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Part of Beloved Dormont Cinema to be Preserved

By Al Lowe
Thursday, September 9, 2010

History buffs got some good news at the Dormont Council meeting. Although Dormont’s South Hills Theater along West Liberty Avenue has been razed and will be replaced by a CVS store, its memories will live on because of plans to reassemble the theater’s box office and put it in the lobby of the municipal building.

“All I know is that I got a phone call one day at 3:30 p.m. and was told if I wanted the ticket booth, I better have it picked up by 4 p.m.,” said Muriel Moreland, who is president of the Dormont Historical Society. Her late husband, William, was the borough’s mayor for 24 years, until 1989.

Sections of the box office are being kept in her garage, off Espy Avenue.

“I hope they come get it soon because I have to put my lawn furniture there,” she said.

The Dormont municipal building has three rooms set aside for the Historical Society, which recently received a lot of memorabilia from the theater, including two masks denoting comedy and tragedy that once hung in the theater’s lobby. The theater opened in 1928 and closed in 2001, Moreland said.

Council member Joan Hodson said Monday, that, like many others, she and her husband, Jim, used to take their children to the theater. She said her husband will help to reassemble the box office in the lobby.

In other business, council voted 5-2 to pass a resolution in response to the Keystone Oaks School District’s proposal to close schools.

The resolution, written by Councilman John Maggio, states that council supports neighborhood schools and renews a willingness to collaborate with the district on planning efforts.

Heather Schmidt and Laurie Malkin cast the opposing votes.

They said they had no problems with the resolution, except for its timing. They thought that council should consider passing the resolution after a task force studying the district’s plans makes its recommendation.

Keystone Oaks is considering closing two kindergarten-through-fifth-grade elementary schools, Myrtle in Castle Shannon and Aiken in Green Tree, and converting Dormont Elementary from a K-5 school to a K-3 school for students from all three boroughs. The current middle school would be used for grades four through six, and the current high school would house grades seven through 12; grades seven eight would be kept apart from grades nine through 12.

Pittsburgh History & Landmarks Foundation

100 West Station Square Drive, Suite 450

Pittsburgh, PA 15219

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