improvements at Fairview Park and other township parks.

In a survey last year, 47 percent of respondents said Fairview is the park they visit most often—making it the most popular park.

“There is so much potential at Fairview Park,” Ms. Willis said.

We’re excited to see what the future brings.