The 100 year old ‘company town’ of Presston is located in an isolated corner of Stowe Township. There is only one way in and one way out. It is situated beyond an industrial area about two miles from the McKees Rocks Bridge. The community was filled with charming and well kept homes and people proud of their very tight knit historical community. When the row houses are situated 14 inches apart in some places it is difficult to not know your neighbors. Presston was the site of the 1909 McKees Rocks Strike in which 12 people died and several workers were evicted from their homes.


McKees Rocks Cultural Arts Center perfomance of Cinderella

The moment of discovery, Cinderella tries on the lost glass slipper during the McKees Rocks High School Theater Project at Sto-Rox High School Friday, April 25, 2008.

The Father Ryan Cultural Arts Center has been conducting a high school theater project at Sto-Rox High School since 2004. Each event provides students with an opportunity to perform as well as help raise money for the cultural arts facility now under renovation. In October 2008 the Father Regis Ryan Cultural Arts Center Building will open on Chartiers Ave in McKees Rocks, Pa. The new space will house a theater, dance studio and other artistic and educational facilities.

I started working in McKees Rocks in 2004 as a photojournalist/ documentary photographer on a Federal Community Outreach Partnership Center (COPC) grant. The grants link universities and distressed communities together where the educational and community assets of the university utilized to help lift the community.

The particular grant that I was a part of linked Point Park University and McKees Rocks, Pa. The university provided performing arts instructors and coordinated media and public relations. Point Park University possess both a high quality and diverse journalism program and well as a nationally respected performing arts conservatory.

The COPC grant officially ended in 2006, but I have decided to remain on as the official photographer for the project. I am responsible for documenting the educational programs, organizational events and building renovation and architecture.

See more of this project here.