State grants awarded for 13 historic preservation projects in Pittsburgh region


Renovations of landmark Pittsburgh buildings are among 13 projects in Southwestern Pennsylvania that have been awarded funds though the Keystone Historic Preservation Grant program.

The Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission this week announced 52 of the preservation grants, totaling $2.6 million, for projects in 24 counties.

Nine approved projects in Allegheny County include renovations of the Oliver Bath House on Pittsburgh’s South Side and of the Soldiers & Sailors Memorial Hall & Museum in Oakland.

The City of Pittsburgh will receive a $100,000 grant, which is half of the estimated cost of rehabilitating windows in the bath house. The work is part of an overall $3.5 million overhaul of the 1915 building, which is a contributing structure for the East Carson Street Historic District.

According to Tim McNulty, communications director for Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto, the project also will address the building’s exterior masonry and handicapped accessibility, make repairs to the indoor swimming pool and sidewalk vault, add new mechanical and ventilation systems, upgrade network and electrical equipment and reconfigure bathroom and changing room areas.

Timing of construction hasn’t been determined.

“The city is in the selection process for professional architectural and historic preservation services for the redesign,” McNulty said.

The 10th Street building was a gift to the city and its residents from Pittsburgh industrialist Henry W. Oliver. It is the only remaining public bath house operating in Pennsylvania, and one of the few left in the country, according to Preservation Pittsburgh.

A $96,350 grant will help correct water infiltration that has occurred at the Soldiers & Sailors hall, mainly during heavy rainstorms. There has been damage to walls, ceilings and some exhibits.

Proposed renovations at the 1910 building exterior include repairing or replacing roofing, storm drains, masonry, caulking and cement.

“Aging roof systems, caulking, flashing, mortar joints, stone cracks, etc. … are allowing water to do what it does,” said John F. McCabe, president and CEO of the nonprofit trust that operates the hall.

Other regional preservation grant recipients include:

Allegheny County

• Allegheny Historic Preservation Society, $24,500 to prepare an historic structure report and feasibility study for the Allegheny Elks Lodge 339 building on Cedar Avenue in Pittsburgh. Designed by noted Pittsburgh architect Edward B. Lee, the building is at risk from years of heavy use.

• New Hazlett Center for the Performing Arts, $25,000 to develop plans for needed capital improvements and preservation work in the portion of the historic Carnegie Free Library of Allegheny that is used by the arts organization. The historic building is located on Pittsburgh’s North Side.

• Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens, $80,000 to repair and restore the glass roof and sidewall system of the 1893 Broderie Room, a public programming space at the conservatory in Pittsburgh’s Schenley Park. It was commissioned in 1893 by conservatory founder Henry Phipps, friend and business partner of industrialist Andrew Carnegie.

• Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy, $50,000 to restore the Hartzell Memorial Monument on Federal Street in Pittsburgh’s North Side. The 1910 fountain and statue also are known as “Man, Beast and Bird.”

• Rodef Shalom Congregation, $95,000 to replace the storm and sewer system under the main sanctuary of the Jewish temple on Pittsburgh’s Fifth Avenue. The 1907 building was designed by Henry Hornbostel, who also served as the architect for the Carnegie Institute of Technology — now Carnegie Mellon University.

• The Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh, $24,000 to help re-point the granite façade of the revitalized Carnegie Free Library of Allegheny building.

• The Union Project, $25,000 to help plan for a handicapped-accessible ramp, a proposed exterior courtyard and safety and energy-efficiency improvements at the arts center on Pittsburgh’s Negley Avenue.

Westmoreland County

• Ligonier Valley Historical Society, $71,954 to help stabilize the Laurel Hill Furnace in New Florence. Constructed of stone lined with refractory brick, hot-blast iron furnace operated for about a decade, starting in 1855, and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Washington County

• Historical Society of Western Pennsylvania, $75,724 to replace wooden steps leading to an enclosure housing the Meadowcroft Rockshelter in Avella. The site features evidence of human habitation dating back 19,000 years.

• Washington Business District Authority, $12,000 to create design guidelines property owners can follow when enhancing or restoring architectural features of buildings in the newly designated Washington Commercial Historic District.

Greene County

• Rivers of Steel Heritage Corp., $73,000 for restoration of the W.A. Young & Sons Foundry and Machine Shop, a National Historic Landmark in Rices Landing. Built in 1900, the shop produced parts for steamboats, coal mines and railroads. It is open for tours and hosts an annual demonstration by blacksmiths.


Jeff Himler is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Jeff at 724-836-6622, or via Twitter .