Our city is undergoing a great renaissance–a renewal of purpose and form, and shaking off the rust of decay that too quickly seeps into the infrastructure. In my first couple of weeks as the new Executive Director of the YPA, I sat with other consultant groups trying to come to an agreement with Point Park University about preserving the facades on Forbes Avenue from the buildings being demolished as part of this great renewal. I offered this old joke: how many people in Pittsburgh does it take to change a light bulb? The answer is three: one to change it and two to talk about how much they preferred the old one. But now, as I listen to what those two people have to say about that old “light bulb” I found out that it was pretty interesting; in fact, VERY interesting. Which brings me to how my first month on the job has been: VERY interesting!
One of the first things that I wanted to do–mostly out of respect, but also out of curiosity–was to reach out to the founder of YPA, Dan Holland, to learn what he and his Board had set out to do, what they had accomplished, and what pieces were waiting for us to pick up and carry forward, such as the National Negro Opera House in Homewood. Dan and his band did amazing work and have left a strong legacy for us to stand on; a foundation from which we can continue to build. I would like to here thank Dan and all of the others who dedicated so much of their time and effort for all of the good work they have done.
I am also greatly impressed with the current leadership of the Board of Directors, and with the impressive talent that they have assembled for the work ahead. Their attention to detail and the networking that they have all done in so many areas will make the work that I have to do so much easier.
I am also very thankful for all of you who are taking the time to read our newsletter. Thanks for being a vital part of our growing network and for keeping us abreast on the ongoing needs of preserving the great historical structures that make our region so rich. I am looking forward to meeting you and working together on what we know to be important.
My wife’s father is a master brick layer, and when you’ve studied the work of a master, you can more fully appreciate the artistry and the hard-working hands that built the structures that we all want to preserve. I was thinking about him as I wrote this:
All of our stories are written in the bricks and mortar; our higher aspirations carved in terra cotta.