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City group honors preservation efforts

By Tony LaRussa
Tuesday, May 3, 2005

Dan Sufak paid little attention to the Victorian details of his family’s Round the Corner Tavern when he would slip in the backdoor for a sandwich as a schoolboy in the 1950s.

But when he and his wife, Susan, bought the Lawrenceville bar and hotel in 1984 — 90 years after it first opened — they vowed to undo decades of neglect to restore the features that set the Butler Street building apart from scores of other neighborhood watering holes.

“I always hated the way the placed looked,” Sufak, 61, said of the oldest continuously operating bar in Pittsburgh. “It’s a unique building, but a lot of bad things were done to it for a long time.”

Susan Sufak, 60, said she and her husband were embarrassed about the way the building looked. “So when everybody around here started fixing up their properties a few years ago, we decided to do ours,” she said. “We didn’t want it to be known as the ugliest place on the street.”

The Sufaks are among 20 property owners in the city who will be honored Friday at the Pittsburgh Historic Review Commission’s 22nd annual preservation awards ceremony.

“Unlike some parts of the country, Pittsburgh has not had a substantial amount of government money available for people who want to do historic preservation,” said Angelique Bamberg, the city’s historic preservation planner. “We feel it’s important to recognize people who have taken the initiative and used private funds to preserve the historic fabric of our communities.”

Local historic preservationists say the restoration of older structures pays financial and cultural dividends.

“When Americans travel, it often is to historic cities,” said Arthur Ziegler, president of the Pittsburgh History & Landmarks Foundation. “We love to walk the streets of London, and visit the sites in Rome and Paris. The older buildings in this region are part of our cultural heritage. They are worth saving.”

State Sen. Jim Ferlo, a longtime activist in preserving the city’s historic buildings, said even if people cannot see the cultural benefits of saving older buildings, they should recognize the economic value.

“A decade ago, if anybody would have said lofts in older Lawrenceville buildings would be selling for $200,000- $250,000, they would have been laughed at,” said Ferlo, D-Highland Park, who serves on the state’s Historic and Museum Commission. “There clearly are tremendous development opportunities in historic preservation.”

Ziegler said attempts to revitalize Pittsburgh neighborhoods by replacing historic structures with new ones generally have failed, while efforts to restore older buildings have succeeded.

“Station Square has worked, Allegheny Center Mall didn’t,” Ziegler said. “The restoration of homes in the Mexican War Streets has been a success, while efforts in the 1960s to remake East Liberty with modern housing units failed.”

The loss of buildings with architectural treatments that cannot be reproduced are not the only casualties of demolition.

“When the old Market House on the North Side was torn down for Allegheny Center Mall, we lost what was the vital core of a community for 100 years,” Ziegler said.

“And the same thing happened with the absurd idea of putting a pedestrian mall in East Liberty. It seems that nearly every time we try replacing the old with the new, it’s a failure. I think there’s a lesson there.”


Projects that will be honored at the 22nd Annual Preservation Awards ceremony at noon Friday in Pittsburgh City Council chambers, 414 Grant St., Fifth Floor.

901 Allegheny Ave., Allegheny West — The Pittsburgh Presbytery
Owner: The Rev. Dr. James Mead, the Pittsburgh Presbytery
Architect: MacLachlan, Cornelius and Filoni Architects Inc.

307, 313 and 315 Terminal Way, South Side
Owner: Pittsburgh Terminal Properties
Architect: Jill Flannery Joyce, Joyce Design Group

900 East Carson St., South Side — George C. Cupples Stadium
Owner: Pittsburgh Board of Public Education
Architects: John A. Martine, Alan J. Cuteri, and Sean Beasley — STRADA

1290 Mifflin Road, Lincoln Place — Mifflin Elementary School
Owner: Pittsburgh Board of Public Education
Architects: John A. Martine, Alan J. Cuteri and Cas Pelligrini — STRADA

2000 E. Carson St., South Side — Southside Steaks
Tenant: Marc Feldstein
Architect: Jason Roth, Hanson Design Group

1609-13 E. Carson St., South Side — Former Lorch’s Department Store
Owner: 17th Street Partners
Architect: David Morgan, Morgan Associates Architects

4720 Fifth Ave., Oakland — Central Catholic High School
Owners: Catholic Institute of Pittsburgh, Diocese of Pittsburgh
Architects: David Brenenborg and Charles Brown, Brenenborg Brown Group

315 Shady Ave., Shadyside — Parish House at Calvary Episcopal Church
Owners: Calvary Episcopal Church
Architects: Kent Edwards and David L. Ross, The Design Alliance Architects

4905 Fifth Ave., Oakland — Rodef Shalom Temple
Owners: Rodef Shalom Congregation
Architects: David L. Ross and Bradley Smith, The Design Alliance Architects

1535 Lincoln Ave., Lincoln-Lemington — Powerhouse Full Gospel Holiness Church
Owner: Powerhouse Full Gospel Holiness Church
Architect: Jill Flannery Joyce, Joyce Design Group

410-16 North Craig St., Oakland — The Luna Lofts
Owner: 410-416 North Craig Street, LP
Architect: Dutch McDonald, EDGE Studio

6101 Penn Ave., East Liberty — Former Liberty Bank Building
Owner: Liberty Bank Building, LP
Architect: Dutch McDonald, EDGE Studio

5501 Elgin St., Highland Park — King Estate or Baywood
Owner: Dr. and Mrs. Frank H. Brown

3718-20 Butler St., Lawrenceville — Round Corner Tavern and Hotel
Owner: Dan and Susan Sufak
Architect: Keith H. Cochran, Cochran Associates Architects

3519 Butler St., Lawrenceville
Owner: 3811 Associates
Architect: Jill Flannery Joyce, Joyce Design Group

5165 Butler St., Lawrenceville
Owner: Wylie Holdings, LP
Architect: Jill Flannery Joyce, Joyce Design Group

5166 Butler St., Lawrenceville
Owner: Wylie Holdings, LP
Architect: Jill Flannery Joyce, Joyce Design Group

5169 Butler St., Lawrenceville
Owner: Wylie Holdings, L.P.
Architect: Jill Flannery Joyce, Joyce Design Group

4054 Penn Ave., Lawrenceville
Owner: Elizabeth Beroes
Architect: Jill Flannery Joyce, Joyce Design Group

145 44th St., Lawrenceville
Owner: William Cornell
Architect: Jill Flannery Joyce, Joyce Design Group

Tony LaRussa can be reached at

Pittsburgh History & Landmarks Foundation

100 West Station Square Drive, Suite 450

Pittsburgh, PA 15219

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