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Repairs on North Side library branch expected by early summer

Pittsburgh Tribune ReviewBy Bill Zlatos
Tuesday, April 10, 2007

The Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh expects to finish repairing damage done by a lightning bolt at the former Allegheny branch by early this summer.
“In the next few weeks, they’ll place the actual capstone upon the clock tower,” said library spokeswoman Suzanne Thinnes.

Lightning struck the 117-year-old, Romanesque-style library in the North Side’s Allegheny Square on April 7, 2006. It has been closed since, and plans call for it to no longer be used as a library.

A piece of granite weighing several hundred pounds fell into the lecture hall on the second floor, and a one-ton chunk destroyed the building’s heating and cooling system and damaged waterlines.

The collapse did not injure anyone or damage the library’s collection.

The repairs will cost an estimated $2 million. Insurance will cover most of that, Thinnes said.

North Side-based Mascaro Construction is doing the work. “We chose them because they have expertise in repairing historical buildings,” she said.

The building was named a historic landmark by Pittsburgh History & Landmarks Foundation in 1970 and placed on the National Register of Historic Places four years later.

“The work that’s going on is helping its historical fabric, not hurting it,” assured foundation President Arthur P. Ziegler Jr.

Carnegie Library is planning a new building along Federal Street, and will not be using the Allegheny branch building after the repairs are done.

The New Hazlett Theater and a city senior citizen center occupy the building. Landmark Design Associates, a South Side firm, is studying possible uses for the space once used by the library.

Ziegler said one option is office space, possibly for a nonprofit group.

The library hopes to break ground on the Federal Street building this fall, Thinnes said.

Bill Zlatos can be reached at or (412) 320-7828.

Pittsburgh History & Landmarks Foundation

100 West Station Square Drive, Suite 450

Pittsburgh, PA 15219

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