Group Aims to Protect Historic Pittsburgh

Article excerpt

The closed Nabisco bakery building in East Liberty and Kaufmann's -- now Macy's -- Downtown department store are historic properties that deserve added protection from demolition or significant alteration, a local preservationist group says.

So does the McCook house, the limestone mansion built in Shadyside in 1906 for the family of Willis McCook, a Scottish immigrant and prominent Pittsburgh attorney who served as a lawyer for industrialist Henry Clay Frick.

There are 130 historic properties and 15 city neighborhoods that are not covered by the city's historic landmark ordinance, according to the Young Preservationists Association of Pittsburgh.

The group, formed in 2002 to bring younger residents into the fight for preservation of historic resources, today plans to release the results of a study, "Unprotected Pittsburgh," that will identify the properties and neighborhoods.

"Our purpose is to raise the awareness of these sites which have no historic protection, and leave it up to the property owners, the communities and the City Historic Review Commission to seek that protection," said Dan Holland, the group's chairman.

"We are not necessarily recommending that all these properties should be designated as historic, but to make people aware that an important tool is available to designate and preserve these structures and districts," he said.

An advance summary of the group's findings shows a "top 10 list" of unprotected sites and the 15 recommended historic districts.

"These sites are architecturally or historically significant, represent major community landmarks, and are defining symbols of Pittsburgh," says the summary. "YPA believes that if these sites were altered or demolished, they would leave a huge void in the community and the region."

In addition to the Nabisco, Kaufmann's and McCook properties, the top ten include four sites related to African-American history, such as the Hill District birthplace and home of the late Pulitzer Prize- winning playwright August Wilson.

Others are the Crawford Grill Number 2 site in the Hill District; first home of the National Negro Opera Co. …