Category Archive: Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Friday, November 19, 2010By Diana Nelson Jones, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Five sculptures that were stored for years in a public works warehouse are being put back on pedestals four years after one artist’s persistent queries led to their discovery.
Thursday morning, a crew from Mangery & Sons hoisted Peter Calaboyias’ stainless steel sculpture “Five Factors” into place on a concrete slab behind the baseball field in Mellon Park, Shadyside.
Standing beside one of the six-sided skewed cylinders, he beamed and said seeing it in public was a thrill “after all these years.”
“Five Factors” was one of four sculptures chosen in a 1971 public art competition and placed atop the garage at the Squirrel Hill branch of the Carnegie Library. They were among the first contemporary sculptures to be displayed as public art in the city. At the time, the city required that 1 percent of the construction budget for a public building be spent on art.
Thomas Morandi, Edward Bordas and Jim Myford were the other artists whose works were chosen.
Years ago, the sculptures were removed, either for repair or to accommodate changes in use of space. Mr. Calaboyias thought his sculpture had been stolen and sold for scrap, he said.
Library officials said the works had been sent to a restoration company in the 1990s. But at some time after that, the public works department retrieved the works when the company went bankrupt and stashed them in a warehouse under the 62nd Street Bridge.
They stayed there until 2006, when Councilman William Peduto’s staff learned about the sculpture and contacted Mr. Calaboyias.
The artist, who had raced to the warehouse to make the identification, said it was both distressing and exciting to see them.
“Five Factors” was inspired by ancient Greek stelae, or cylindrical stone markers that were inscribed with words or carvings, he said.
Half of a Richard King Mellon Foundation grant of $300,000 was used to restore and relocate the sculptures. The fifth was the work of Aaronel deRoy Gruber. It was originally on the portico of the City-County Building, then on the site where the David L. Lawrence Convention Center is now. It was stored with the other four.
Morton Brown, public art manager for the city, said the five pieces were in “the most dire need” of conservatorship among the city’s collection. Three went to the McKay Lodge Conservation Lab in Ohio. Mr. Myford and Mr. Calaboyias did their own repairs; in fact, Mr. Calaboyias’ is an exact replica of the original, which “had too many dents to be pounded out to save,” he said.
The Bordas piece has to hang on a wall, said Mr. Brown. Its new location has yet to be decided.
“I’m trying to find a city-owned facility that has an architectural style” that’s the right fit for “two abstract, elongated triangles welded together and painted red. Really quite beautiful. But I haven’t found the right place yet.”
The sculpture is under 200 pounds, he said.
Mr. Myford’s work — two elongated rectangular forms angled like fingers aloft — was installed two months ago in Grandview Park in Mount Washington, just above the historic stone steps off Bailey Avenue.
Mr. Morandi’s and Ms. Gruber’s works will be installed in Mellon Park.
With the rest of the grant, Mr. Brown and the Greater Pittsburgh Arts Council’s Office of Public Art will determine which pieces should next be restored, weighing costs, deterioration, visibility and the prominence of the artist, he said.
“We have 110 pieces in the collection and we have about 21” identified as most in need, he said.
Friday, November 19, 2010By Emily Gibb, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Pull open the solid wood door with its weathered red paint, walk into T & T Hardware Co. Inc. on the South Side and it’s a bit like stepping back in time.
Wooden shelves line the walls, some all the way to the ceiling, along with rows and rows of little wooden drawers full of screws, nuts and bolts behind a wooden counter along the back. Power tools almost seem out of place in their wood and glass displays.
But next week, after fighting off hard times the last few years, the hardware store fixture on Carson Street begins the process to shut its doors for good.
The “mom and pop” store has too much remaining inventory to liquidate or auction off yet, so beginning Monday, everything is 50 percent off the original price, said manager Mark McNally, 55, of Mount Washington.
They are waiting to see how long it takes to sell most of their inventory to set an exact closing date. This week, they’re just trying to get everything out on the shelves.
Stanley Tumas opened T & T Hardware in 1936. After he retired in the late 1980s, his son, Michael Tumas, took over ownership of the store.
It has stayed in the same spot for the last 74 years, expanding to the side and to the back as the years went on. It was a work in progress until the ’80s, Mr. McNally said.
He says they’ve always had a reputation as the place to go for “odd stuff that no one else has,” like specific plumbing parts, nuts, bolts or screws.
Since he began working at a hardware store in Mount Washington as a teenager and then managing T & T Hardware for the last 15 years, Mr. McNally has seen many changes in the business.
Part of the challenge comes from “big box” stores, like Home Depot. “They’re key why these stores are going,” he said.
Competing with a Lowe’s only five miles away has been difficult.
“It’s just too close. I can show you on my books when they opened,” he said.
Besides competing with large chains, they are competing with the economy as well.
A lot of their business used to come from commercial contractors, but if the contractors don’t have jobs to do, they won’t be coming the hardware store for supplies.
On top of the struggling economy, the South Side is a changing neighborhood.
“For a store like this, the neighborhood has to support it,” he said.
But most people in the neighborhood now rent their houses. Generally, renters aren’t in need of hardware supplies when they can just call their landlord to take care of things.
Saturday used to be the busiest day of the week for a hardware store, Mr. McNally said. Customers who had the day off work would buy their home improvement supplies in the morning. If they were having problems, they would return around noon. If they were really having problems, they would be back again around 3 p.m., Mr. McNally said.
But last year, he started closing on Saturdays — they didn’t have enough weekend business to make it worthwhile anymore.
At one time there were four or five hardware stores just on the South Side, but, he says, “times change. I understand that.”
As Mr. McNally starts a new phase, he has to say goodbye to more than a store and a building.
Thursday, November 18, 2010Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
The Woodville Plantation living history museum will celebrate the holiday season in an 18th-century fashion with candlelight tours from noon to 8 p.m. Sunday at the historic site, 1375 Washington Pike, Collier.
Admission is $5 for adults and $3 for children ages 6-12.
The event will feature costumed guides, holiday displays and traditional decorations. Visitors will learn about holiday customs such as Twelfth Night, Boxing Day and the firing of the Christmas guns.
The full table feast celebrated during Twelfth Night will be displayed, and visitors will hear students of The Pittsburgh Music Academy perform musical selections throughout the day on a circa 1815 pianoforte.
A piece of Whiskey Rebellion history will be displayed — a flag that was once used by the whiskey rebels as a symbol of their resistance to the 1791 excise tax on whiskey.
The flag, owned by historian Claude Harkins and on loan to the Neville House Associates, is thought to be one of only two documented flags from the Whiskey Rebellion Insurrection of 1794.
Woodville Plantation, the home of John and Presley Neville, was built in 1775. It interprets life during the period of 1780-1820, the era of the New Republic. Guided tours of the house are available every Sunday from 1 to 4 p.m.
UNIONTOWN — Five miles west of this Fayette County seat stands the Abel Colley Tavern, a red-brick beacon of hospitality to travelers along the National Road during the 1800s.
Just one mile from Searight’s Toll House, the tavern was known for its moderate prices and hearty clientele of wagoners, who swapped many a tale over Monongahela Rye in its barroom.
By this time next year, it will be a place for even more stories as it becomes the Fayette County Museum. With 6,500 square feet, the restored building will have office space on the second floor for the Fayette County Historical Society, which currently has no regular space to meet; its members often house artifacts in their homes.
The last people to live there, Sue and Frank Dulik, left the property to Virginia and Warren Dick, who donated it to the society.
Jeremy S. Burnworth, the society’s 31-year-old president, is a Markleysburg native who has developed a passion for Fayette County’s rich history. At a convention in September of the American Association of State and Local History, Mr. Burnworth got excited when he learned about standardized software made by the Rescarta Foundation in Wisconsin that allows historical societies to photograph, log and archive materials.
“What a perfect opportunity to do it right from day one,” he said.
An advisory committee will oversee the museum’s operation and at least 30 people have volunteered to help staff the museum and toll house. One of Fayette County’s best-known residents has also pitched in. At an opening ceremony in July, the temperature rose to 99 degrees in the 19th-century building. Joe Hardy, the 84 Lumber tycoon and former Fayette County commissioner, offered afterward to pay for a new heating and cooling system.
One person who knows the building well is Tom Buckelew, a retired physiology professor from California University of Pennsylvania. He figures he has spent 1,500 hours working on restoring the former tavern.
“It had been modernized with drop ceilings and acoustic tile ceilings,” Mr. Buckelew said, adding that many of the rooms had four or five layers of wallpaper that had to be stripped before repainting with period-appropriate colors.
Just inside the front door is a large foyer with a staircase. On the ceiling is some of Mr. Buckelew’s best craftsmanship — a hand-carved ceiling medallion that lends elegance to the new chandelier.
“I roughed out the medallion with a band saw and then just carved the rest. That was about two weeks, three hours a day,” he said.
On the second floor is a large ballroom where Mr. Buckelew painted an intricate, ruglike pattern of mustard, brick red and chocolate brown. It’s actually a centuries-old trick for disguising uneven floors.
“It was a way of capitalizing on bad design,” he said, adding that the front part of the ballroom is probably an inch lower than the back portion. “That was a feature that a lot of people adopted in the early 19th century. In lieu of rugs, you paint a rug on the floor.”
A team of inmates from SCI-Greene spent two weeks hanging dry wall in the building. A new ceiling was attached to a plaster-and-lathe one in the second-floor ballroom. Then, Mr. Buckelew put up crown molding with the help of another volunteer, Bill Zin. Joe Petrucci, a township supervisor in Menallen, donated 400 board feet of molding.
“That ceiling is tied to irregular joists. So the ceiling naturally has some dips in it, high spots and low spots,” Mr. Buckelew said, adding that the crown molding camouflages the dips.
The building, done in a vernacular Greek Revival style, was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1995. Jerry Clouse, who nominated the building for federal designation, dates the structure to around 1835. He said two architectural features signify its use as a tavern: the kitchen ell with a double-stacked porch and two front doors, one of which opens into the barroom.
At least one historian believes it may have been a home much longer than it was a tavern. Ronald L. Michael, a retired anthropologist who excavated around the nearby Peter Colley Tavern in 1973, believes Abel Colley’s famous tavern stood on the opposite side of Route 40, partly because there was once a well on that property which would have provided water for travelers and horses.
The building that locals know as the Abel Colley Tavern, Dr. Michael said, is more likely the house he built after making his fortune in the hospitality business, then retiring. Mr. Burnworth agrees but still treasures its history.
Saturday, November 13, 2010By Kevin Kirkland, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
The panoramic views of the South Hills from the third-floor balcony of 1600 Broadway Ave. are a sight for sore eyes — especially if you live in Beechview.
For the last five years, residents of that city neighborhood and riders on the LRT have had to look at mostly shuttered storefronts on Broadway that were bought — then abandoned — by investor Bernardo Katz. The city’s Urban Redevelopment Authority has foreclosed and put on the market four buildings — 1600, 1601, 1602 and 1619 Broadway Ave. — with hopes of enticing developers to invest in this business district and begin its turnaround.
“Beechview is a very cool neighborhood,” said URA Director Rob Stephany. “I think its proximity to the T makes it interesting.”
Mr. Katz defaulted on millions of dollars worth of mortgages and more than $700,000 in loans from the URA that he used to buy these and other commercial properties in Beechview, Oakland and Mt. Lebanon. He fled to his native Brazil in December 2007 and was charged in absentia last year with federal wire and mortgage fraud.
Although most of the buildings were left to deteriorate, Mr Katz worked on the exterior and interior of the first floor of 1600 Broadway and briefly opened a Mexican restaurant there. The largest of the four, it’s now priced at $194,800. The newer storefront reflects its early 1900s construction while the second and third floors have a total of five apartments and another in the basement, with walkout access on Hampshire Avenue. The URA gutted the apartments to the plaster lathe, removing asbestos and all mechanical systems.
“That’s the way developers want it,” said Dave Majcher, URA senior construction coordinator.
Also gutted was the adjoining 1602 Broadway ($43,000), a former bar that has a new roof and a rickety rear addition that the URA says should be removed. Across the street is 1601 Broadway ($130,000), another former bar with a turret and a few architectural details that survived previous remodels — an original staircase and a columned fireplace mantel on the second floor. The views from its second- and third-floor windows are classic Pittsburgh, with small houses clustered along hilly streets.
A half-dozen storefronts separate 1601 from 1619 Broadway ($70,000), a small former video store with an intact three-bedroom apartment behind.
“It’s perfect for a small business owner,” Mr. Stephany said. “Someone could be in at a reasonable cost.”
The other three buildings, however, are suitable only for developers, he said. A feasibility study the URA commissioned last year estimated exterior and interior renovation costs at $588,799 for 1600 Broadway, $409,586 for 1601 and $457,866 for 1602.
“These are probably $600,000 events,” Mr. Stephany said.
Even with façade grants and streetscape loans, buyers would still be looking at construction loans of at least $400,000 for each building. Everything is not bleak, however. IGA plans to reopen the shuttered Foodland next to 1602 Broadway, and brothers Kevin and Adam Costa have purchased 1603 Broadway to open their Crested Duck Charcuterie, “an artisanal meat market.” At least initially, the apartments may be the hotter part of the properties.
“I do think the first floors will come,” Mr. Stephany said. “I’m not sure they will come first.”
Susheela Nemani-Stanger, a URA project development specialist, believes loft apartments would suit college students who appreciate their proximity to mass transit.
“They would be perfect for students from the Art Institute or Culinary Institute,” she said.
For more information on 1600, 1601, 1602 or 1619 Broadway Ave., Beechview, call 412-255-6612 or go to www.buyintheburgh.com.SALES SNAPSHOT
16TH WARD/SOUTH SIDE 2009 2010 SALES 138 147 MEDIAN PRICE $45,000 $62,000 HIGHEST PRICE $505,000 $380,000 17TH WARD/SOUTH SIDE 2009 2010 SALES 143 134 MEDIAN PRICE $121,250 $137,000 HIGHEST PRICE $800,000 $595,000 18TH WARD/MOUNT WASHINGTON 2009 2010 SALES 141 137 MEDIAN PRICE $12,000 $13,000 HIGHEST PRICE $750,000 $669,000 19TH WARD/BROOKLINE 2009 2010 SALES 462 467 MEDIAN PRICE $65,000 $68,000 HIGHEST PRICE $625,000 $465,000 20TH WARD/WEST END 2009 2010 SALES 245 208 MEDIAN PRICE $33,000 $31,800 HIGHEST PRICE $200,000 $255,000 29TH WARD/CARRICK 2009 2010 SALES 121 148 MEDIAN PRICE $49,000 $45,000 HIGHEST PRICE $133,000 $147,500 30TH WARD/KNOXVILLE 2009 2010 SALES 58 54 MEDIAN PRICE $9,900 $10,100 HIGHEST PRICE $77,000 $55,000 31ST WARD/LINCOLN PLACE 2009 2010 SALES 45 72 MEDIAN PRICE $66,000 $63,000 HIGHEST PRICE $147,400 $335,000 32ND WARD/OVERBROOK 2009 2010 SALES 115 119 MEDIAN PRICE $67,000 $73,000 HIGHEST PRICE $226,000 $229,550 MOUNT OLIVER 2009 2010 SALES 58 55 MEDIAN PRICE $16,201 $20,000 HIGHEST PRICE $79,500 $76,500 WEST HOMESTEAD 2009 2010 SALES 17 23 MEDIAN PRICE $43,100 $22,000 HIGHEST PRICE $169,900 $125,000Beechview
At a glance
- Website: www.beechview.org
- Size: 1.46 square miles
- Population: 8,772 (2000 census)
- School district: Pittsburgh Public (pghboe.net)
- Enrollment: 25,326
- Average 2010 SAT scores: 425 verbal, 446 math, 423 writing
- Taxes on a property assessed at 100,000 : $2,870; City: $1,080 (10.8 mills), school district: $1,392 (13.92 mills), county: $398 (4.69 mills), wage tax: 3 percent (1 percent to the city, 2 percent to the school district)
- Claim to fame: Named for the many beech trees found on its hillsides, Beechview (incorporated as a borough in 1905 and annexed to the city four years later) has the steepest street in hilly Pittsburgh, and quite possibly the world. Canton Street has a grade of 37 percent — that is, it rises 37 feet per 100 feet of run. So steep is the bottom half, that residents aren’t supposed to drive down it.
Tuesday, November 09, 2010By Eleanor Chute, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Pittsburgh Public Schools already is on track to revamp its career and technical education program for high school students.
Now there’s a proposal for students in third through eighth grade.
At the school board’s education committee meeting tonight, Angela Mike, the district’s executive director of career and technical education, will present a plan to provide all students in grades 3 through 8 once-a-month lessons about careers and work.
The plan is expected to be up for a board vote next month and, if approved, begin in the second semester of this school year.
“Students already are starting to think about careers at a younger age,” said Ms. Mike.
Pennsylvania requires career education for all students and sets academic standards for grades 3, 5, 8 and 11.
Pittsburgh is working on developing a curriculum for students in kindergarten through grade 2 as well. If approved, that may be in place next fall.
The first lesson in third grade is aimed at helping children identify their own personal interests, including a survey asking, among other things, whether they like math, taking things apart and managing money. The next lesson helps to identify the range of jobs available. The third helps children understand that careers take preparation.
By grade 8, students are writing resumes and learning interviewing skills. Eighth-graders already have a requirement to complete a career portfolio.
One lesson to be demonstrated to the board uses materials from the Pittsburgh History and Landmarks Foundation, such as a piece of slag to talk about how the steel industry has changed.
The Foundation is among the more than 50 partnerships the district has set up as resources for students, including speakers, internships and tours.
Plans call for students in grades 4 and 7 to take two field trips to businesses in each of those two years.
Ninth-graders will be able to spend a day visiting the training sessions for the carpenters, plumbers and electrical workers.
At the high school level, the board already has approved the creation of three regional programs — health careers; culinary arts; and information technology and business finance — that will be offered at high schools in each of three regions of the city.
Some high schools will have “signature” programs — such as auto body at Pittsburgh Brashear and advanced machine operations at Langley — that require students to attend certain high schools.
Most of the programs in this system will be in place next fall. About 700 students are enrolled in high school CTE programs, and Ms. Mike said the district is trying to attract more.
The district also is trying to make sure that its programs meet the state standards, including a checklist of competencies for each field and adding meeting not only academic standards but also industry standards. The latter still requires an agreement from the teachers union.
Wednesday, November 10, 2010 08:00 AM
Staff Blogs by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Written by Diana Nelson Jones
Since I reported in May that Schwartz Market had a buyer, shoppers have assumed that the little store on East Carson Street had gone out of business.
Not so! Schwartz Market at 1317 E. Carson, is alive and wants you to know it will remain alive until a buyer actually comes through. An IGA grocer had signed a letter of intent in May but backed out of the deal because the building needed upgrades that the building owners have not made.
The building is owned by family of the founding grocers, who once operated six Schwartz Markets in the city. The South Side market, which is on Facebook, has been in operation since the 1920s.
Marty and Audrey Dorfner and Rick and Donna Stanton bought the business in 1985 and have operated it continuously since.
“My goal is to retire after 54 years in this [grocery] business,” said Marty, who has another grocer showing interest in the store.
Until then, said Donna, “We will be here because we want the neighborhood to be served.”
They are gearing up to meet your holidays needs with the kielbasa and sausages for which they are known.
My article was based on information that made the deal appear to be a sure thing. A lot of articles in the paper are anticipatory, such as economic development groundbreakings on ground that three years later have yet to see another shovel.
It’s one thing when there’s nothing there anyway; it’s another when a business suffers as a result. Our city neighborhoods need small retailers; remember to support them in these lean times.
By next summer, Madonna del Castello Church in Swissvale will be transformed into four condominiums.
Located at 7416 Duquesne Ave., the former Roman Catholic church has been empty for the last five years, said Patrick Shattuck, senior real estate developer for the Mon Valley Initiative.
Mt. Zion Fire Baptized Holiness Church of God of America purchased the church from the Diocese of Pittsburgh in 1987 for $55,000. About five years ago, the congregation moved out, Mr. Shattuck said. In September, Mon Valley Initiative purchased the property for $10,000.
The church has a front Flemish-style gable, a barrel-vaulted ceiling and a large dome over the altar; all of these elements will be incorporated into the redesign.
“The space will certainly be dramatic with the high, barrel-vaulted ceilings. The altar will become a dining room with the dome over it,” Mr. Shattuck said.
The building has been reconfigured by Lami Grubb Architects; renovations will be done by Mistick Construction. The building has stood empty and open to the elements, sustaining major water damage.
“The congregation that took it over actually put a dropped ceiling in. They were unaware that the water damage was substantial. So, they repaired the roof but a good portion of the plaster ceiling fell onto the dropped ceiling. That was when they were forced to move out,” Mr. Shattuck said.
The plaster was actually helping to hold the building together, he said. When structural engineers examined the building, they found gaps between the walls.
“You can see daylight between the front wall and the side walls,” Mr. Shattuck said.
Three of the new units will have 1,600 square feet, two bedrooms and 1 1/2 baths and be priced at $85,000. The fourth unit, which incorporates the dome over the altar, will have three bedrooms, 2 1/2 baths, a study and 2,400 square feet of space. It will cost $105,000.
Asbestos has been removed and the red brick exterior is being cleaned. Cast plaster moldings, six Corinthian capitals and arches in the church will be recast and incorporated into the design. The church sits on a quarter of an acre and there will be off-street parking for residents.
“We own a double adjacent lot next to it. There were two buildings that we had to demolish. It may be that we develop a single new house on the site or it may be that it becomes a community garden space,” Mr. Shattuck said.