If you have next Wednesday afternoon off and are casting about for a learning experience, consider attending the Historic Review Commission’s monthly meeting of hearings.
Most Pittsburghers don’t live in historic districts and of those who do, most of them don’t know what it means in terms of individual license to alter property.
The commission is made up of seven people, including the planning director and the chief of building inspection. They consider requests to change almost anything about the outside of a building in districts that the city has deemed historic and on individual buildings deemed historic, (which some people would love to see happen for the Civic Arena, pictured here.) Some of those districts are also on the national register.
The meeting starts at 12.30p and lasts sometimes two or three hours, and sometimes the air in the first floor hearing room of the Robin Civic Building, 200 Ross St., is stuffy... but oh the fun you could have!
The characters besides the commission are folks who want to make changes or who -- oops!-- already did it... and they now sit across from the commission caught red handed. Not only did they act without authorization but their alterations are jarring and/or all wrong historically.
Some are genuinely chagrinned that they have spent significant money on an inappropriate replacement. If only they had known. They leave with the instruction to do it over, but on my walkabouts I see old transgressions galore.
The July 7 hearings include application for a building demolition and new construction plan for an Aldi supermarket at 2628 E. Carson St. on the South Side; and demolition of a non-contributing building at the Iron City Brewery in Lawrenceville, which is one of the city’s most recent historic landmarks. (The Historic Review Commission also considers applications for a site to become a landmark.)
Here’s a sampling of what else is in store on July 7, and you can see for yourself the full list at http://www.city.pittsburgh.pa.us/cp/assets/historic_review_commission/2010/10-july7_agenda.pdf:
-- Market Square, 24 Graeme Street, 1902 Landmark Tavern: continuation of a hearing about storefront rehabilitation and installation of doors;
-- Schenley Farms, 4100 Bigelow Blvd., application for new construction by the North American Islamic Trust;
-- Allegheny West, 939 Beech Ave., a ramp and exterior fenestration at the Calvary United Methodist Church;
-- Allegheny Commons Park, replacement of signage at the National Aviary.
I know! I can’t wait either.
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