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Heinz grant to revitalize Hill District theater

Pittsburgh Post GazetteThursday, May 10, 2007
By Ervin Dyer,
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

The fading New Granada Theatre in the Hill District moved a step closer to new life yesterday, thanks to a $200,000 grant from The Heinz Endowments that will begin the process of stabilizing the storied theater.

The New Granada, one of the last remaining works of early 20th-century African-American architecture in Western Pennsylvania, is weathered from 40 years of neglect and non-use.

“We are so excited,” said Marimba Milliones, a member of a Hill committee leading the way to polish up the former movie house and ballroom. “The Granada is just the heart and soul of the Hill. Its rehab will re-awaken the hope and belief that the Hill is going to be a great community again.”

The Hill District grant will go to the Pittsburgh History & Landmarks Foundation, working with the Hill Community Development Corp. to begin stabilizing the structure of the New Granada.

The building will require as much as $2 million to complete stabilization. The Heinz funding will be matched with a grant from the state Department of Community and Economic Development. The funding also will support a team of local and national consultants studying possible uses for the theater.

The theater funding was among 221 grants totaling $36.9 million that The Heinz Endowments approved during a two-day meeting of the foundation board that ended yesterday.

The largest grant, $5 million, went to Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh to create the Pediatric Environmental Medicine Center.

The program will be housed at the $575 million, green-certified hospital under construction in Lawrenceville,

The center will focus first on developing new approaches for the prevention and treatment of asthma due to its prevalence in minority and medically under-served communities, but also in response to recent reports identifying Pittsburgh as second from the bottom in air quality among American cities.

But the Environmental Medicine Center also will have the broader goal of making consideration of environmental links to health problems standard in any medical setting.

The grants reflect The Heinz Endowments’ new plan to shift at least 30 percent of its philanthropy over the next five years to special areas of concentration. These include supporting the reform of the Pittsburgh Public Schools; assistance with wiser economic development that is technologically and environmentally sound; and influencing the direction of Downtown development.

One grant that does the last is $200,000 for construction opportunities that will go to the Community Loan Fund of Southwestern Pennsylvania in partnership with the Minority and Women Educational Labor Agency. It is designed to help minority- and women-owned businesses to increase capacity so that they can successfully participate in larger construction jobs, especially those stemming from the boom in Downtown development.

The program will provide financial backing for certification requirements that will allow these firms to bid on progressively larger projects.

Other grants approved yesterday include:

$3 million to the Carnegie Museum of Art to cover costs of repairs made to skylights and ceilings in its galleries.

$2 million to the Pittsburgh Public Schools to continue the foundation’s support for Superintendent Mark Roosevelt’s Excellence for All Initiative.

$2 million to the Carnegie Library to provide renovation, remodeling and educational resources for branches in the Hill District, North Side and East Liberty.

$2 million to the Manchester Craftsmen’s Guild to assist in establishing a $10 million endowment, and to support a new business plan designed to improve program quality and operating performance.

$747,000 to Citizens for Pennsylvania’s Future for continued operating support of the environmental nonprofit.

A total of $700,000 to several grantees to support continued growth of charter and faith-based schools.

(Ervin Dyer can be reached at or 412-263-1410. )

Pittsburgh History & Landmarks Foundation

100 West Station Square Drive, Suite 450

Pittsburgh, PA 15219

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