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4 schools in region to share preservation grant

Pittsburgh Tribune ReviewBy Mary Pickels
Friday, July 20, 2007

Four area schools of higher education will share in a $200,000 Getty Foundation grant aimed at preserving the individual campuses’ historic buildings and landscapes.
Each of the four schools — Seton Hill University, Washington & Jefferson College, Indiana University of Pennsylvania and California University of Pennsylvania — also contributed $10,000 to the effort.

The Pittsburgh History & Landmarks Foundation announced the Campus Heritage grant. A foundation team will begin studying the schools this month, concluding in March 2009.

“The benefit is they get a very complete analysis of their historic buildings,” said Arthur P. Ziegler Jr., president of the Pittsburgh History & Landmarks Foundation. “Even if they are in perfect condition, they get a plan for future maintenance; recommendations for restoration; disability (improvements); and landscaping — down to how to prune a bush properly that might have been there 50 years.”

The individual reports, Ziegler said, can assist the schools with fund-raising to implement specific plans.
According to the Getty Foundation Web site, each of the schools exhibits a range of design in its academic buildings, distinctive campus planning and landscapes, and individual structures that represent American architectural history both locally and nationally.

“They all have historic buildings, and/-or historic landscapes,” Ziegler said. “They are small in size, not likely to apply individually. And they are within easy travel distance for our team. And they were very cooperative. … We went to several and said: ‘In our view, you would qualify.’ These four were very enthusiastic.”

Seton Hill’s winding entrance drive is lined by 80 sycamore trees that are 100 years old, spokeswoman Becca Baker said. She called its historic buildings “a campus treasure.”

“Once we receive the conservation plan for Seton Hill — which will detail the PHLF’s recommendations for the preservation, conservation and continued use of our historic buildings — we plan to incorporate the recommendations into our campus master plan,” Baker said.

McMillan Hall, built in 1793, and Old Main, built in 1836, are Washington & Jefferson College’s flagship buildings, said Kristen Gurdin, director of foundation and legal affairs. McMillan Hall is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

“One of the unique features of Old Main is that it has two towers,” Gurdin said.

After the Civil War, Washington College and Jefferson College united because of the loss of student soldiers. The towers represent the two schools.

“One of the benefits (of the study) will be the strategic assessment of the campus all at one time,” Gurdin said.

IUP’s Sutton Hall and Breezedale Alumni Center, and California’s Old Main, are all listed on the National Register of Historic Places — a consideration in their candidacies for the Getty grant, Ziegler said.

“During this final year of the Campus Heritage initiative,” said Getty Foundation Director Deborah Marrow in a news release, “we are pleased to fund the preservation planning for four of Pennsylvania’s historically important campuses.”

Two years ago, a similar grant was awarded to Allegheny College, Geneva College, Slippery Rock University and Grove City College. The earlier round of grants included funding from the Allegheny Foundation, said Ziegler.

Mary Pickels can be reached at or (724) 836-5401.

Pittsburgh History & Landmarks Foundation

100 West Station Square Drive, Suite 450

Pittsburgh, PA 15219

Phone: 412-471-5808  |  Fax: 412-471-1633