This is Board Member Mike Panzitta, and I’m here to bring back the new and (hopefully improved) Young Preservationists Association blog. To kick it off, I’m going to talk about preservationists in Buffalo, New York.
Let me explain.
About half a year ago, YPA PGH was contacted by Bernice Radle of Buffalo’s Young Preservationists, an organization founded after some Buffalonians (Buffalo-ites? Buffa-locals? I’ll look that up later) were inspired by the YPA here in Pittsburgh and decided to start a group of their own.
So fellow board members Katy Sawyer, Derek Eversmann, and I packed it up and headed north. I took my camera so I could polish up my burgeoningdeveloping nonexistent photography skills while meeting some super cool Buffa-locals (yeah, I liked that one the best).
All in all, it was a great trip, Getting in contact with BYP has snowballed into reaching out to young preservationists in Cleveland, Indiana, and other places throughout the Rust Belt, inspiring us to begin planning a Preservation Summit to be held here in Pittsburgh this April. More to come in future posts!
If you’re looking to do some preservation, Buffalo-style, come to our Heart Bomb Workshop on February 2nd, where we’ll be using some of the ideas we learned from Bernice and other BYP-ers to show how much we care about some of our Top Ten sites. Read more about the Heart Bomb initiatives here.
Nominated by community members, the Top Ten highlights endangered historic sites that have are good possibilities for restoration and reuse. Among the hundreds of sites nominated over the past decade, we can count several success stories such as the Armstrong Cork Factory, The Union Project, and the Dormont Pool, that all demonstrate the economic and community benefits of historic preservation.
The Top Ten will be the focus of our programming over the next year, as we seek to bring attention to these viable opportunities for renewal. By keeping them in the spotlight, we hope to increase their chances of a brighter future!
More than 20 volunteers spent three hours cleaning up the abandoned house on Apple Street in Pittsburgh’s Homewood neighborhood, better known as the first home of the National Negro Opera Company, on Saturday, November 29, 2008.
YPA teamed up with RenewPittsburgh to board up and clean up the 7,000 square-foot Victorian. The board-up/clean-up effort was an important step toward the restoration of the historic house.
In addition to RenewPittsburgh, YPA is grateful to PA State Senator Jim Ferlo and Operation Better Block.
Built in 1894, the house on Apple Street was first purchased by Pittsburgh numbers king Woogie Harris, in 1930. Woogie Harris was the brother of famed photographer Teenie Harris. The house served as the home of the first black opera company in the United States. The NNOC was started by Homestead native Mary Cardwell Dawson in 1941. The NNOC grew to include a number of chapters around the country. First Lady Elanor Roosevelt and Marian Anderson were honorary board chairs. Among the people who came through the house include Ahmad Jamal and Lena Horne. The house also hosted a number of Steelers, including Roy Jefferson, John Nesby, and Marvin Woodson, as well as Roberto Clemente.
YPA coordinated the replacement of a state historical marker in 2007 (the original one had been ripped down). That same day, both the Mayor of Pittsburgh and City Council issued proclamations honoring the National Negro Opera Company. The house became a City Historic Landmark in spring 2008 and is eligible for listing on the National Register of Historic Places.
A condemnation notice was issued on November 7, 2008, which inspired YPA to take action to ameliorate the condition. YPA has also established a separate fund for the house’s restoration. Donations can be directed to the YPA NNOC Fund and sent to our Homestead headquarters:
Young Preservationists Association of Pittsburgh
110 East Eighth Avenue
Homestead, PA 15120
Inquiries can be directed to firstname.lastname@example.org
YPA’s Wheeling Through History, held on Saturday, September 20, 2008, was a great success for all who attended. YPA’s core tour, the North Side Tour, was supplemented with two new tours, South Side and Strip District-Lawrenceville.
Cyclists joined YPA, Venture Outdoors, and Rivers of Steel as they embarked on a journey through history on information-age bikes on a sunny, warm Saturday, from 9:00 a.m. to noon. Visitors were afforded a contemporary view of Pittsburgh’s most historic neighborhoods by neighborhood residents, such as the Neighbors in the Strip, Lawrenceville Historical Society, Rivers of Steel, Mexican War Streets Society, Pittsburgh Children’s Museum, and the Manchester Historical Society.
Among the responses from tour participants was, “I had no idea! There’s so much history I didn’t know about, and it was so fun to learn.” Another participant said, “I had SUCH a good time! Thanks for putting it together! Would love to bring some folks to take the Wheeling Through History tour… now that I know how absolutely cool it is!”
YPA is grateful to Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield for sponsoring the tours. Support also came from City Councilman Patrick Dowd, the Heinz History Center, Rivers of Steel, and the Urban Redevelopment Authority. YPA thanks all those who volunteered their time to make the three tours a great success.