Mellon Park nears designation as historic site by Pittsburgh officials

Pittsburgh’s Mellon Park is nearing designation as a historic site by city officials, with no one opposed to it.

Instead, people have been wondering why the 33-acre park in the city’s Point Breeze neighborhood hadn’t achieved the designation long ago.

“People were surprised it had no protections whatsoever,” said Elizabeth Seamans, president of Friends of Mellon Park. Her organization helped work through the process of attaining the designation.

The park is adjacent to the Fifth Avenue’s Millionaires Row of mansions. It is made up of the estates of the Mellon, Marshall, Scaife, Frew and Darsie families that were donated to the city in the 1940s.

“It’s really at a crossroads of our city,” Seamans said.

It overlaps Fifth Avenue and though it’s in the Point Breeze neighborhood, it borders Squirrel Hill, Shadyside and Larimer, she said.

Mellon Park is set to be designated for historical preservation by the City of Pittsburgh.

The park includes professional landscaping that remains from when they were estates that’s among the finest in the country, Seamans said.

“The whole park is a work of art,” Seamans said. “It’s a treasure for the whole city and people from far and wide enjoy it.”

No one has opposed the historic designation, which would protect the park’s legacy and require any improvements or changes to the area be subject to approval by city officials. Without those protections, the city could sell a portion of the park for something that might not respect its history, Seamans said.

The designation, supported by all city council members, was spearheaded by Councilwoman Erika Strassburger. It also garnered the support of Councilman Anthony Coghill, who has generally opposed making the designations.

The designation will be voted on when council meets Tuesday.

Seamans noted the support and cooperation of several organizations, including Preservation Pittsburgh and the Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy.

The park is enjoyed by a variety of people, Audra Clayton, ceramics director for the Pittsburgh Center for Arts and Media, which is adjacent to the park.

“One of the delights of this park, is when you are in a creative slump or you’re getting frustrated on your pottery wheel, it’s right there, you can go can do a lap around the park, catch your breath, get inspired,” Clayton said.

Achieving the designation is one of the goals of the Friends of Mellon Park, a group that formed about a year ago that aims to coordinate efforts to preserve and best use the park, Seamans said.