Butler, Pennsylvania, has a 200-year history with blue-collar roots in the steel, railroad and automotive industries. The small town of 14,000 residents, named one of America’s best by Smithsonian Magazine, is located north of Pittsburgh.
Butler visitors can get their bearings with a trip to the Butler County Historical Society, which provides a good overview of the town’s historical and cultural merits. Among Butler’s many architectural attractions is the Lowrie/Shaw House. The home was built in 1828 by Walter Lowrie, the only U.S. senator to hail from Butler. It is now the site of the historical society’s gift shop and research library. Visitors can tour the restored house and museum on Friday afternoons.
The next stop on the tour of Butler’s historical buildings is the Little Red School House. The tiny school was the first built as a result of Pennsylvania’s Public School Act of 1836. It has since served as an office and public library and is now a museum that recreates the one-room schoolhouse experience for today’s students.
The cozy Cooper Cabin Pioneer Homestead is a quick but charming stop. Take a moment to see family heirlooms of the era and tour the spinning house, spring house and extensive herb garden.
Fans of modern pursuits will enjoy Butler baseball. The town rallies behind the BlueSox, a Prospect League team of college-level athletes who play from May to August. The team’s original Pullman Park hosted the likes of Joe DiMaggio and Lou Gehrig. That arena has since been rebuilt into a new multi-use stadium, open since 2007. Spectators can take in a baseball game and watch the stars of tomorrow in action. Jacke Healy was discovered here and drafted by the Houston Astros in 2010, and Kevan Smith was picked by the Chicago White Sox the following year.
Butler also has much to offer in the way of culture. The Butler County Symphony Orchestra has entertained locals and tourists for more than 60 seasons, mastering the works of Tchaikovsky, Puccini and Berlioz. The orchestra’s jazz trio hosts an annual Young Artist Competition to encourage excellence among musicians. Butler Little Theatre stages classic productions and original plays. Its casts and crews have been at work since 1941, making it one of the region’s oldest community theaters.
Eating and shopping options abound at Butler’s modern Clearview Mall, home to popular retailers and eclectic local favorites like New Dimension Comics. Deer Creek Winery even has a coffee bar and tasting room, where intrepid patrons can enjoy a wine milkshake.
For lunch, a popular stop is Element Cafe, a restaurant that serves organic dishes prepared from local ingredients. W. Rick's Taproom and Grill is the go-to restaurant for a filling and flavorful dinner. In this homey environment, diners enjoy standard American entrees with Italian flair. Cummings Candy and Coffee on Main Street is always a treat. Patrons enjoy the shop’s handmade chocolates and fair-trade coffees. The oldest family-run business in Butler, Cummings pays tribute to the past with its tasty old-fashioned chocolate malts.