Frank B Fairbanks Rail Transportation Archive

James D. Van Trump Library | Frank B. Fairbanks Transportation Archive | Fairbanks Features

The Frank B. Fairbanks Rail Transportation Archive, located at the Station Square headquarters of Pittsburgh History & Landmarks Foundation, represents the realization of one man’s consuming passion. Mr. Fairbanks spent his entire adult life riding, documenting, and collecting material from rail lines all over the world. Starting in the 1950s and continuing to the end of his life in 2005, he logged nearly 200,000 rail miles traveled, a feat surpassed by few other people in the world.

Frank B. Fairbanks, Jr. (1930-2005) was a mechanical engineer and president of Horix Manufacturing Company of Pittsburgh. His precision-driven mind enhanced his ability to document his rail trips in a uniquely detailed fashion. The collection includes hundreds of index cards featuring his hand-drawn observations of track layouts found along his travel routes.

Among the many types of materials to enjoy in this collection are railroad history books, magazines, journals, pamphlets, brochures, and promotional novelties. There are also hundreds of timetables, railroad publications, maps, postcards, slides, posters, even a selection of dining car placemats! While Mr. Fairbanks was a trustee of Pittsburgh History & Landmarks Foundation, he donated these materials so other rail enthusiasts and transportation scholars could enjoy the fruits of a half-century of historical documentation.

O. Winston Link Photograph

Hours and Other Information The Archive is open by appointment on Wednesdays, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Use of the Archive is free to members of Landmarks. Non-members are assessed a $10.00 per person user fee. To make an appointment, email fairbanksarchive@phlf.org or contact Al Tannler (412-471-5808, ext. 515; al@phlf.org).

No part of the Archive can be borrowed, and there is no facility for copying information.

You may bring a digital camera and/or computer for your documentary needs.

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Farm Preservation Easements

Historic
Farm Preservation Program

From 1982 to 1997, 384 Allegheny County farms disappeared, resulting in a net loss of 10,000 acres of farmland. Because many of the lost farms were architecturally significant and more than a century old, the Pittsburgh History & Landmarks Foundation and the Richard King Mellon Foundation committed resources to address this issue in a cost-effective way. The result was Landmarks’ Historic Rural Preservation Program.

The Program primarily involves the protection of Allegheny County’s historic and/or architecturally significant rural buildings and properties threatened by commercial and residential development, primarily by placing easements on these properties that help to maintain the agricultural focus of the property or permit an appropriate adaptive reuse of the property.

The Program also informs farmers about ways they can realize the value of their historic farms without having to sell their property to commercial developers. Options include:

  • the sale or gifting of their farm development rights,
  • gifting the property to Landmarks in return for a life-income arrangement and
  • employing creative development strategies that allow the historic property to be integrated into a “rural-friendly” development.

The Historic Farm Preservation Program has played a significant role in the protection of five historic farm complexes and more than 1,000 acres of adjoining farmland.

Number of Allegheny
County Farms
1987
1992
1997
1000+
acres
5
4
1
500-999
acres
3
2
3
180-499
acres
45
32
33
50-179
acres
180
127
123
1-49
acres
218
173
174
TOTAL
451
338
334
Allegheny County
Farm Acreage
1987
1992
1997
42,686 32,526 26,944

Even In the Country, Protecting the Places That Make Pittsburgh Home (and Deterring Sprawl)

When Lucille Tooke gave her farm to a charitable remainder trust to benefit Landmarks in late 2000, she had no idea that her gift would lead to the creation of our Historic Farm Preservation Program and motivate a local foundation to make a major grant that helped us preserve five additional farms with historic buildings and more than 1,300 acres of farmland.

Landmarks believed that, like Mrs. Tooke, many local farmers were concerned about rising taxes and urban sprawl, factors that have played a significant role in the loss of nearly half of Allegheny County’s farms between 1982 and 2002. For multi-generational family farmers, we believed that planned gifts and preservation easements provided an alternative to selling historic farms to the highest bidder, usually a commercial developer.

A major local foundation granted $500,000 to us to find out if we were correct. By the close of 2003, Landmarks had added another $600,000 to that total and achieved the following results:

  • Used bargain sale and gift strategies to leverage the $1.1 million to protect numerous historic structures and accompanying land valued at more than $6 million;
  • Preserved 1,378 acres of farmland and four farms, three of which are listed on, or eligible for listing on the National Register of Historic Places;
  • Returned a 20-parcel subdivision to a single parcel next to one of those farms;
    Partnered with South Fayette Township to explore a “Smart Growth” plan that could become a model for adapting land and historic farm structures into a development plan that conserves the land and also farming;
  • Obtained a precedent-setting legal ruling that opened the door for Landmarks to assume a mortgage when commercial lenders refuse to subordinate their note to our preservation easement;
  • Provided The Allegheny Land Trust with a grant to underwrite closing costs on the purchase of a 212-acre parcel of land that was once part of several adjoining historic farms in Monongahela, PA, bordering the river
  • Made available to Allegheny County $15,000 for a revolving loan fund to cover reimbursable appraisal expenses for farmers who apply for the Agricultural Land Preservation Program of the Commonwealth; and
  • Generated significant publicity that notified farmers that they have choices beyond commercial development.

While Landmarks currently has no funding to purchase preservation easements, we still accept them by gift, and we remain committed to finding creative ways to protect historic farm buildings and adjoining land whenever possible. Owners of historic farms in and around Allegheny County are encouraged to contact Landmarks to discuss their preservation goals.

Commercial Preservation Easements
Residential Preservation Easements
Farm Preservation Easements
Eligibility
Contributions
Easement
Policy
(.pdf format)
Sample Facade Easement Agreement
(.pdf format)

For more information, contact:

Anne E. Nelson

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National Negro Opera House Nominated for City Historic Structure

On Monday, October 22, 2007, the Historic Preservation Commission received a nomination for 7101 Apple Street – National Negro Opera House to be a City Designated Historic Structure.

Nomination affords the property protection against demolition, and mandates that all exterior changes to the building be reviewed by the HRC.

These protections are temporary until/if the HRC, Planning Commission, and City Council vote to approve the nomination.

The Historic Review Commission will make a preliminary review of this nomination at its regular monthly meeting on Wednesday, November 7, 2007.

This hearing will be held after 12:30 PM in the Commission Hearing Room on the first floor of the John P. Robin Civic Building at 200 Ross Street, Downtown.

At that time, the Commission will make a preliminary determination about whether there is reasonable cause to believe that the nominated property will meet the criteria for designation listed in the preservation ordinance.

All members of the public are invited to attend.

Please feel free to call Katherine Molnar, Historic Preservation Planner, at 412-255-2243 or email Katherine.molnar@city.pittsburgh.pa.us if you have any questions.

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Vandergrift makes a comeback

Pittsburgh Post Gazette By Kate Luce Angell
Thursday, October 18, 2007
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Like many once-thriving Pennsylvania steel towns, Vandergrift, about 30 miles northeast of Pittsburgh on the Kiskiminetas River, is pretty quiet nowadays.

Last Saturday, it was the occasional car that passed through the business district, where several storefronts sat vacant. Under the shade of the century-old plane trees, the broad porches of the Victorian houses were empty.

But there were signs of life. A group at the Presbyterian Church was preparing a spaghetti dinner. The Vandergrift Historical Society was open to visitors.

And nearly 50 people were walking the streets for the Pittsburgh History and Landmark Foundation’s tour of the town once known as “the workingman’s paradise” that is now struggling to preserve a rich heritage and make a fresh start.

Built in 1895 as the new home of the Apollo Iron and Steel Co., Vandergrift once had a population of 10,000 and the largest rolled steel mill in the world, employing more than 5,000 workers. Today the mill, now owned by Allegheny Ludlum, employs 265, and the town’s population is around 5,000.

But while Vandergrift’s economic woes are common, the town, as the foundation’s tour revealed, is anything but.

George McMurtry, the owner of Apollo Iron and Steel, founded Vandergrift in the belief that workers would be more productive living in pleasant surroundings, with modern conveniences. He hired the firm of Frederick Olmsted, the designer of New York’s Central Park, to plan a worker-owned industrial community that would be “the best of the best,” in Mr. McMurtry’s words.

Mr. Olmsted’s firm produced a town that even today preserves a parklike atmosphere. With no corners, wide boulevards lined with trees curve into a business district accented by rounded brick facades.

For his part, Mr. McMurtry sold lots only to businesses and his own workers and offered free land, matching construction funds and a free organ to churches. He also donated land and funds for the Casino Theater, schools, the library and many other public projects.

Like other industrialists of his age, Mr. McMurtry’s philanthropic impulses went along with a strong profit motive: His lots for homes were expensive, and he owned the bank that offered the mortgages. One of the reasons he founded Vandergrift was to keep his mill nonunion, and he succeeded until the 1930s.

But Vandergrift became famous as a town where workers and their families could live the American dream, and the streets, lined with yellow brick, must have seemed paved with gold to some of the thousands of immigrant families who made their homes in the growing community.

As Vandergrift historian and tour leader Ken Blose pointed out, much of that brick now lies buried under crumbling asphalt. But a partnership of nonprofit groups is trying, with the help of local residents and business owners, to make Vandergrift golden again.

The Vandergrift Improvement Program, located in a small storefront on downtown Grant Street, is the local level of the national Main Street program, which works to revitalize traditional business districts by organizing local efforts, promotion of local businesses and attractions and economic restructuring.

Pittsburgh History and Landmark Foundation serves as VIP’s area coordinator. The program’s board includes local business owners and Vandergrift’s mayor, Lou Purificato.

Shaun Yurcaba, the local Main Street coordinator, said that even though VIP organized in January 2004, the groundwork laid by the program is just beginning to pay off.

“It takes a while to get started,” she explained. “We’ve been gathering information, coordinating volunteers and groups. We’re just beginning to work on business recruitment and retention.”

Already, VIP has sponsored events to help local businesses compete with “big box” stores and helped to secure funding for the refurbishment of the business district’s store facades, as well as holding community events like a recent Arts Festival.

In February, 200 Westmoreland County students will present their design ideas for turning Vandergrift’s abandoned J.C. Penney building into a new community arts center as part of the PHLF’s annual architectural design challenge. “Revitalization is a marathon,” said Mrs. Yurcaba, “not a race.”

As Mr. Blose pointed out, even before VIP, Vandergrift had residents concerned with preserving its past for a better future. “In the ’80s, they were about ready to tear the Casino Theater down. The roof was leaking, plaster falling off the walls. The Historical Society fought to save it.”

Today the Casino Theater is the oldest operating theater in southwestern Pennsylvania, and the refurbished three-story building, adorned with Greek-style columns, again hosts music and theater performances. It was recently designated the National Museum of Vaudeville in recognition of the venue’s importance during the heyday of vaudeville performance.

As Mr. Blose prepared to lead the Foundation tour group across Columbia Avenue, a group of young girls gathered on a nearby porch, curious about the crowd. “We’re on a tour,” he called out, inviting them to join in and “learn something about the town you live in.”

When the tour group moved on, PHLF executive director Louise Sturgess looked back at the girls and observed that helping a community recognize its own value was a big part of both the Foundation’s and VIP’s mission. “If they realize how special their town is, they’ll fight harder to save it.”

First published on October 18, 2007 at 6:27 am
Kate Luce Angell is a freelance writer.

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Anniversary brings special focus to Rodef Shalom building

Pittsburgh Post GazetteTuesday, October 16, 2007
By Patricia Lowry,
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Rodef Shalom Congregation will mark the 100th anniversary of its building and the 150th birthday of the congregation with an afternoon of lectures and discussions open to the community.

At the free event, titled “Historical Symposium: Honoring Our Builders and Building,” Brandeis University professor Jonathan Sarna will give the keynote address: “The Place of Rodef Shalom in the History of American Judaism.” Two panel discussions will follow. The first, on Rodef Shalom’s building designed by Henry Hornbostel, features Eliza Smith Brown, author of “Pittsburgh Legends and Visions: An Illustrated History”; Charles Rosenblum, assistant professor of architecture, Carnegie Mellon University; and Albert M. Tannler, Historical Collections Director of Pittsburgh History & Landmarks Foundation. The second panel will discuss the congregation’s builders and early members who made significant contributions to the development of Rodef Shalom and the Pittsburgh community.

The event will be at 1 p.m. Nov. 4 at Rodef Shalom, corner of Fifth and Morewood avenues, Oakland.

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Region’s historic districts draw homeowners with passion for preservation

Pittsburgh Tribune ReviewBy Bill Zlatos
TRIBUNE-REVIEW
Thursday, October 11, 2007

For some Western Pennsylvania residents, nothing glitters like old.

Many homeowners choose to live in residential districts listed on the National Register of Historic Places. That designation, granted by the National Park Service, covers 213 sites in Allegheny County cited for the significance of their history, cultural contributions or architecture — everything from dams and tunnels to churches and breweries — even the old county jail.

But some history buffs seeking more comfort than a pew or a cell opt for the nine historic districts in suburban Allegheny County or the 19 in Pittsburgh. Highland Park joined the list last month, and preservation officials in Mt. Lebanon are encouraging its residents to apply for that status, too.

Beaver County boasts five national historic districts; Butler County, three; Washington County, 12; and Westmoreland County, 14.

“The designation has helped stabilize the district,” said Louise Sturgess, executive director of the Pittsburgh History & Landmarks Foundation. “It’s helped show that preservation is a priority of people who come into the district, and they use the architectural significance of the houses to market the community and to create public events that really generate excitement about that area.”

Homeowners in the district can do what they want to their property. The designation, though, prevents federal or state funds from being used to harm the area without first going through an extensive review process. Tax credits for rehabilitating income-producing property are available.

Sandi and Ralph Anderson live in Evergreen Hamlet in Ross, the oldest residential historic district in Allegheny County. Evergreen was founded in 1850 as a nonsectarian commune — complete with its own school, dairy and orchard.

The Andersons’ board-and-batten Gothic home was built in 1852. It’s a massive frame structure of beige, milk chocolate and rust hues. It towers three stories high and is crowned with a tin roof.

“It’s an act of love,” said Sandi Anderson, 67. “You have the privilege of owning one of these.”

The Andersons have found gold as well as love in their old or historic homes.

They bought a Victorian home in a residential historic district in Oak Park, Ill., for $52,000 in 1974. They sold it in 1985 for $350,000.

Then they bought an 1850 stucco home in Oakville, Ontario, in 1985 for $535,000. They sold it for $1.2 million four years later.

The couple spent about $200,000 for their house in Evergreen Hamlet in 1989. They believe it’s now worth about $950,000.

Citing Allegheny West in the North Side, Sturgess said a historic designation helps boost property values.

“If you look at the city of Pittsburgh, the neighborhoods that have been listed on the National Register of Historic Places are thriving today.”

Other communities have found other advantages in the historic tag.

In 1980, a highway project linking McKees Rocks and Carnegie threatened the lower portion of Thornburg. Thornburg was established in 1909 and is noted for the eclectic styles of its houses.

Concerned about the potential demolition of their homes, Thornburg residents obtained historic status in 1982. The road project ended.

Jim Crist, 74, a lifelong Thornburg resident, had a personal stake in the outcome.

“Under one design,” he recalled, “if they went up that way, I would have been history.”

In contrast, Meg Alarcon was not aware of Thornburg’s historic status when she and her husband Robb bought a house there in 2001. “We wanted an old house and just liked the feel of the neighborhood,” she said.

No local place, however, has marketed its historic status like Kennywood Park in West Mifflin. The park is not only a historic district, but also a National Historic Landmark, a designation for places of national significance.

“Part of the attraction is the fact that it’s a National Historic Landmark,” said Carl Hughes, retired chairman of Kennywood, who applied for the status. “In other words, it’s not like everyone else.”

Kennywood and Playland in Rye, N.Y., are the only two amusement parks that are national landmarks, and Kennywood is bigger. Hughes said the listing helps attract local families, who feel pride in it, as well as groups such as the American Coaster Enthusiasts, the British Coaster Enthusiasts and the National Amusement Park Historical Association.

“Teachers like that sort of thing and we certainly like to make teachers happy because they bring the kids to the park,” Hughes said.

Bill Zlatos can be reached at bzlatos@tribweb.com or 412-320-7828.

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Mount Washington area tapped as nation’s best

Pittsburgh Post GazetteMonday, October 08, 2007
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Chatham Village on Mount Washington tops the American Planning Association’s list of top-10 Great Neighborhoods.

The APA recently debuted its Great Places in America program, which recognizes 10 neighborhoods and 10 streets for good design, function, sustainability and community involvement.

Local association member Kay Pierce, a planner with the Allegheny County Department of Economic Development, called the designation “a big plus for Pittsburgh.”

“It was built as affordable housing, [and designed] so that automobiles are on the outside,” said Ms. Pierce. The units face wooded courtyards that value the pedestrian, she said. “It’s what a lot of planners are starting to create: communities not focused on the automobile.”

Chatham Village, a National Historic Landmark, was built in 1935 in the “English Garden City” model, which grew from reaction against densely populated industrial centers. The English model was supposed to give city dwellers an oasis of green space away from noise and pollution but still in the city.

On the list of Great Neighborhoods, Chatham Village is followed by Eastern Market in Washington, D.C., and Elmwood Village in Buffalo. Under the APA’s Great Streets designation, Bull Street in Savannah, Ga., and Canyon Road in Santa Fe, N.M., topped the list.

First published on October 9, 2007 at 2:36 am

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Study: Move Point Park U. playhouse Downtown

Pittsburgh Post GazetteSaturday, October 06, 2007
By Mark Belko,
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

A panel of experts laid out its grand vision for Point Park University yesterday, one built around a move of the Pittsburgh Playhouse from Oakland to Downtown and acquisition of two prominent buildings to help transform the campus into an urban academic village.

In a presentation, the Urban Land Institute panel urged the university to acquire the One Smithfield Street building at Smithfield and Fort Pitt Boulevard and the YMCA Building on Boulevard of the Allies to help accomplish that.

The One Smithfield Street building would become the new home of the Pittsburgh Playhouse and an “iconic theater complex” that would serve as the university’s front door. The YMCA building would provide recreational space the university now lacks.

With the help of those acquisitions, the panel also recommended that Point Park create a “unique gathering place” for students along First Avenue filled with shops, housing, a student activity center and other amenities, the goal being to create a “hip yet secure space” to hang out.

The panel also saw the opportunity for limited retail opportunities on Wood Street, where most campus buildings are located and where Point Park could exert leadership in the corridor’s revitalization.

“Wow!” Point Park President Paul Hennigan said afterwards. “I guess we know what we’ll be doing for the next couple of years.”

The two buildings, if secured, would add to the university’s holdings Downtown, where it is already the second largest real estate owner with 14 properties.

No timetable or cost estimate was given for implementing the suggestions, but Dr. Hennigan said “there was nothing I heard or saw today that I thought was off the wall or unrealistic.” Point Park has made some $70 million in capital improvements in the last five years.

The university sought the help of the Washington, D.C.-based Urban Land Institute in planning future development. The eight-person panel spent the week in Pittsburgh and interviewed more than 120 people.

Dr. Hennigan estimated creating the kind of environment the panel envisions on First Avenue could cost about $20 million. Relocating the playhouse and building a new three-theater complex Downtown could run $30 million to $40 million.

The county is interested in selling One Smithfield Street and has asked developers to suggest how it would use the building and an adjacent parking lot.

Point Park has been looking at the YMCA building for more than three years. It hopes to decide within two months whether to pursue a purchase. The building is available because the Downtown Y will be moving to the old G.C. Murphy building on Fifth Avenue in late 2008 as part of the redevelopment of the Fifth and Forbes corridor.

The panel sees the acquisition of the One Smithfield Street and YMCA buildings and perhaps others on First Avenue as a way to increase Point Park’s visibility and to consolidate campus activity in the five-block area from Fort Pitt Boulevard to Forbes.

If the university can’t or doesn’t want to acquire the One Smithfield Street building, an alternate location for the theater complex would be the Fourth and Forbes properties, said Leigh Ferguson, ULI panel chair.

The panel emphasized that a key driver in the overall development would be housing. Point Park currently has roughly 750 beds on campus. Given projected enrollment increases, demand could rise to 2,000 beds by 2013.

On-campus housing not only creates a vibrant 24/7 environment for students, faculty, and others, but also would help to support retail shops, restaurants, bars and other activities, it said.

Panelist Belinda M. Sward urged caution, saying retail space Downtown now greatly exceeds demand with some stores at the risk of potential closing. Dr. Hennigan said the university found the retail information particularly helpful.

“What that says to us as we develop our space is not to jump the gun on the retail opportunity but to plan for it,” he said.

The panel also called for the creation of more informal outdoor and indoor gathering spots for students, improvements to Boulevard of the Allies, and street and facade renovations throughout the corridor, perhaps in conjunction with other property owners Downtown.

First published on October 6, 2007 at 12:00 am
Mark Belko can be reached at mbelko@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1262.

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Developer to raze former Workingman’s Savings Bank & Trust Co.

Pittsburgh Tribune ReviewBy Craig Smith
TRIBUNE-REVIEW
Thursday, October 4, 2007

Pittsburgh developer Lou Lamanna plans to raze a former North Side alcohol-recovery center to construct a new building for retail use.

Lamanna’s company, Bentley Commercial Inc., was the successful bidder Monday at a sheriff’s sale of the Alcohol Recovery Center House at 800 East Ohio St. The sale was requested by Fidelity Bank to recover $266,637.97 in mortgage payments owed to the bank, court records show.

Plans for the $5 million project are preliminary, and the structure could include multiple tenants or a single tenant, said Lamanna, 40, of Shadyside. He would not identify possible tenants.

“Within the next 4 to 6 months, we’ll level the building,” he said. That work could take longer depending upon the permitting process and because of traffic on East Ohio Street.

Bentley Commercial has constructed stores at Pittsburgh Mills in Frazer and Center Pointe and Stone Quarry Commons, both in Center Township, Beaver County.
Lamanna said he is seeking to acquire several buildings and lots on East Ohio and Madison avenues that were not part of the sale.

Community leaders had hoped the ARC building could be preserved.

“We’re disappointed to hear that. We would certainly hope to convince him otherwise,” said Mark Fatla, executive director of the North Side Leadership Conference.

The ARC building was built in 1901 to house the Workingman’s Savings Bank & Trust Co., according to the Pittsburgh History & Landmarks Foundation. Mellon Bank operated a branch office there until selling the building to the Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh, according to documents at Carnegie Library.

The diocese sold the brick building to Charles Cain for $1 in 1987. Cain operated the alcohol recovery program that at one point housed more than 100 inmates on work release.

In its heyday, the ARC House held about 150 prisoners who were assigned to work release by county judges.

Craig Smith can be reached at csmith@tribweb.com or 412-380-5646.

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Brentwood hotel to be preserved in art

Pittsburgh Post GazetteThursday, October 04, 2007
By Jim McMahon, Freelance Writer
Pittsburgh Post Gazette

Although the days of Brentwood’s historic Point View Hotel are numbered, a local artist with an eye for detail and love of history, has ensured that the images of the storied structure will remain.

“When I learned that efforts to save the building had failed, I knew that I had to make a recording of it to preserve its image and its important role in Brentwood history,” said Tom Yochum, 83, a lifelong resident of the borough.

Mr. Yochum has a close attachment to the popular bar and restaurant that had its beginnings in 1832 as a stage coach stop and later reportedly served as an Underground Railroad haven for runaway slaves headed for Canada. A number of future presidents, including Andrew Jackson, Zachary Taylor and James Buchanan are believed to have stayed in the hotel.

Mr. Yochum is an Art Institute of Pittsburgh graduate who managed to keep his artistic skills active during a 35-year career as a data processor at Mesta Machine in West Homestead. He honed his creative niche in retirement when he began to create pen and ink drawings of local homes and landmark architecture. To date he has done about 150 homes in Western Pennsylvania and has had his work exhibited.

He and his wife, Theresa, have three children, daughters, Lisa and Jackie, and son, Kim.

This spring he completed a drawing of the Point View, along with a likeness of what the structure looked like in 1939, the image copied from an old photograph provided to him by hotel owner Jim Vickless.

The historic hotel, at 3720 Brownsville Road, is slated to be demolished, and a medical professional building will be built on the site.

“The Point View was a great gathering place especially for local servicemen after the war,” said Mr. Yochum.

A World War II Navy veteran, he said the hotel, ”holds a warm spot in my heart.”

He said that Nick Andolina, the owner prior to Mr. Vickless, did a lot for local veterans and sponsored their sandlot baseball team.

Thanks to an arrangement with Dennis Luther, director of the Brentwood Public Library, the octogenarian’s artwork is on display at the facility where 13-by-16-inch matted prints can be purchased for $25 and nonmatted prints for $15.

The artist is donating a percentage of each sale to the library.

“The prints are just fabulous,” said Mr. Luther, who noted that four of the artist’s other local works, including one of the historic Davis farmhouse that was torn down and replaced by a fire hall, are permanently displayed in the library’s conference room.

Mr. Luther said that Mr. Yochum is an accomplished artist and a ”local legend for his pen and ink works.”

First published on October 4, 2007 at 6:17 am
Jim McMahon is a freelance writer.

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Vote set next month on historic status for theater

Pittsburgh Post GazetteThursday, October 04, 2007
Pittsburgh Post Gazette

The city’s Historic Review Commission expects to vote next month on a proposal to designate the Garden Theater an historic landmark. It heard public support for it — with no objections — yesterday.

“It’s a no-brainer,” said Greg Mucha, a member of the Mexican War Streets Society, citing concurrent planning for new housing, a new branch of the Carnegie Library and development proposals in the pipeline for a dozen or so properties that form the Federal Street-North Avenue corridor.

“We would like to see all of North Avenue become a historic district, and this would be an important first step,” said Steve Paul, executive director of Preservation Pittsburgh.

Dan Holland, founder of the Young Preservationists Association, said the Garden was overlooked in his group’s report last year citing 130 properties that should be protected.

The 91-year old structure, one of the last nickelodeon-style theaters in the country, was a porn theater for decades until earlier this year, when the Urban Redevelopment Authority purchased it after a lengthy battle of court appeals.

First published on October 4, 2007 at 12:00 am

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Tears accompany closing of St. Paulinus Church in Clairton

Pittsburgh Post GazetteThursday, October 04, 2007
By Mary Niederberger,
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

For the past 20 years, Isabel Lauterbach has volunteered her time to help clean St. Paulinus Church in Clairton, but she took extra care with last week’s cleaning.

That’s because it would be the last time she would dust and polish the church she has attended for more than 60 years.

St. Paulinus, a stone church that was hand-built by parishioners and community members in 1937, was closed on Sunday after a final Mass was held.

“A lot of people walked out in tears. A lot of people were taking pictures,” said Vince Gori, another longtime parishioner. He said between 300 and 400 people attended the final Mass.

Miss Lauterbach said although she was saddened by the closing, she understands the need for it as the congregation has continuously decreased over the years.

“There’s really nothing in this area for the young people, and they’ve had to move out,” Miss Lauterbach said. “I’m just glad there is still a church in Clairton to go to.”

Miss Lauterbach was referring to St. Clare of Assisi Church — the former St. Joseph Church — located across town.

Since the merged St. Clare of Assisi parish was formed in 1994, it kept two church buildings open — St. Paulinus and St. Joseph. Following the decision to close St. Paulinus, the Diocese of Pittsburgh last month renamed St. Joseph, St. Clare of Assisi Church.

Tight finances and a shrinking congregation in recent years prompted the parish to consider the closing. A parish committee decided after a long and detailed study that it made sense to close St. Paulinus, said the parish pastor, the Rev. Rich Zelik.

St. Paulinus, which sits on a hill overlooking the Monongahela River and U.S. Steel Corp.’s Clairton Works, is 30 years older than St. Joseph Church.

The parish committee determined that more money would be needed to maintain and upgrade St. Paulinus because of the building’s age and condition. It has no restrooms or air conditioning and is in need of roof repairs.

St. Paulinus Parish didn’t have enough money for a professional architect or builder in 1935 when the bishop gave it permission to build a church.

The Rev. Joseph L. Lonergan, pastor at the time, announced that the parishioners would build the church themselves.

The church was constructed with stone from the “nearby New England Hollow,” according to the church history.

The building committee studied the architecture of many European churches to come up with a design. “The works of Medieval craftsmen were copied in several instances,” church history indicates. That includes the bell tower, which was modeled after the towers of the walled city of Carcassonne, France, and the ciborium, a wooden canopy over the altar, which was said to be made of the wood from abandoned riverboats and decorated with designs copied from a cathedral in Sicily.

The church history said that “men and boys” made the ciborium, the altar railing, candleholders, sanctuary and sacristy.”

The women of the parish stained the church’s pews and are also credited with embroidering the altar linens and making the vestments for the altar boys.

The church was blessed on Sept. 6, 1937, which was Labor Day. The building was renovated in 1976 to accommodate changes in the liturgy.

Father Zelik said no decision has been made about religious items in the church.

He would like to see a nonprofit group operate the building as a community center. Mr. Gori hopes to get an historic designation for it.

Angeline Benedetti, who joined St. Paulinus in 1950, didn’t take the closing as easily as Miss Lauterbach.

“When it was announced in church one Sunday that it would close, I had to get up and leave because I was so upset. I still feel real sad about it. It’s such a beautiful church,” said Mrs. Benedetti, of Jefferson Hills.

Masses were held each Sunday at both sites during the first years after the merger created St. Clare of Assisi parish.

But in recent years, Masses were held at each church for six months of the year — during the summer months at St. Joseph because it has air conditioning and during cooler months at St. Paulinus.

Mrs. Benedetti said the church holds decades of memories for her. Her late husband, Elio, attended the church for his entire life, and his father, Alfred, helped to build it.

All of her five children were baptized and received their First Holy Communion there, and four were married in the church.

The St. Paulinus closing follows by one week the closing of Sacred Heart and St. Peter churches of the St. Martin de Porres Parish in McKeesport.

Those churches were closed with prayer services and a march between the buildings by parishioners, carrying banners that celebrated the ethnic heritage of each church, said the Rev. Tom Sparacino, pastor.

As with St. Paulinus, the closings were prompted by an aging and dwindling congregation.

“It was a day that was filled with so many mixed emotions. It was filled with sweet sorrow,” Father Sparacino said. “People are still hurting and will continue to hurt. But the reality is, we need to join around the altar as one.”

First published on October 4, 2007 at 6:19 am
Mary Niederberger can be reached at mniederberger@post-gazette.com or 412-851-1512.

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Historic preservation efforts honored in Westmoreland

Pittsburgh Post GazetteThursday, October 04, 2007
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

A group dedicated to interpreting the history of an important local highway, two individuals involved in historic preservation and the Westmoreland County Board of Commissioners were named recipients of the 2007 Arthur St. Clair Historic Preservation Awards.

Westmoreland County Historical Society presented the awards at the annual Arthur St. Clair Dinner at Greensburg Country Club yesterday.

Receiving the honors were the Lincoln Highway Heritage Corridor, a group that created the 200-Mile Roadside Museum; local history buff Glenn Smeltzer; Dr. Robert C. Wilburn, a Westmoreland County native and chief executive officer of Gettysburg National Battlefield Museum Foundation; and County Commissioners Tom Balya, Tom Ceraso and Phil Light for their commitment to the planned History Education Center at Hanna’s Town.

The 200-Mile museum includes roadside exhibits in six counties. The exhibits encompass such things as vintage gas pumps painted by professional artists, as well as 21 interpretive exhibits throughout Westmoreland County that tell the story about the Lincoln Highway during the years between 1913 and World War II.

Glenn Smeltzer was a physics teacher in the Hempfield School District but after retirement, the history of Westmoreland County became his avocation. He became an expert on the 11th Pennsylvania Civil War Regiment and other county history. He teaches continuing education classes at Westmoreland County Community College and is a member of the Baltzer-Meyer Historical Society.

Dr. Wilburn is spearheading the effort to raise $100 million to build a new visitors center for the Gettysburg Battlefield. He is a former CEO of the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation, former president of Indiana University of Pennsylvania and a member of the board of directors of Saint Vincent College.

The county commissioners were recognized because the board has supported the Hanna’s Town center from the beginning. The county provided seed money for the project and contributed to the capital campaign.

Thanks to the board, the county will provide regular maintenance, cleaning services, utility costs and insurance once the facility is built.

First published on October 4, 2007 at 6:14 am

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Turtle Creek at odds over future of aging school

Pittsburgh Tribune ReviewBy Brian Bowling
TRIBUNE-REVIEW
Thursday, October 4, 2007

The fight over East Junior High School in the Woodland Hills School District stands out from other consolidation battles because the struggle isn’t so much over where children will go to school but what will happen to the school building in Turtle Creek.

The Committee to Save Turtle Creek High School — the name the building once carried — has fought efforts to demolish and replace, or even significantly alter, the building.

Bob Mock, a member of the group, said the building defines Turtle Creek.

“This building is the most important building in our town,” Mock said. “It’s really the only park-like setting we have in our town. The whole town is built around it.”

The group achieved a milestone Aug. 30 when the National Park Service put the building on its National Register of Historic Places. Historic status doesn’t make the building demolition-proof, but limits how the district can use federal money to alter the school.

Linda Cole, a school board member, said East Junior High is deteriorating and the group’s opposition has kept the district from making the building handicapped accessible or otherwise modernizing the school. Getting the building on the national register just made matters worse, she said.

“They basically did this so we would not be able to remodel,” Cole said.

Although the district originally looked at renovation or demolition and replacement, the board voted March 14 to start the process of closing the school and moving students to West Junior High School in Swissvale. The board has scheduled a final vote on closing East Junior High for Oct. 10.

Cole said the board’s options have changed over the years because of declining enrollments. With fewer junior high students, the question isn’t how to replace an aging school but how to best educate the remaining students, she said.

Mock said annual test results show East Junior High is one of the few schools in the district that is meeting federal No Child Left Behind standards.

District spokeswoman Maria McCool said West Junior High School only failed to meet the standards with its special education students, so the two schools are practically even on academic achievement. The district’s analysis of the schools shows that West is in better physical condition, which is why the board is considering closing East.

Brian Bowling can be reached at bbowling@tribweb.com or 412-320-7910.

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Woodland Hills considers merging schools

Pittsburgh Tribune ReviewBy Karen Zapf
TRIBUNE-REVIEW
Thursday, October 4, 2007

A committee of Woodland Hills School District residents has recommended a single building for the district’s junior high students, currently being taught in two schools.
Committee members told the school board Wednesday night they recommend using either East or West junior high schools or constructing a new building. East Junior High is in Turtle Creek and West Junior High is in Swissvale.

The committee recommended reusing East Junior High if the board decides it should not continue to function as a junior high school. “The consensus is, please don’t tear it down and turn it into a parking lot,” said George Pike, a member of the committee.

The committee’s suggested uses include a magnet school, an administration building, community or senior center or selling the building to a developer.

East Junior High is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

The committee did not attach a dollar figure to its recommendations.

The group met four times in September to come up with a plan as to the future for the district’s approximately 700 junior high students. Both schools house the district’s seventh and eighth graders.

The school board is expected to vote on the committee’s recommendation during its 7:30 p.m. meeting on Wednesday.

Pete and Terri Rubash of Churchill, who have three children in the district, wanted a decision immediately.

“Get five votes and just do it,” said Pete Rubash, 48, who was a member of a committee studying the junior high situation two years ago. “You have a roomful of people at East Junior High who don’t know what’s going to go on.”

Rubash said a single junior high school makes sense. Rubash said he believes East Junior High, which is larger and has easier access than the other, is the best choice.

“It would balance the district so there is a (school) presence in the east and in the west,” Rubash said.

Karen Zapf can be reached at kzapf@tribweb.com or 412-380-8522.

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Walk To School: Busing wastes money and encourages sprawl and walking is healthier, anyway

Pittsburgh Post GazetteWednesday, October 03, 2007
By Thomas Hylton
Pittsburgh Post Gazette

Mass transit has commanded the headlines as Gov. Ed Rendell wrangles with two northwestern Pennsylvania congressmen, U.S. Reps. Phil English and John Peterson, over tolling Interstate-80 to raise more money for transportation, including $300 million more for urban transit.

Rural legislators say their constituents shouldn’t pay tolls to support buses and rail service in southwestern and southeastern Pennsylvania. Unmentioned in the debate is the state’s second- largest public transportation system — school busing.

Pennsylvania school buses travel more than 381 million miles annually at a cost of more than $1 billion. That’s nearly 75 percent of the cost of the state’s urban and rural transit authorities. Although the state provides about half the funding for both systems, school districts are automatically guaranteed a subsidy based on their aid ratio and miles traveled, no further questions asked.

For example, the Blairsville-Saltsburg School District in Indiana County recently announced plans to close its high school in Saltsburg Borough and bus those students an hour away to an enlarged Blairsville High School at an additional cost of $200,000 annually. Thanks to the state subsidy formula, district taxpayers will only pay $62,000 more. The commonwealth will make up the rest.

Generous subsidies for school busing are just one reason the number of students walking to school has plunged from 50 percent in 1970 to less than 15 percent today. In recent decades, hundreds of walkable neighborhood schools have been closed all across Pennsylvania, often to be replaced by sprawling mega-schools on the urban fringe.

These new schools spawn car-dependent development and drain the life from older communities. Statewide, the loss of neighborhood schools has been a major factor in what the Brookings Institution calls the “hollowing out” of Pennsylvania — disinvestment in older urban areas in favor of developing suburbs.

Alarmed by this trend, the state Department of Education and the Pennsylvania School Boards Association recently sponsored a new publication called “Renovate or Replace? The case for restoring and reusing older school buildings.” The booklet features essays by Gov. Rendell’s top cabinet officers, arguing that renovating older schools can save tax dollars, reinforce established communities and still provide facilities that meet 21st-century educational standards.

For example, state Secretary of Transportation Allen D. Biehler says Pennsylvania can’t afford to grow in the sprawling way it has in the past. Already, Mr. Biehler says, his department is short $1.7 billion annually to meet its obligations. “We need to cut down on excess driving by living and working in closer proximity,” he writes. “Walkable neighborhood schools are an important part of sustaining existing resources.”

A third of our children are overweight or at risk of becoming overweight, writes Dr. Calvin B. Johnson, secretary of health. “The fact is children could get most of the daily exercise they need just by walking 15 or 20 minutes to and from school,” he says. “And they would develop a healthy habit to serve them for a lifetime.”

The Mt. Lebanon School District is held up as a model. The district has not built a new school since 1963. Instead, it has renovated its two middle schools and seven elementary schools, most dating to the 1920s and 1930s, and will soon renovate its 1928 high school. The district’s architect estimates the renovated schools cost about 70 percent of the price of new construction, not including land acquisition.

In fact, a review of all school construction projects approved by the Department of Education in the last three years shows that new construction is nearly twice as expensive, per square foot, as renovations and additions, when total project costs are considered.

The No. 1 principle of green building design is to renovate and recycle existing buildings, writes Kathleen McGinty, state secretary of environmental protection. Renovations, she says, make the maximum use of existing materials and reduce demolition debris.

Thanks to its neighborhood school system, Mt. Lebanon enjoys among the lowest transportation costs of any district in the state. But its neighbor, Baldwin-Whitehall School District, has among the highest.

At one time, Baldwin-Whitehall had a substantial number of walkers attending neighborhood elementary schools like Mt. Lebanon’s. In 1984, the district consolidated its schools, going from 15 buildings to five, and began busing all its students. Today, Baldwin-Whitehall spends about the same, per pupil, as Mt. Lebanon, but dedicates nearly six times more money — $900 per pupil — to busing.

Today, Pennsylvania schools will join hundreds across the country holding special programs to celebrate national Walk to School Day. But you can’t walk to schools built in the middle of nowhere.

“Renovate or Replace” is a first step toward persuading school boards to think holistically when making school construction decisions. The role of public schools goes well beyond the education of our youth. Schools affect neighborhood stability, community character, student health, the environment and especially transportation.

If we want to revitalize our towns, protect our countryside and reduce transportation costs, retaining walkable neighborhood schools is a great place to start.

First published on October 3, 2007 at 12:00 am

Thomas Hylton, a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, is president of Save Our Land, Save Our Towns, a nonprofit organization that published “Renovate or Replace” with a grant from the William Penn Foundation (thomashylton@comcast.net). To download a copy, go to www.solsot.org and click on “Neighborhood Schools.”

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Neighborhood in Mt. Washington cited as one of nation’s top 10

Pittsburgh Tribune ReviewBy Jeremy Boren
TRIBUNE-REVIEW
Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Entering Mt. Washington’s Chatham Village is a bit like stumbling onto a soundstage built to resemble a quiet English country village.

That was the intention of its progenitors in 1935 when the Buhl Foundation and acclaimed “garden city” movement architects Clarence Stein and Henry Wright opened the urban oasis, which was recognized Tuesday as one of the top 10 neighborhoods in the United States by the American Planning Association.

The award didn’t surprise Claudette DeClemente, 56, who has lived in Chatham Village for eight years.

“I love it,” said DeClemente, a retired state welfare caseworker. “It’s very green. They take care of everything. There’s no traffic. And you can go on an extended vacation and everything is just as it was when you come back.”

Or better than it was. Construction crews yesterday filled potholes on private asphalt drives, trimmed ivy near some of the 200-year-old oaks dotting the neighborhood and cut the small front yards of the slate-roofed townhouses.
The nonprofit cooperative that each townhouse owner must join collects a monthly fee from residents who pay mortgages on homes that range from $80,000 for a two-bedroom to more than $200,000 for a four-bedroom.

The monthly fee pays for what DeClemente calls the neighborhood’s aesthetic uniformity.

Every street sign has a fresh coat of dark green paint, all front doors are the same color as the signs, as are awnings and porch furniture. Outside many homes are versions of Pittsburgh’s flag — with William Penn’s coat of arms — that are green and white instead of black and gold.

Those who don’t enjoy conformity shouldn’t move to the neighborhood, residents said.

“The only criteria that we have for people who want to become new members is that you are financially responsible,” said Tom McCue, 67, a retired mechanical engineer who has lived in a two-bedroom townhouse for nine years with his wife Patricia, since they moved from Albany, N.Y.

People with the means to pay a 20 percent down payment on their home can enjoy the neighborhood’s luxuries, including pristine tennis courts, two miles of walking trails and flower gardens.

“The only snow I have to shovel is from that door to the sidewalk,” McCue said, pointing to a narrow 10-foot-long walkway beyond his door. “The only noise we hear is the noise we make ourselves at neighborhood block parties.”

The village’s oldest resident is 92. Its youngest are the infants of some of the young couples who live there, McCue said.

Chatham Village had an advantage in winning its national acclaim from the American Planning Association. The association’s director, W. Paul Farmer, was Pittsburgh’s deputy planning director from 1980 to 1994, said Denny Johnson, an APA spokesman.

Roughly 100 nominations from people, planning departments and APA staff were whittled to the 10 top U.S. neighborhoods and 10 top U.S. streets. Chatham Village is the only one in Pennsylvania and among the smallest, with 216 residences on 25 acres.

Chatham was chosen based on characteristics such as functional design, longevity and community involvement — all of which make it “one of the jewels of our city,” Mayor Luke Ravenstahl said.

“Chatham Village is one of the best examples of how excellent planning and design has created a community that is as livable and desirable as it was when it was built 75 years ago,” Farmer said.

Jeremy Boren can be reached at jboren@tribweb.com or 412-765-2312.

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Symposium Marks Centennial for Rodef Shalom, Western PA’s Oldest Jewish Sanctuary

September 25, 2007

Historians and architectural experts will discuss Rodef Shalom Congregation’s landmark sanctuary listed on the National Register of Historic Places and its founders during “Historical Symposium: Honoring Our Builders and Building” on Sunday, November 4, 2007 as part of the sanctuary’s centennial celebration and the Congregation’s sesquicentennial observances. Free and open to the public, the community-wide symposium starts at 1:00 PM, at Rodef Shalom, corner of Fifth and Morewood Avenues in Oakland.

Professor Jonathan Sarna, a Joseph H. & Belle R. Braun Professor of American Jewish History at Brandeis University and Director of the Hornstein Jewish Professional Leadership Program will deliver the keynote address, “The Place of Rodef Shalom in the History of American Judaism.” Two panel discussions will follow. Elaborating on the Congregation’s historic building include: Eliza Smith Brown, author of Pittsburgh Legends and Visions: An Illustrated History, Charles Rosenblum, Assistant Professor of Architecture, Carnegie Mellon University and Albert M. Tannler, Historical Collections Director of Pittsburgh History & Landmarks Foundation. The second panel will discuss the Congregation’s builders and early members who made significant contributions to the development of Rodef Shalom and the Pittsburgh community.

Henry Hornbostel (1867-1961) who designed the century old sanctuary is well known for his designs of many national treasures including Pittsburgh’s Soldiers & Sailors Memorial Hall, Pittsburgh City-County building and nearby Carnegie Mellon University originally known as Carnegie Technical Schools.

A 1907 Pittsburgh Post article wrote of Rodef Shalom: “wonder in architecture… one of the handsomest temples for Jewish worship in the country.” It further describes the building: “In design, construction and workmanship, in decorations and in every respect the fine edifice is one of the proudest creations in modern architecture and building methods, being a composite of excellence in hundreds of details.”

The sanctuary’s most distinctive feature is its dome which was constructed in the Catalan timbrel vault style, indigenous to northeastern Spain using interlocking layers of thin tiles laid in mortar to create a lightweight, strong vault without the use of wood or steel beams. The Guastavino Fireproof Construction Company, which patented the Catalan vault, often collaborated with well-known architects such as Henry Hornbostel, who used Guastavino arches and stairways in a number of his buildings including the Rodef Shalom sanctuary.

Two contemporary assessments of Hornbostel’s Rodef Shalom Temple are offered by Franklin Toker and Walter C Kidney. Franklin Toker, an associate professor of architecture at Carnegie Mellon University in 1980, was instrumental in obtaining the designation of the Temple Sanctuary on the National Register of Historic Places. Professor Toker is quoted in “Historic Landmark,” which appeared in The Pittsburgh Press of May 25, 1980: The Temple’s sanctuary is one of the…first products of the Beaux Art movement in Pittsburgh…popular in the United States between1900-1935.

In Pittsburgh’s Landmark Architecture (1997), Walter C. Kidney of the Pittsburgh History & Landmarks Foundation– and the author of Henry Hornbostel: An Architect’s Master Touch (Landmarks, 2002) — described Hornbostel’s work on the Rodef Shalom Temple: “Hornbostel designed a quietly sumptuous interior of mahogany and gilt, focused on an ark in the Ionic order.” He went on to say, “Rodef Shalom has served two purposes well: as a dignified place of worship and as an ornament to an elegant neighborhood.”

For more information on the “Historical Symposium: Honoring Our Builders and Building” or tours of this community treasure, contact Chris Benton at 412-621-6566, or visit http://rodefshalom.org/who/history/.

The Symposium is underwritten in part by the Ruth & Bernard Levaur Contemporary Lecture Fund.

###

From June 2007 through May 2008, Rodef Shalom Congregation, the oldest Jewish congregation in Western Pennsylvania, as well as the largest Reform congregation, celebrates two significant milestones: the 150th anniversary of its charter by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, and the 100th anniversary of its landmark Fifth Avenue building. In 1885 Rodef Shalom leaders hosted the Pittsburgh Platform where members of the national Reform movement defined its first major tenets, marking the Congregation’s historic role in the development of Reform Judaism.

Throughout its history Rodef Shalom has been dedicated to observing and teaching Jewish values through inspirational worship, an emphasis on lifelong learning, active advocacy for social justice, service to region-wide human needs, promotion of interfaith dialogue and understanding, and encouragement of the spiritual and educational growth of its young people. For more information, visit www.Rodefshalom.org.

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Bedford golf course builds on famed architects’ designs

Pittsburgh Tribune ReviewBy Rick Starr
TRIBUNE-REVIEW
Sunday, September 30, 2007

The Bedford Springs Resort Old Course has been rejuvenated.
The classic 18-hole golf course re-opened in July as part of a $120 million renovation of the links and the 216-room resort and spa by Bedford Resort Partners.

“With four sets of tees on every hole, the course will challenge players of every skill level,” says golf pro Ron Leporati.

Golf at Bedford Springs goes back more than 100 years, so the first obstacle to restoring the layout was deciding which era to revisit:

= Spencer Oldham designed the original 18-hole course in 1895, complete with geometric bunkers.

= A.W. Tillinghast added a classic par-3 hole in 1912 that he named “Tiny Tim,” while taking the course to nine holes.

= Donald Ross expanded the course to 18 holes in 1923, adding several holes along Shober’s Run, one of the state’s Gold Medal trout streams.

The resort preserved the designs of all three famed architects, according to restoration specialist Ron Forse, of Forse Design of Hopwood.

“While we tried to maintain the visual character and the playing character of each hole from its original design, we also made a lot of changes to make it playable for today,” Forse says.

The course now features a state-of-the-art irrigation system, and Bentgrass fairways, tees and greens.

“We were restoring a significant piece of Pennsylvania history at Bedford Springs, at least as far as golf is concerned,” he says. “We’re very cognizant of the responsibility.

“It’s a balancing act to maintain as much of the design intent of the old hole, but still make it play as part of a resort course today.”

Because of modern driver technology, which ushered in the era of 300-yard drives, Forse moved several tees to bring hazards back into play.

Other changes, such as lowering the degree of slope on greens, were forced by advances in turf management and equipment.

“But we felt all along that if the course had a modern feel, it would have been a failure,” Forse says.

Forse is particularly proud of the restoration of Tillinghast’s “Tiny Tim,” now the 14th hole. Tillinghast considered the little hole one of his best because it brings a pond, creek, wetlands, mounding and tight bunkering into play.

“There aren’t many par-3s from 1912 left in Pennsylvania,” Forse says.

“Tiny Tim” was almost lost when the property was virtually abandoned in 1986 – just two years after the Department of the Interior designated its hotel and spa as a National Historic Landmark.

Forse had to rebuild two of Ross’ closing holes — using a 1952 photograph — because they had been converted into a driving range.

Forse says he’s constantly impressed with the strategic aspects of holes designed by Oldham, Tillinghast and Ross.

“Playing their designs never gets old, because they built alternate routes to the target,” he says. “They didn’t want golfers to take shots for granted.”

Bedford Springs Resort Old Course

Par: 72

Yardage: 6,795 blue tees, 6,431 white, 5,807 gold, 5,050 red

Greens fees: Resort guest, $105-125; public and tournament, $115-$135; twilight rate (after 3 p.m.), $70-90

Overnight golf packages: Starting at $355 per person, $470 per couple

Tee times: Required

Details: 814-623-8100 or www.bedfordspringsresort.com

Rick Starr can be reached at rstarr@tribweb.com or 724-226-4691.

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Bedford Springs Resort returns to its roots

Pittsburgh Tribune ReviewBy William Loeffler
TRIBUNE-REVIEW
Sunday, September 30, 2007

Even the U.S. presidents who stayed here didn’t have it this good.
During its 200-year history, the Bedford Springs Resort has played host to Presidents James K. Polk, William Taft and Dwight D. Eisenhower. Not to mention author Nathaniel Hawthorne, manufacturer Henry Ford and nine Supreme Court justices.

They were drawn by the resort’s rustic serenity and the reputed medicinal benefits of its seven natural mineral springs. These waters were also known to the Indian tribes in the region’s frontier days, when Bedford was a British stronghold in the French and Indian War, and later, a headache for the fledgling U.S. government during the Whiskey Rebellion.

Today, the Bedford Springs resort rises, reborn, an elegant Greek revival redoubt nestled in the Allegheny Mountains, in Bedford County.

The resort, parts of which date to 1806, reopened July 12 after a $120 million restoration. An easy two-hour drive from Pittsburgh, Bedford Springs pays tribute to its past while providing modern spa service, fine dining and a range of outdoor activities on its 2,200 acres, including 25 miles of trails, a golf course and a gold-medal trout stream.

Exit the turnpike and drive four miles through the antique shops and apothecaries of Bedford. Outside of town, the mountains press against the road. Round a curve, past beds of blooming black-eyed Susans, swoop down a small hill, and — wham — the panorama spreads out before you. Strung across the landscape is a columned palace with manicured lawns and a circular drive blooming with formal gardens. It’s easy to see why the place served as the summer white house for U.S. President and Pennsylvania native James Buchanan.

Bedford Springs wears its historical pedigree proudly. Above the front desk hangs a vintage 39-star American flag. Visitors will discover a soothing warren of fireplaces, graceful curving banisters and long hallways carpeted in restful sage green. But modern amenities haven’t been forgotten. Each of the 216 rooms and suites features a 32-inch flat-screen TV, Egyptian bed linens and i-Pod. Wi-fi access is available throughout the resort.

The resort was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1984 before closing two years later. It defied eight attempts to get it up and running again, says Todd Gillespie, director of sales and marketing.

The property was purchased and developed by Bedford Resort Partners, who include the Ferchill Group of Cleveland, Chevron TCI, and the Bedford Springs Company. The resort was restored to its 1905 incarnation.

“It had to be built back to the way that it looked in 1905,” Gillespie says. “There were very specific criteria we had to meet.”

Restoration efforts included removing sediment from the Shobers Run Creek, where guests can fly fish. The golf course was restored to its original design. Workers also removed, cleaned and replaced the original glass window panels of the hotel. Several bear the etchings of brides who were married there.

“When people would get married here, it was traditional to etch their names in the glass to prove that their diamonds were real,” says Cheryl Funk, marketing manager.

One inscription, in a window near the clubby, masculine library, reads “B.T. Warren, August 23, 1892.”

Bedford Springs is planning to revive that tradition for future weddings, Funk says, but will provide an etching pen to forestall embarrassment to a bride who gets stuck with cubic zirconium.

Today, “taking the waters” means surrendering to the luxurious ministrations of the staff at the brand-new Springs Eternal Spa.

First is a plush Terricloth robe and sandals, followed by a shower with ginger black walnut body scrub, one of the spa’s extensive line of personal care products, most made using local botanicals. Sink into a hot tub fed by an eighth spring, which was discovered during the renovations. Then dip into the cold plunge pool. Repeat, then repair to the aroma therapy steam. Don the robe, then wait in the lounge, with its view of the flower gardens, and sip Orchid Oolong tea and munch fruit and nuts. Then it’s time for a massage.

Rates range from $249-$299 per night, based on views, day of week and seasonality. Spa suites start at $309.

The restaurants on the premises include the Crystal Dining room, with the original crystal chandeliers, gilt framed mirrors, wood floors and four hues of blue.

Enjoy an Angus beef filet and a glass of Rodney Strong Cabernet and contemplate the period photos of the resort’s guests from the previous century, taking their ease in boaters and bustles. After dinner, gather at the fire pit on the grounds or sit in one of the vintage rocking chairs on the balcony.

Athletes can run, kayak, hike or rent bikes made by Cannondale, which operates a factory in nearby Bedford and has offices in Europe and Asia. Cannondale has provided cycles to competitors in the Tour de France.

Guest Marsha Miller, concluding her stay the resort, summed up its appeal: “What I really enjoyed about it was that it’s got all this history and tradition, but it’s modern.”

Resort highlights

• The Crystal Dining Room has an exhibition kitchen and rotisserie and a 1,500-bottle wine cellar. It includes the Daniel Webster room, named for one of the resort’s celebrated guests, which is reserved for private dining.

• The Frontier Tavern is in the Stone Inn, which was a stagecoach stopover for travelers. Guests can enjoy trout club sandwiches, billiards, micrwobrewed beer or a cigar from the well-stocked humidor. Artifacts on display include an old wood stove, crockery and a bear trap. After dark, step outside and pass the time by the fire pit, just as guests did 100 years ago.

• The 1796 Room, which features fine dining in an upscale 18th-century ambience, puts a 21st-century twist on American colonial cuisine. Dishes include venison, bison, rabbit, quail, wild boar, game pie and mountain trout.

• The Springs Eternal Spa is a 30,000-square-foot addition to the resort and features wet and dry treatment rooms, a private spa garden, mineral springs, couple’s treatment, aromatheraphy, facials and massage. It also features a boutique shop with a line of personal-care products, many made using local botanicals and minerals.

• Activities include trout fishing in Shobers Run Creek, 25 miles of hiking and biking trails and an indoor fitness facility. The spring-fed indoor pool area has been restored to its original 1905 state, right down to the orchestra pit on the second story, where string quartets used to serenade bathers. The outdoor pool complex includes private cabanas. Resort Rascals, a children’s activity center, will open soon.

• The restored 18-hole golf course, one of the first to be built in America, has old-growth trees. Refreshments will be available at the Half Way House, which will be near the 10th green.

• Banquet catering is available for the 20,000-square-foot conference facility.

Did you know? During World War II, the U.S. Department of State used the Bedford Springs Hotel as a U.S. Naval communications training center until 1945, remodeling hotel facilities, including the convention hall, to accommodate more than 7,000 Navy personnel. In 1943, the posh retreat also housed 200 Japanese diplomats and their families detained after the fall of Germany. Guests of the United States, they later were exchanged for captured American POWs in Asia.

If you go
Where: Bedford Springs Resort, 2138 Business Route 220, Bedford
Details: 814-623-8100

William Loeffler can be reached at wloeffler@tribweb.com or 412-320-7986.

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Southminster church windows being restored

Pittsburgh Post GazetteBy Erin Gibson Allen
Pittsburgh Post Gazette
Thursday, September 27, 2007

Enter Southminster Presbyterian Church, in Mt. Lebanon, and you’ll see two stained glass windows on either side of the main door that welcome visitors “… into the house of the Lord.”

In the spacious sanctuary you will see a large stained glass window, known as the Chancel Window, depicting images of Jesus Christ.

Sit down to pray and you’ll notice more large windows to the left and right in the transepts, referred to as the Parable Window and the Miracle Window. These contain Biblical images rendered predominantly in cobalt blue. Smaller windows line the outer edges of the pews.

On your way out, you’ll see the Great Commission Window, which, among depictions of the disciples, tells the visitor to “… make disciples of all nations, and lo I am with you always.”

These coordinated images done in stained glass were the vision of Dr. Calvin Reid, the fourth pastor of the church. The church was built in 1928 and the windows started going in after WWII, but were not finished until 1963.

Now those windows are getting a meticulous face lift.

Various church families and groups funded the initial cost of the windows, designed by Pittsburgh Stained Glass Studios, D’Ascenzo Studios, and Willet Studios.

An evaluation in 2005 revealed that the windows now suffer from planar deflection, which means that the lead material between the glass pieces has weakened over time, causing the windows to curve and bulge.

The Miracle Window, facing south, was in the worst condition and is being completely refurbished in the first phase of repair.

“The real miracle is that the window didn’t crash onto Castle Shannon Boulevard,” said Carla Campbell, a church trustee working on the window project.

The Miracle Window is the largest part of the renovation effort, costing about $80,000. Small “vent” windows, which open to the outside, are also being repaired, costing about $1,500 each.

Juxtaposed to the sanctuary is a chapel, with more stained glass windows, several of which are also being repaired.

Stained Glass Resources in the West End is repairing the windows under the supervision of Kirk Weaver, a vice president of the company and Southminster member.

Mr. Weaver, who has been working with stained glass his entire life — his father and grandfather were in the business — explains that techniques used today are much the same as they have always been. Work is still done by hand by craftsmen using the same tools and techniques that the original artist would have used.

Restoring stained glass windows is tedious and time consuming. Mr. Weaver estimates that this project will take about 2,000 manhours.

The most difficult part of the job is removing the windows. “You don’t really know how strong the panels are until you get them down,” he said. Workers must be precise and careful so as not to damage any of pieces as they are removed.

After the window is disassembled, one section at a time, a full-sized rubbing of the window is made, using brown paper layered with carbon paper. This allows the craftsmen to reassemble the window, exactly as it was, using new lead, and after cleaning each hand-blown piece of glass.

Working on church windows adds pressure to the job, Mr. Weaver said. “The church has served as a good steward of these works of art, and now it is my turn. It is an awesome responsibility.”

The Great Commission Window contains small images of local interest worth searching for. Hidden in this window is a Bessemer furnace, used to produce carbon steel in the area’s historic steel days.

The church hopes to have the windows back, good as new, in time for Christmas. After being refurbished, the Miracle Window “should outlast any of the members,” Mr. Weaver said.

A majority of the funding for the window repair will be covered by member donations. In June, the church received designation as a historic landmark with the Pittsburgh History and Landmarks Foundation. The Foundation provided the church with a $5,000 matching grant to help fund the window restoration.

The church envisions repairing the remaining windows in two additional phases as their condition deteriorates and as funds allow.

Southminster is an active church, with approximately 1,500 members and numerous outreach programs. The church offers a preschool, daycare, and operates the South Hills Food Pantry. As a member of the Interfaith Hospitality Network, Southminster provides meals and overnight accommodations to homeless families one week at a time, on a rotating basis. Many local groups use the church for meeting space.

A visitor in the sanctuary also may notice woodcarvings recalling the disciplines of daily life (labor and education, for example) lining the chancel. These carvings were done in 1989 by sculptor Hugh Watkins, a church member and Mt. Lebanon native.

Perhaps the most distinctive feature of the church, however, is better heard than seen. Inside the sandstone tower atop the church are eight bells. Six of these bells came from a church in Preston, England, whose tower became too weak to hold the heavy bells, which range in weight from 500 to 1,000 pounds. A foundation in England works to find churches that can use abandoned bells. Four of the bells were built in 1814, two others in 1934, and two in 2000. The bells were dedicated at Southminster in October of 2002.

It takes 8 people, pulling on ropes, to ring the bells, explained Richard Pinkerton, the minister of music. Mr. Pinkerton believes that church’s tower is one of only 45 in North America to have active full-circle ringing bells like these. Most church bells are either not active or are run mechanically, he said.

The tower is known as the “Peace Tower” because the word peace is engraved in two different languages (for a total of 16 languages) on opposite sides of each bell.

Both the windows and the bells serve as evidence that sometimes doing things by hand, in the same tradition as they have been for hundreds of years, creates the most inspiring results.

The bells can be heard on Thursday evenings, Sunday mornings, and special occasions.

For more, call the church, at 412-343-8900.

First published on September 27, 2007 at 6:45 am
Erin Gibson Allen is a freelance writer.

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Residents hope historic ‘label’ will save school

Pittsburgh Post GazetteThursday, September 27, 2007
By Judy Laurinatis,
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

When the old Turtle Creek High School was placed on the National Register of Historic Places late last month, the people who love the building that now is East Junior High cheered.

Now they hope the historic designation will help convince the Woodland Hills School Board that the building should be protected and, if not used by the school district, at least sold to someone who will appreciate it.

Razing the building is one of several options before a board coping with declining population and deteriorating buildings. East Junior High has just 272 pupils in a building that has the capacity of 617. The building once held 2,000 pupils.

On Wednesday, the board will hear what an ad hoc committee appointed by the school board believes should be done with the building constructed in 1917 and occupied as Union High School in 1918. The board is expected to vote on the recommendation at its Oct. 10 meeting. Meetings begin at 7:30 p.m. and are held in the administration building on Greensburg Pike.

Among the options the committee will propose, panel members said, are selling the building to a college or university to be used as a satellite campus; turning it into a performing arts high school for the Eastern suburbs; or selling it to another entity sometime in the future.

A school reorganization plan involving closing East Junior High and moving those students to West Junior High was presented to the school board in August by HHSDR/Architects and Engineers of Pittsburgh.

The architects deemed East in poor condition overall with a number of specific problems cited. They included deterioration on the exterior terra cotta embellishments and concrete beams and a brick facade in need of repointing. The basement has water damage, swimming pool pumps are in bad shape and the stage needs to be upgraded.

Still, Turtle Creek Councilwoman Jill Henkel said, “It identifies the town.” She graduated from the school and lived through a big renovation of the building in 1977 when she was a student.

But in 2005, the school board looked at some options for the building, including tearing it down. That consideration rallied townspeople who came out by the hundreds in support of keeping it.

The loss of the building would be a blow to the town, Ms. Henkel said this week. Its history is tied to the history of the Turtle Creek and at least one of Turtle Creek’s “firsts.”

For instance, the high school was the site of the state’s first school district merger, she said.

The class of 1919 was the first graduating class from the school and had students from Wilmerding, East Pittsburgh and Turtle Creek attending. The mixed student body is why it was named Union not just Turtle Creek High School, she explained. The high school name reverted back to Turtle Creek when Wilmerding students began attending their own high school in 1940.

But that isn’t all, said Ms. Henkel and Bob Mock, another resident and save-the-school supporter.

Turtle Creek, a town of 6,000 people, doesn’t have an actual public park. The green space Turtle Creek does have is the campus of the old school, and it’s a most popular spot for residents on sunny weekend afternoons, Mr. Mock said.

The auditorium is also a centerpiece for the school and for the borough.

“Tony Bennett performed there in the 1940s,” Mr. Mock said.

Ron Yochum, Pittsburgh History and Landmarks Foundation chief information officer, said the National Register designation is an honor but restricts owners only in certain ways. For instance, if federal funds are to be used to rehabilitate the building, certain guidelines issued by a board of review must be followed. Otherwise, the owner is still in control.

“They could do a tear down or sell it,” Mr. Yochum said. Mostly though, owners will find that “very valuable tax credits” for renovation work will accompany historic designation status, and a building’s value may actually increase.

First published on September 27, 2007 at 6:27 am
Judy Laurinatis can be reached at jlaurinatis@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1228.

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Downtown forum focuses on vacant, abandoned properties

Pittsburgh Tribune ReviewBy Justin Vellucci
TRIBUNE-REVIEW
Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Where some curse the sight of vacant homes, boarded-up shops and weed-choked yards, Arthur P. Ziegler Jr. sings of opportunity.
On Monday, the president of Pittsburgh History & Landmarks Foundation spoke with about 620 elected leaders and development officials who gathered Downtown to help share and expand that vision during a two-day national conference on vacant and abandoned properties.

“Vacant properties are a big problem in older cities and we look upon them, often, as a major resource for revitalization,” Ziegler said as he prepared to enter a session at the Omni William Penn Hotel. “We’re here to learn about what other cities are doing and what other solutions they’ve found.”

Participants’ name tags read like a who’s who of America’s post-industrial Rust Belt, with representatives attending from Cleveland, Buffalo, Detroit and Youngstown, Ohio, among others. But, each city’s take on dealing with blighted homes, population loss and neighborhood disinvestment seemed to unite them.

“This is really the place where the ‘do-ers’ in different communities can come together,” said Don Chen, executive director of Smart Growth America.
“If there’s one message, the one message is: ‘No one can solve this problem on their own,’ ” said Joseph Schilling, a Virginia Tech professor who served on the conference’s executive committee.

But what, specifically, could Pittsburgh officials glean from the National Vacant Properties Campaign’s first national conference?

Chen and Schilling said they could learn to preserve neighborhoods and aging infrastructure by following the successful steps Philadelphia took in its Neighborhood Transformation Initiative.

Pittsburghers also could benefit, they said, from studying Youngstown, which aggressively tackled abandoned properties through its Youngstown 2010 plan. Or the city could look closely at Richmond, Va., which helped rebuild six targeted communities through its Neighborhoods In Bloom program.

Greater Pittsburgh has plenty to teach leaders from other communities, participants said. Several talked about development of former industrial and waterfront sites, while Chen praised Mayor Luke Ravenstahl’s buyback of more than 11,000 tax liens as “very exciting.” Ravenstahl helped kick off the event with a welcome speech.

The excitement in Pittsburgh and its recent designation as “America’s Most Livable City” were actually part of the reason the conference came to town, said Jennifer Leonard, director of the National Vacant Properties Campaign.

“It’s a good showplace for cities similar to it,” Leonard said. “It’s a city with problems. But it’s also a city looking for solutions.”

Justin Vellucci can be reached at jvellucci@tribweb.com or 412-320-7847.

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Landmarks Architecture Design Challenge project in downtown Vandergrift

September 24, 2007

Pittsburgh History & Landmarks Foundation (Landmarks) has selected Vandergrift as the host community for its 12th annual Architectural Design Challenge for over 150 Westmoreland County middle school and high school students.

On September 26 and 27, members of the community will lead students on a tour to learn about the town’s history, unique architecture, and downtown revitalization plans. They will also study their project site which is the vacant building located at 134 Grant Avenue, this building will be the focus of the students’ design challenge. Once back at school, students will work in teams, over a five-month period, to create potential design solutions for rehabilitating 134 Grant Ave. into a “Galleria” Arts Center.

In February 2008, the students will return to Vandergrift to present their proposed designs and models to the community and to a selected panel of critics which will include architects. Student presentations will include drawings and models illustrating their designs for the building addressing the program for the proposed Arts Center.

The Vandergrift Improvement Program, Inc. (V.I.P) is excited about having the students work on the Design Challenge project in Vandergrift. “We look forward to seeing what the students will design for the former JC Penny’s building. This is a great opportunity for students to create design solutions that could actually get incorporated in the revitalization efforts,” says Shaun Yurcaba, Main Street Manager.

Through this project the students will learn about the architectural design process by having a real building to work with, a hypothetical proposed Arts Center, and a set of design guidelines to follow. The Architecture Design Challenge will teach younger generations about the value of small towns, historic architecture, and preservation.

Landmarks has numerous educational programs for students and teachers featuring local history and architecture. Using the environment as a classroom, students learn about local history, historic architecture, preservation, and revitalization. Landmarks’ also offers educational resources including in-school programs and field trips. Visit www.phlf.org for more information.

The V.I.P. on site Main Street Manager is Mrs. Shaun Yurcaba, of Landmarks. The V.I.P. has selected PHLF to manage the main street revitalization efforts, working closely with the Landmarks staff, specifically with Arthur Ziegler, President, and Eugene Matta, Director of Real Estate and Special Development Projects.

The V.I.P. is a non-profit organization composed of local residents, businesses, and local and state government officials. The V.I.P. is a designated Main Street community funded in part by the Department of Community and Economic Development.

The V.I.P. is dedicated to the protection, preservation and restoration of Vandergrift by using a four-point approach that focuses on organization, economic restructuring, promotion, and design of the central business corridor as well as the residential areas of Vandergrift.

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Vandergrift Main Street Community Receives Award for Retail Promotion

September 24, 2007

The Vandergrift Improvement Program, Inc. (V.I.P.) received a “Townie Award” for the “Vandergrift Pet Photo Contest and Calendar” from Pennsylvania Downtown Center (PDC) at the PDC’s statewide annual conference in Bethlehem, PA, which was June 3-5, 2007.

The “Townie Awards” is an annual awards ceremony facilitated by PDC, which works with over 300 member communities from across the state, 77 of which are currently in the Main Street program. The “Townie Awards” is an opportunity for Main Street programs to submit their most successful revitalization projects implemented in their community.

The Vandergrift Pet Photo Contest and Calendar won “Best Retail Promotion” for that category competing against 77 other communities from across the Commonwealth. This is the 17th year that the “Townie Awards” have been implemented.

“The Townie Awards are very competitive”, says Suzanne Gagliardo, Western Coordinator for PDC, “I’m surprised and impressed that such a young Main Street community like Vandergrift and the V.I.P. won best out of the retail promotion category. They were up against many terrific retail promotions from other more established PA communities.”

The Vandergrift Pet Contest and Calendar was selected for the “Townie Award” as “Best Retail Promotion” for its creativity and successful implementation that brought over 4000 people into the commercial district over the course of two months to submit their pet photos and then to cast their vote for their favorite pet photo. This effort brought people into participating downtown businesses and helped to build awareness about the historic downtown. Sherry Jenks, who serves on the VIP Board and on the Promotions Committee, conceived the idea for this contest.

Shaun Yurcaba, the Vandergrift Main Street Manager from Pittsburgh History & Landmarks Foundation (PHLF) realized that this retail promotion would be successful when “…people were coming into downtown that hadn’t been to Vandergrift in months or even years. We were pleased about the participation from the community and the amount of increased foot traffic into the downtown businesses.”

The V.I.P. will be facilitating the second annual Vandergrift Pet Contest and Calendar 2008 starting on Sept. 24. Submit your favorite pet photo to the V.I.P. office between Sept. 24-Oct. 5. Place your vote at participating businesses between Oct. 15-31. Winners and calendars will be announced at Light Up Night on November 23, 2007.

The V.I.P. organizes several events and retail promotions a year in an effort to bring people into the downtown and to help the area become more aware of what is offered by the local businesses. The V.I.P. President, David Truffa, is also a downtown Vandergrift business owner and one of many business owners who’s involved with the V.I.P., “We are an organization committed to revitalizing Vandergrift, and it’s events like this that do encourage people to visit downtown Vandergrift.”

Founded in 1987, the mission of Pennsylvania Downtown Center is to advance the sense of place, quality of life and economic vitality of Pennsylvania’s downtowns, traditional neighborhood business districts and nearby residential areas.

The Vandergrift Improvement Program, Inc. is a non-profit organization composed of local residents, businesses, local and state government officials. The V.I.P. is a designated Main Street community funded in part by the Department of Economic Development (DCED).

The V.I.P. on site Main Street Manager is Mrs. Shaun Yurcaba, of Pittsburgh History & Landmarks Foundation (PHLF). The V.I.P. has selected PHLF to manage the main street revitalization efforts, working closely with the PHLF staff, specifically with Arthur Ziegler, President, and Eugene Matta.

The V.I.P. is dedicated to the protection, preservation and restoration of Vandergrift by using a four-point approach that focuses on organization, economic restructuring, promotion, and design of the central business corridor as well as the residential areas of Vandergrift.

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Woodville Plantation Ownership Transferred

September 9, 2007
PHLF News

After thirty-one years of ownership, Pittsburgh History & Landmarks Foundation officially transferred the Neville House, a two-story Southern colonial style house constructed in 1785 by John Neville, to the Neville House Associates.

Neville House, located in Collier Township, has been managed by the Neville House Associates for more than thirty years, and the organization hopes to expand their operation of the historic house museum.

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PHLF Board of Trustees and Community Advisory Board

PHLF Board of Trustees

Jack Norris, Chair

Kevin P. Allen, Vice-Chair
Linda K. Barsevich
David M. Brashear, Vice-Chair
Herb Burger
Selene L. Davis, Secretary
Leroy Dillard
Lu Donnelly
Larry Dunn, Treasurer
Kezia L. Ellison
Laurence Glasco
Leon E. Haynes III
Sy Holzer
David A. Kleer, Assistant Secretary
Robert M. Lavelle
Valerie McDonald-Roberts
Corbin P. Miller
Mary Beth Pastorius
Jack B. Piatt
Curtiss E. Porter, PhD
Matthew A. Sanfilippo
J.T. Thomas
Cynthia Pearson Turich
Mark Vernallis
Todd Wilson

PHLF Trustee Emeritus

Betty Abrams
Mark Stephen Bibro, Chair Emeritus
Anne S. Genter
Philip B. Hallen, Chair Emeritus
Pat Pearson

PHLF Community Advisory Board

Esther L. Barazzone, PhD
Jeanne B. Berdik
Susan E. Brandt
Jay Brooks
Holly Brubach
Marco A. Cardamone
Meg Cheever
Sylvia Dallas
Jamini Vincent Davies
Michael M. Dawida
Harmar D. Denny IV
Edith H. Fisher
Mary Louise Gailliot
Charles E. Half
John C. Harmon
Volker Hartkopf, PhD
Mary A. McDonough
W. McCook Miller, Jr.
Mary A. Navarro
Gladys Perez
Merrill Stabile
Mehret Birru Talabi, MD
Kathleen Testoni
Harley N. Trice II, Esq.
David J. Vater
William F. Versaw

 

 


Mission & Brief History | Location | Board of Trustees | Staff

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Spinoff targets urban revitalization

Pittsburgh Tribune ReviewBy Ron DaParma
TRIBUNE-REVIEW
Tuesday, September 18, 2007

The Pittsburgh History & Landmarks Foundation is forming a new nonprofit corporation to expand its activities in neighborhood and urban revitalization.
Mark Bibro, chairman of the South Side-based preservationist organization, announced Monday the foundation had hired Howard B. Slaughter Jr., who recently left his job as director of Fannie Mae’s Pittsburgh Community Business Center, as the unit’s CEO.

The new nonprofit — Landmarks Community Capital Inc. — will provide equity and debt financing for housing and economic development in Western Pennsylvania, eastern Ohio and West Virginia, said Arthur P. Ziegler Jr., the foundation’s president.

“This broadens the tools with which we can work,” said Ziegler, who also will serve as the new corporation’s president. “It enables us to tap the capital markets on a broader basis, and we can do more things within the very broad interpretation under which we operate for historic preservation.”

Cities and towns throughout Western Pennsylvania are historic, but restoring historic buildings isn’t the only way they can be revitalized, Ziegler said.

“You need new construction, you need new businesses on Main Street, or you may need new housing or new forms of green energy,” he said.

The idea of the new corporation is to raise funds through grants, loans and investments that the foundation can use for grants, loans and investments in such projects. Roles it can play include developer, co-developer or lender to community-development corporations and others that undertake such work.

It also hopes to contract with government and private agencies to define such projects and conduct feasibility studies for them, according to a news release. Goals include expanding regional employment, promoting energy conservation and assisting in rural and farm economic development.

“There is an opportunity in the market to provide appropriate financing for existing and new developments independently and in collaboration with other financial intermediaries and developers,” said Slaughter, 49. His appointment is effective Oct. 15.

Ron DaParma can be reached at rdaparma@tribweb.com or 412-320-7907.

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Point Park hall will get historic designation

Pittsburgh Tribune ReviewBy The Tribune-Review
Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Point Park University’s Lawrence Hall will be designated a historic landmark Thursday by the Pittsburgh History and Landmarks Foundation.
The building has been owned by Point Park since 1967 and underwent a major renovation in 2005.

Lawrence Hall, on Wood Street, Downtown, originally was built as the Keystone Athletic Club in 1928 and later became the 21-story Sherwyn Hotel.

The historic landmark plaque will be unveiled at 10 a.m. at the main entrance to the hall.

The foundation began its program of identifying architecturally significant structures and landscapes in 1968.

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Tax help driving big rehab projects

Pittsburgh Post GazetteHistorical remakes use federal credits to raise money

Tuesday, September 18, 2007
By Marylynne Pitz,
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Thursday’s grand opening of Bedford Springs Resort marks a milestone in its $120 million rehabilitation, capping more than two decades of monumental efforts to revive the Bedford County mountain retreat.

It also represents one of the largest projects in Pennsylvania to take advantage of a federal tax credit program that has spurred nearly $300 million of investment in Pittsburgh the past decade.

Examples include Downtown’s Renaissance Pittsburgh Hotel, Heinz Lofts on the North Side and the Armstrong Cork Factory, a $60 million project with three luxury apartment buildings that opened in May in the Strip District.

More recently, an 18-month renovation that cost upwards of $15 million transformed the former Keystone Grocery warehouse and Try Street Terminal into Shannon Hall, a nine-story Downtown building with 140 apartments that opened in July for Art Institute of Pittsburgh students.

And just last week, Trek Development announced plans to convert Downtown’s Century Building on Seventh Street into affordable apartments, aided by $2.3 million in federal historic rehabilitation tax credits.

Created three decades ago by Congress to spur preservation, the credits help developers clear financial hurdles that accompany the renovation of older structures, which cost more to rehabilitate than building anew. The credits allow lenders, banks and corporations to invest in the projects, while using the credits to reduce their tax liabilities dollar for dollar.

The developer first must qualify for the tax credits, which they then sell to the investors. The process requires developers to submit a detailed application outlining a project’s scope, and the building must be on the National Register of Historic Places to qualify for the full 20 percent credit.

The buyer of the credit “virtually owns the building. They are not just buying the tax credit. They are entering a partnership and … sharing in the profits,” said Jill Paskoff, a certified public accountant with the Reznick Group in Baltimore.

The community benefits from the rehabilitation and reuse of little-used and abandoned properties that are added back to the tax rolls. Since 1978, Allegheny County alone has seen 431 such projects use the credits to spur investments totaling $487.7 million, said Bonnie Wilkinson Mark, a historical architect with Pennsylvania’s Bureau of Historic Preservation.

Francisco Escalante, director of operations for the local development company No Wall Productions, said his firm has used historic tax credits on three Downtown-area projects, including the recently renovated 930 Penn Ave., a six-story building that has 20 apartments, a Subway sandwich shop on the first floor and the restaurant Seviche.

“Without having access to the historic credit, our renovations … would not have been possible,” Mr. Escalante said, adding that No Wall Productions’ partner in the deal was Rugby Realty, which owns the Frick Building and Gulf Tower.

No Wall Productions also obtained credits for its renovation of 905 Liberty Ave., where it created a space called Liberty Lofts in partnership with the city’s Urban Redevelopment Authority. And it used the credits to finance renovation of the Bruno Building, which has seven residential and commercial lofts at 945 Penn Ave.

All three buildings are contributing structures to the Penn-Liberty National Register Historic District.

The Bedford Springs Resort project had six investors who put up $10 million of their own money and qualified the project for a $23 million rehabilitation tax credit, which was sold to oil giant Chevron.

The proceeds helped fund the renovations, said Timm Judson, chief investment officer for The Ferchill Group of Cleveland, a member of the investor group, Bedford Resort Partners Ltd. Historic tax credits aren’t the only vehicle developers turn to when renovating old properties. Often part and parcel with the use of credits are agreements by the developer with preservation groups to maintain the building’s historic character.

On the surface, such restrictions may sound like a deterrent to financing. But in effect, by preventing modifications that could ruin the building’s historic character, they ensure that the building will retain its integrity and even increase in value.

In practice, these easements allow the preservationists, often a group like the Pittsburgh History & Landmarks Foundation, to control changes that are made to the facade or the site of the building, said Martha W. Jordan, a Duquesne University law professor who teaches courses on federal income tax.

Professor Jordan — who also serves on the board of Landmarks, the city’s largest preservation group — said the foundation has an easement on the facade of Bedford Springs Resort as well as its golf course.

“They can’t change the golf course without permission of Landmarks. They can’t make changes to the facade of Bedford Springs,” she said.

Jack Miller, director of planned giving at Landmarks, said the nonprofit has more than 30 restrictive easements or covenants on properties primarily in Western Pennsylvania. The best known of these include the Heinz Lofts on the North Side, the Armstrong Cork Factory and the Bedford Springs project.

John Panno, tax counsel at Sherwin-Williams in Cleveland, likes the use of historic tax credits and facade easements not only because they benefit his company, but because they are helping beautify his hometown. He grew up in McKees Rocks.

“I love seeing what’s happening,” he said. “This is about preserving history and reviving communities.”

First published on September 18, 2007 at 12:00 am
Marylynne Pitz can be reached at mpitz@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1648.

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Membership: Life Benefactor

Individual | Student | Senior Citizen | Couple | Family | Schools & Districts | Non-Profit | Corporate | Landmarks Heritage Society | Life Benefactor

Membership Levels:

Individual
Student
Senior Citizen
Couple
Family
Schools & Districts
Non-Profit
Corporate
Landmarks Heritage Society (LHS)
Life Benefactor

Life Benefactor Memberships

Life benefactor membership entails a one-time donation. Each new member adds strength to our organization, and together we provide a strong collective voice on behalf of historic preservation. Our success depends on the support and involvement of many people and organizations. Your membership contribution or charitable gift will be used to continue and increase our historic preservation programs and services in the Pittsburgh region.

JOIN US and support our efforts to:

  • Stand guard over the major architectural landmarks of Allegheny County.
  • Revitalize historic neighborhoods and properties, and assist urban neighborhood efforts in restoration, new construction, and affordable home-ownership programs through the Preservation Loan Fund.
  • Provide technical assistance and advice to dozens of communities and neighborhood groups.
  • Identify and survey the historical, architectural, and industrial resources in Allegheny County and make nominations to the National Register of Historic Places.
  • Preserve Pittsburgh’s historic parks and public sculpture.
  • Create student/teacher workshops, tours, lectures, publications, and other educational programs featuring the history and architecture of the Pittsburgh region.
  • Formulate reuse plans for abandoned industrial sites in Allegheny County.
  • Contribute to the economy of Greater Pittsburgh by developing tourist attractions based on our architectural and industrial heritage and the good use of our rivers.
  • Evaluate future development proposals as an advocate for the preservation of the Pittsburgh region’s special character.
  • Continue a well-managed, responsive, and creative membership organization with the ability to implement these goals on a long-range basis.

Life Benefactor Membership Benefits Include:

  • A 10% discount on PHLF publications
  • A free subscription to PHLF News, our handsomely illustrated annual newsletter featuring current work and architectural research.
  • E-mail newsletters on preservation issues and events
  • Discounted rates on technical assistance in regard to your historic property.
  • The opportunity to work with our planned giving consultant to realize benefits for you, your family, and PHLF.
  • Free Friday walking tours in downtown Pittsburgh, May through September
  • Savings on workshops at the Landmarks Preservation Resource Center in Wilkinsburg.
  • Discounts on special events and bus tours, and an invitation to an exclusive event for Heritage Society members ($1,000 gift or above or an estate commitment).
  • Savings on school tours and presentations.
  • Free access to the James D. Van Trump Library of architectural and historical books, periodicals, images, and reference materials.
  • Free access to the Frank B. Fairbanks Rail Transportation Archive.
  • Free admission to “Woodville Plantation,” a National Historic Landmarks in Collier Township.
  • Many rewarding volunteer opportunities.
  • The satisfaction of knowing that you are supporting one of the nation’s most innovative and effective historic preservation organizations.
    Call 412-471-5808 and speak to Mary Lu Denny to join or pay by credit card by clicking below.

 

Join Today


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Membership: Landmarks Heritage Society

Individual | Student | Senior Citizen | Couple | Family | Schools & Districts | Non-Profit | Corporate | Landmarks Heritage Society | Life Benefactor

Membership Levels:

Individual
Student
Senior Citizen
Couple
Family
Schools & Districts
Non-Profit
Corporate
Landmarks Heritage Society (LHS)
Life Benefactor

Landmarks Heritage Society (LHS)

An annual gift of $1,000 or more—or a planned gift commitment—makes you a member of the Landmarks Heritage Society (LHS). While a cash contribution is always welcome, you can also create a Named Fund at PHLF, include PHLF in your will or estate plan, or benefit from a charitable gift annuity or retained life estate. Gifts of appreciated assets such as securities and real estate may allow you to avoid capital gains tax, yet carry a full fair market value charitable deduction. PHLF is one of only a handful of organizations that enthusiastically considers gifts of real estate if they conform to our gift acceptance policy. From time to time, PHLF will even consider gifts of tangible personal property if they are related to our mission or can be easily converted to cash to fund preservation projects.  For more information: http://plannedgifts.phlf.org/index.php

JOIN US and support our efforts to:

  • Stand guard over the major architectural landmarks of Allegheny County.
  • Revitalize historic neighborhoods and properties, and assist inner-city neighborhood efforts in restoration, new construction, and affordable home-ownership programs through the Preservation Loan Fund.
  • Provide technical assistance and advice to dozens of communities and neighborhood groups.
  • Identify and survey the historical, architectural, and industrial resources in Allegheny County and complete nominations to the National Register of Historic Places.
  • Preserve Pittsburgh’s historic parks and public sculpture.
  • Create student/teacher workshops, tours, lectures, publications, and other educational programs featuring the history and architecture of the Pittsburgh region.
  • Formulate reuse plans for abandoned industrial sites in Allegheny County.
  • Contribute to the economy of Greater Pittsburgh by developing tourist attractions based on our architectural and industrial heritage and the good use of our rivers.
  • Evaluate future development proposals as an advocate for the preservation of the Pittsburgh region’s special character.
  • Continue a well-managed, responsive, and creative membership organization with the ability to implement these goals on a long-range basis.

LHS Membership Benefits Include:

  • a subscription to Landmark Legacies, an annual newsletter focusing on creative ways PHLF and LHS members are helping to renew historic communities and build pride throughout the Pittsburgh region;
  • an invitation to a “members only” LHS special event;
  • and recognition in PHLF News and on PHLF’s website
    PLUS:
  • A 10% discount on PHLF publications
  • A free subscription to PHLF News, our handsomely illustrated annual newsletter featuring current work and architectural research.
  • E-mail newsletters on preservation issues and events
  • Discounted rates on technical assistance in regard to your historic property.
  • The opportunity to work with our planned giving consultant to realize benefits for you, your family, and PHLF.
  • Free Friday walking tours in downtown Pittsburgh, May through September
  • Savings on workshops at the Landmarks Preservation Resource Center in Wilkinsburg.
  • Discounts on special events and bus tours, and an invitation to an exclusive event for Heritage Society members ($1,000 gift or above or an estate commitment).
  • Savings on school tours and presentations.
  • Free access to the James D. Van Trump Library of architectural and historical books, periodicals, images, and reference materials.
  • Free access to the Frank B. Fairbanks Rail Transportation Archive.
  • Free admission to “Woodville Plantation,” a National Historic Landmarks in Collier Township.
  • Many rewarding volunteer opportunities.
  • The satisfaction of knowing that you are supporting one of the nation’s most innovative and effective historic preservation organizations.
    Call 412-471-5808 and speak to Mary Lu Denny to join or pay by credit card by clicking below.
Join Today


Membership Status
Membership Enrollment Name
as you would like it to appear:

Commitment Level :


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Membership: Corporate

Individual | Student | Senior Citizen | Couple | Family | Schools & Districts | Non-Profit | Corporate | Landmarks Heritage Society | Life Benefactor

Membership Levels:

Individual
Student
Senior Citizen
Couple
Family
Schools & Districts
Non-Profit
Corporate
Landmarks Heritage Society (LHS)
Life Benefactor

Corporate Membership

Each new corporate member adds strength to our organization, and together we provide a strong collective voice on behalf of historic preservation. Our success depends on the support and involvement of many people and organizations.

Your membership contribution or charitable gift will be used to continue and increase our historic preservation programs and services in the Pittsburgh region.

JOIN US and support our efforts to:

  • Stand guard over the major architectural landmarks of Allegheny County.
  • Revitalize historic neighborhoods and properties, and assist inner-city neighborhood efforts in restoration, new construction, and affordable home-ownership programs through the Preservation Loan Fund.
  • Provide technical assistance and advice to dozens of communities and neighborhood groups.
  • Identify and survey the historical, architectural, and industrial resources in Allegheny County and complete nominations to the National Register of Historic Places.
  • Preserve Pittsburgh’s historic parks and public sculpture.
  • Create student/teacher workshops, tours, lectures, publications, and other educational programs featuring the history and architecture of the Pittsburgh region.
  • Formulate reuse plans for abandoned industrial sites in Allegheny County.
  • Contribute to the economy of Greater Pittsburgh by developing tourist attractions based on our architectural and industrial heritage and the good use of our rivers.
  • Evaluate future development proposals as an advocate for the preservation of the Pittsburgh region’s special character.
  • Continue a well-managed, responsive, and creative membership organization with the ability to implement these goals on a long-range basis.

Corporate Membership Levels & Benefits:

Benefactors receive:

    • A complimentary copy of Clyde Hare’s Pittsburgh, Frozen in Light.
    • A complimentary “thank you” advertisement in PHLF News, our annual membership newsletter.
    • All benefits as listed below in the Patron and Partner categories.
    • When you first join as a Benefactor, the portion of your membership dues exceeding $100 is tax-deductible. When you renew your membership, the portion of your dues exceeding $25 is tax deductible.
      Call 412-471-5808 and speak to Mary Lu Denny to join.

Patrons receive:

    • A complimentary copy of Whirlind Walk: Architecture and Urban Spaces in Downtown Pittsburgh.
    • All benefits as listed below in the Partner categories.
    • When you first join as a Patron, the portion of your membership dues exceeding $60 is tax-deductible. When you renew your membership, the portion of your dues exceeding $15 is tax deductible.
      Call 412-471-5808 and speak to Mary Lu Denny to join.

Partners receive:

    • A framed certificate acknowledging your corporate membership support.
    • A free subscription to PHLF News, our annual membership newsletter.
    • A corporate employee discount on tours, publications, and special events.
    • Free admission for corporate employees to lectures offered by Landmarks.
    • Free use of PHLF’s reference library of architectural and historical books, magazines, photographs, etc.
    • When you first join as a Partner, the portion of your membership dues exceeding $35 is tax-deductible. When you renew your membership, the portion of your dues exceeding $15 is tax deductible.
      Call 412-471-5808 and speak to Mary Lu Denny to join.

Lifetime Membership:

      • All donations above $10,000 become a corporate member for life. Special benefits are provided. Call 412-471-5808 for details.
        Call 412-471-5808 and speak to Mary Lu Denny to join or use our online cart below with your credit card.

Join Today


Membership Status
Membership Enrollment Name
as you would like it to appear:

Commitment Level :

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Membership: Non-Profit Organization

Individual | Student | Senior Citizen | Couple | Family | Schools & Districts | Non-Profit | Corporate | Landmarks Heritage Society | Life Benefactor

Membership Levels:

Individual
Student
Senior Citizen
Couple
Family
Schools & Districts
Non-Profit
Corporate
Landmarks Heritage Society (LHS)
Life Benefactor

Non-Profit Organization Membership

Each new member adds strength to our organization, and together we provide a strong collective voice on behalf of historic preservation. Our success depends on the support and involvement of many people and organizations. Your membership contribution or charitable gift will be used to continue and increase our historic preservation programs and services in the Pittsburgh region.

JOIN US and support our efforts to:

  • Stand guard over the major architectural landmarks of Allegheny County.
  • Revitalize historic neighborhoods and properties, and assist inner-city neighborhood efforts in restoration, new construction, and affordable home-ownership programs through the Preservation Loan Fund.
  • Provide technical assistance and advice to dozens of communities and neighborhood groups.
  • Identify and survey the historical, architectural, and industrial resources in Allegheny County and complete nominations to the National Register of Historic Places.
  • Preserve Pittsburgh’s historic parks and public sculpture.
  • Create student/teacher workshops, tours, lectures, publications, and other educational programs featuring the history and architecture of the Pittsburgh region.
  • Formulate reuse plans for abandoned industrial sites in Allegheny County.
  • Contribute to the economy of Greater Pittsburgh by developing tourist attractions based on our architectural and industrial heritage and the good use of our rivers.
  • Evaluate future development proposals as an advocate for the preservation of the Pittsburgh region’s special character.
  • Continue a well-managed, responsive, and creative membership organization with the ability to implement these goals on a long-range basis.

Non-profit Organization Membership Benefits Include:

  • A 10% discount on PHLF publications
  • A free subscription to PHLF News, our handsomely illustrated annual newsletter featuring current work and architectural research.
  • E-mail newsletters on preservation issues and events
  • Discounted rates on technical assistance in regard to your historic property.
  • The opportunity to work with our planned giving consultant to realize benefits for you, your family, and PHLF.
  • Free Friday walking tours in downtown Pittsburgh, May through September
  • Savings on workshops at the Landmarks Preservation Resource Center in Wilkinsburg.
  • Discounts on special events and bus tours, and an invitation to an exclusive event for Heritage Society members ($1,000 gift or above or an estate commitment).
  • Savings on school tours and presentations.
  • Free access to the James D. Van Trump Library of architectural and historical books, periodicals, images, and reference materials.
  • Free access to the Frank B. Fairbanks Rail Transportation Archive.
  • Free admission to “Woodville Plantation,” a National Historic Landmarks in Collier Township.
  • Many rewarding volunteer opportunities.
  • The satisfaction of knowing that you are supporting one of the nation’s most innovative and effective historic preservation organizations.
    Call 412-471-5808 and speak to Mary Lu Denny to join or pay by credit card by clicking below.

 

Join Today


Membership Status
Membership Enrollment Name
as you would like it to appear:

Commitment Level :

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Membership: Schools and School Districts

Individual | Student | Senior Citizen | Couple | Family | Schools & Districts | Non-Profit | Corporate | Landmarks Heritage Society | Life Benefactor

Membership Levels:

Individual
Student
Senior Citizen
Couple
Family
Schools & Districts
Non-Profit
Corporate
Landmarks Heritage Society (LHS)

Life Benefactor

Schools & School Districts Membership

Schools receive a 50% discount on all student walking tours and have access to PHLF’s award-winning educational programs that connect lessons you are teaching in the classroom to real places in the Pittsburgh region. Place-based education strengthens academic skills by making learning relevant and builds citizenship skills and hometown pride.

JOIN US and support our efforts to:

  • Stand guard over the major architectural landmarks of Allegheny County.
  • Revitalize historic neighborhoods and properties, and assist inner-city neighborhood efforts in restoration, new construction, and affordable home-ownership programs through the Preservation Loan Fund.
  • Provide technical assistance and advice to dozens of communities and neighborhood groups.
  • Identify and survey the historical, architectural, and industrial resources in Allegheny County and complete nominations to the National Register of Historic Places.
  • Preserve Pittsburgh’s historic parks and public sculpture.
  • Create student/teacher workshops, tours, lectures, publications, and other educational programs featuring the history and architecture of the Pittsburgh region.
  • Formulate reuse plans for abandoned industrial sites in Allegheny County.
  • Contribute to the economy of Greater Pittsburgh by developing tourist attractions based on our architectural and industrial heritage and the good use of our rivers.
  • Evaluate future development proposals as an advocate for the preservation of the Pittsburgh region’s special character.
  • Continue a well-managed, responsive, and creative membership organization with the ability to implement these goals on a long-range basis.

In addition to the Individual Membership Benefits, Schools and School Districts Receive:

  • 50% discount on the Downtown Dragons walking tour
  • 50% discount on the Portable Pittsburgh Artifact Kit
  • 50% discount on the Strip District walking tour and all other student walking tours
  • free copies (while supplies last) of Pittsburgh posters, postcards, and bookmarks
  • free use of more than a dozen slide shows from our slide-lending collection about Pittsburgh’s history, architecture, parks, and sculpture
  • free access to PHLF’s reference libraries of architectural and historic books, magazines, photographs, slides, and rail transportation archives
    Call 412-471-5808 and speak to Mary Lu Denny to join.

You may select a membership for one student, once school (including all students within the school), or the entire school district.

Join Today! Select whether you wish to enroll your school, or your entire district.
Membership Status
Name of School

Individual School Commitment Level :

Membership Status
Name of School District

Entire School District Commitment Level :

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