Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Preservationist Group Lists 10 Places to Save Mount Washington Sign Is No. 1 Choice

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Preservationist Group Lists 10 Places to Save Mount Washington Sign Is No. 1 Choice

Article excerpt

The 75-year-old "Pittsburgh" sign on Mount Washington was the leading choice for the Young Preservationists Association's 2012 "top 10" list, unveiled at its 10th anniversary celebration Saturday at the Union Project in Highland Park.

YPA, whose mission is to attract young people to preservation, targets endangered properties for its annual list. One criterion is feasibility of reuse, "because we want these to become success stories," said Dan Holland, CEO and founder of the YPA.

The 226-by-30-foot sign on Mount Washington is a mosaic that spells the city's name. When lighted, it has borne the Bayer Corp.'s logo since 1995.

"There is a debate around the billboard issue, and we have plenty of them," he said, "but let's take a look at this iconic and historic one and work with it."

Pittsburgh City Council's fight against billboards has been cited as stalling upgrades of the sign, but the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette recently reported that Lamar Advertising is considering improvements.

The rest of the Top 10 has the historic district of New Castle, Lawrence County; Mayview State Hospital, South Fayette; Greensboro Public School, Greene County; Beltzhoover School; Race Street in Homewood; Greenfield Bridge in Schenley Park; Turner Cemetery, Squirrel Hill; Canonsburg Armory; and the Bigelow Boulevard retaining wall, Hill District.

In New Castle, the 2-year-old Historical Architectural Review Board is promoting compliance with an ordinance that board chair Audrey Przybylski said "doesn't have a lot of teeth." The board had a groundswell of support from the public when the city tried to eliminate it, she said. "We have asked the city to put information out there to get people more knowledgeable."

Making the Top 10 list is "exciting, a thrill," she said. "We realize we have so much great architecture for a city this size, and this [selection] will educate people that it is something of value."

In the case of Mayview, Mr. Holland said it may not be practical to save it in total "but we thought the buildings that are architecturally valuable should be saved. It has potential as a New Urbanist, pedestrian-friendly community, like the one that is on the site of the former Stapleton Airport in Denver -- a great example of reuse. …

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