Penn Township is located in the western part of Westmoreland County in Pennsylvania, approximately 25 miles east of the city of Pittsburgh and 7 miles west of the county seat of Greensburg.
Penn Township, officially referred to as the Township of Penn, was named after the founder of Pennsylvania, William Penn. Incorporated February 23, 1855, it was the twenty-second township organized in Westmoreland County. Back then, the township consisted of about 40 square miles of land and had a population of 2000.
Much of the population was of Scotch-Irish (Irish living in Scotland), German, and English decent. Settlers came to the area to farm its rich lands. Farmers grew grains such as corn, wheat, rye, buckwheat, barley, oats, and flax (which was used in making linseed oil and clothing). In addition, many farmers maintained orchards. Later in Penn Township’s history, coal mining contributed to the economy.
Penn Township’s first-class form of government started January 1, 1958. Being a first-class township, Penn Township is divided into five wards, with each ward electing one commissioner to the governing body. Penn Township has and operates its own police force, also a requirement of being a first-class township.
Shortly after becoming a first class township, Penn Township organized a municipal staff to run the township’s daily operations. In addition, it purchased land to build the current municipal building, on which construction was completed in 1961. Several additions have been made to the building, with most recent one being completed in 1994.
Currently, Penn Township is primarily a residential community of about 33 square miles, with a population of about 20,005. Some of the original township land was lost when the areas of Trafford, Penn, Jeannette, and Manor became their own municipalities.
Township government activities are handled by a board of commissioners, which is assisted by many other specialty boards and commissions. Daily township operations are handled by several full-time municipal staff employees. Penn Township’s emergency personnel includes members of the police department, five volunteer fire departments, and ambulance service. All emergency calls are handled by dialing 911.
Penn Township is split into nine zip codes and, as of February 1, 1998, two telephone area codes. While most of the township uses Western Pennsylvania’s newer 724 area code, Level Green residents in the western part of the township remain in area code 412 because their telephone numbers are Allegheny County exchanges.