5 Library Branches Nominated to Be Historic Landmarks
Pittsburgh, Jan. 5 – Five original Andrew Carnegie-built library branches, of The Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh, have been nominated to be City Designated Historic Structures, by the Pittsburgh History and Landmarks Foundation. A Preliminary Determination Hearing on the nomination will occur on Wednesday, January 7, 2004 at 3:30 p.m. in the first floor Hearing Room of the John P. Robin Civic Building (200 Ross Street, at Second Avenue, Downtown Pittsburgh), before the Historic Review Commission of Pittsburgh.
The library branches nominated include the branches in the Pittsburgh neighborhoods of Hazelwood (opened 1900 August 15), Homewood (opened 1911 March 10), Lawrenceville (opened 1898 May 10),
Mount Washington (opened 1900 May 31), and West End (opened 1899 January 31).
The historic designation process could take several months. The historic nomination must be reviewed by the Historic Review Commission and the Planning Commission, both City agencies. At the end of the process, Pittsburgh City Council must approve designation, after reviewing the recommendations of the two commissions. If either commission gives a negative recommendation to the nomination, approval by City Council must be by a “supermajority” of votes.
Several public hearings will be held, on this nomination, throughout the designation process. The first public hearing, on Wednesday, is simply to provide evidence to the Historic Review Commission that these library branches may be eligible for historic designation, thus allowing the rest of the process to go forward.
Designation as City Designated Historic Structures would mean that these five libraries cannot be demolished, or their exteriors altered, without approval of the Historic Review Commission of Pittsburgh. Such designation does not protect the interior of the building, or furnishings, equipment, or artifacts in the building.
Nor does designation require that the owner or lessee continue operations in the building. All five library buildings are owned by the City of Pittsburgh and leased by The Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh.
Although the Homewood Branch Library recently received a $3.5 million rehabilitation (from a bond-issue supported by the Allegheny Regional Asset District), Carnegie Library has proposed abandoning the Hazelwood Branch Library building, in opposition to the wishes of the majority of Hazelwood residents,, by moving the Hazelwood Branch to a second-floor rental unit three blocks away. Rumors persist that Carnegie Library would also like to abandon the Lawrenceville, Mount Washington, West End, and Allegheny Regional Branch (already a City Designated Historic Structure) library buildings, by moving those branch libraries to alternate sites.
Any citizen can attend and testify at any or all of the public hearings regarding this historic nomination. Prior registration to speak is not necessary, except for the final hearing before Pittsburgh City Council.