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Millvale: Cultivating A Diverse Community


Mr. Smalls Theatre
Mr. Smalls Theatre

Millvale, that little borough that thousands drive by on Route 28 every day, is often a delightful surprise for those who take the exit ramp and visit. Many already know the wonders of Millvale.


“Millvale is special because of our community. We’re a borough of independent businesses strongly supported by locals and visitors alike. Even though Pittsburgh feels like a large ‘small town,’ Millvale is especially friendly and welcoming. People hold doors for each other and greet each other on morning walks,” Tony Theil, manager of Attic Records said.




Attic Records, like Millvale, has seen a good deal of change and growth, as well as hardships over the years. The Bohn family opened Attic Records in late 1980, because they were familiar with the area and found the perfect opportunity when a storefront opened along the main street, according to Fred Bohn, current owner.


“While some shops have closed through the years and families have taken root elsewhere, Millvale doesn’t seem to have changed much. The appeal of our town is that the good things stay the same; that’s the feeling we get,” Bohn said. 


Walking into Attic is a stroll into the history of both Millvale and music. Not only are there thousands and thousands of vinyl records from over the decades, but photos of stars of yesteryear. “We are very unique in the size and depth of our inventory, but there are so many promo photos that we received through our history,” Theil said.




Mr. Smalls Theatre also has a long history in Millvale. “The Theatre was built out from a building that once belonged to the Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh as the site of St. Ann’s Catholic Church in 2002. Our original business, Mr. Smalls Recording Studio, opened in 1997 and was located in Millvale on Grant Avenue,” Liz Berlin, co-owner, said. Berlin is also a founding member of multiplatinum band Rusted Root.


The concert venue and event space hosts national and local acts including music, comedy, theatre and more, all year round.


“Millvale is special in the same way so many neighborhoods and towns are in this region. It has a thriving and diverse artistic and business community, of which Smalls is proud to be a part. There are so many great businesses  and huge annual festivals like the Millvale Music Festival and Millvale Days,” Berlin said.


“And for us, Millvale has provided wonderful opportunities for growth and community building over the years; we love what it is continually evolving into. There is just a ton of great energy in Millvale,” she said.



Millvale Music Festival
Millvale Music Festival

Brian Wolovich, board president Millvale community development corporation, is quick to point out attributes that make Millvale special. “Millvale is full of residents, businesses and organizations that are working from the heart. Millvale is Love and we take care of each other through a blending of both the new and the more established folx who are real and honest,” he said.


Those in the region know that Millvale has faced challenges with floods over the years. When heavy rains caused concern in April, the whole community pitched in. “The amount of volunteer hours that are poured into taking care of each other is truly inspiring. That spirit was fully on display recently when concerns from storms saw the time, effort and care provided to individuals and the entire community by the Millvale Volunteer Fire Department Station 191, the Millvale Police Department and the Borough of Millvale,” Wolovich said. “No matter what, we all believe in the value of hard work, dreaming, caring, celebrating and creating together.” 


Wolovich detailed how Millvale has changed in the last decade. “We have welcomed new business and residents to the community, including a growing refugee population. We have deepened our community commitments to the Earth and our residents, old and new, through our working together to create a safe, vibrant, and sustainable community.”


The sense of community extends beyond the boundaries of Millvale itself, Wolovich explained. “We believe that the future of our region is in collaboration, and are excited to be working with our neighbors in Etna and Sharpsburg via the Triboro Ecodistrict collaboration. You can learn more about that initiative here: https://www.triboroecodistrict.org/,” he said.

One of the newer businesses in Millvale, Harold’s Haunt opened in late 2022 by the owners of Maude’s Paperwing Gallery, including Athena Lirael Flint. “Harold’s Haunt is a ghostly they-bar for spirits of all kinds. Run by queer witches, the Haunt features lots of witchy events, like rituals and full moon parties, and a lot of nerdy events too, like watch parties and board game days,” Flint said, “As a they-bar, we celebrate the trans and nonbinary members of the LGBTQIA+ community and hold space for all the folx who just want a cozy place.”



Harold’s Haunt
Harold’s Haunt

Flint echoed Wolovich’s sentiments about Millvale. “We have been involved in the  community for five years and are in love with the way Millvale folx support one another. Ask any of us about Millvale, and we’ll tell you all about the free fridge, the community garden, the free pantry, the tool lending library, and the amazing folx running an amazing youth program. Millvale is a beautiful example of people doing hard work to support and uplift their neighbors,” she said, “It is a mirror to the energy we want to infuse Harold’s Haunt with- building a community of love, support, and understanding.” 


Flint shared some news on their efforts to support the community of Millvale. “Harold’s and Maude’s have announced a project called Queer Resource Center, Millvale. The resource center will be offering programming like sober events, queer prom, queer coven, a femme community closet and more,” she said.


“We fervently believe what makes Millvale unique and special are the people who live here and the drive our neighbors have to uplift and support one another,” she said, “We’re all a little rough around the edges here, but that’s what drives us to stick together,” Flint said.


For more information about Millvale, visit:


Millvale Community Development Corporation: https://millvalecdc.org/

Mr. Smalls Theatre: https://mrsmalls.com/

Maude’s Paperwing Gallery: https://www.maudespaperwinggallery.com/

Queer Resource Center: QRC Millvale – Maude’s Paperwing Gallery (queerwitches.myshopify.com)


Millvale Celebrates Pride


Millvale Celebrates Pride
Millvale Celebrates Pride

June is Pride Month, a celebration to honor the LGBTQIA+ community. Pride Millvale was founded in 2021 by Patty Harpur as a small neighborhood festival, according to AJ Bee, co-organizer. “The support was overwhelming from the community, and the turnout was better than anyone had expected,” Bee said.


The next year, Cas and Kristi Hruska assumed the role of co-organizers and partnered with their now sponsoring 501(c)(3) organization MCDC (Millvale Community Development Corporation). “Pride Millvale grew the festival to an event shutting down multiple streets and featuring 70 plus businesses and organizations tabling, and 50 plus participating Millvale businesses. This year, Jasper Flint and I have stepped into the role of co-organizers in hopes of bringing another successful Pride to Millvale,” Bee explained.




Pride Millvale will be celebrated on Saturday, June 22nd this year, from 12 p.m.-8 p.m. throughout the borough. Local businesses and the community will host special events, sales and activities. “Our 70 plus participating vendors, small businesses and community organizations line multiple streets providing selections of wares, information, and resources. And in clearly making it an inclusive event, there will be ASL interpretation, a sensory friendly space, and kid friendly crafts and activities throughout the festival area.


According to Bee, the mission behind Pride Millvale is to create an annual celebration that is organized entirely by volunteers who work to create a safe, supportive, loving, fun, and inclusive event for members of the queer community and the allies who stand with them.


Pride Millvale is important to the borough and the sense of community. “Truly, supporting the queer community of Millvale is what it is all about. The visibility of queer individuals in Millvale is crucially important for the safety of the community and creating spaces where each individual can feel safe and comfortable being their most authentic selves,” Bee said, “While the festival is a single day, it helps to remind everyone that we are present and a part of the community of Millvale all year round and build a network of support.”


All community members are welcome to attend the free event, one that is created, organized, funded, and driven by volunteers.


For more information about Pride Millvale, visit:

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