Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Preservation Work to Begin at the Fort Pitt Block House

We just received an email from one of our Public History graduate program alums, Emily Hoover, who is the Curator at the Fort Pitt Block House here in Pittsburgh. She announced that starting today, the Block House will be undergoing a 10-month restoration and preservation project. Read on to learn more about this exciting enterprise!

The Fort Pitt Society, owners and stewards of Pittsburgh’s oldest authenticated structure, the Fort Pitt Block House, will begin a 10-month preservation and restoration project today.  The project, funded with gifts from an anonymous donor and the Colcom Foundation, will provide needed repair and restoration work on the nearly 250 year old structure.

Built in 1764, the Block House is all that remains of Fort Pitt, the largest and most elaborate British fort in North America and a key defense during the French and Indian War in the Western Hemisphere.  The Block House has stood in its same location for nearly 250 years – a witness to Pittsburgh’s history as a frontier fort, large industrial center, and leading modern city.  Given to the Fort Pitt Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution of Allegheny County in 1894, the Block House has remained free and open to visitors from around the nation and the world for over a century. 

Much of the architectural fabric of the two story structure is intact in that the stone foundation, bricks and timber elements are largely original to its 1764 construction.  Both floors have a course of wooden gun loopholes going around the building, providing a 360 degree view for the soldiers who were stationed in the Block House to keep watch over the fort.  The soldiers in the Block House and the other redoubts around the fort provided a first line of defense; they could fire their muskets through the gun loops at anyone trying to attack.

“Our highest priority is to insure the stability of the gun loop timbers,” said Ellis Schmidlapp, of Landmarks Design Associates, architect for the Block House restoration project.  “We have contracted with TUV Rheinland Industrial Solutions, Inc. to perform radiographic inspection services on the timbers to assure that this preservation project is managed conscientiously to preserve the maximum amount of the original timbers.  As with work on any historic building our efforts at the Block House will first focus on conservation, followed by preservation and lastly by restoration.”

Based on the information provided by the radiographic tests, work is projected to begin on the gun loops in April as some of the processes to be used are temperature sensitive.  Masonry restoration and French drain repairs are expected to be complete by August and the final phase of the project, interior repairs, should be finished by the end of October 2013.   The Block House will remain open to the public as much as possible during the restoration.  Visitors are encouraged to stop by to see the progress, hours of operation as well as photos and updates will be posted on the Block House Facebook page. 

“In 2014, the Fort Pitt Block House will celebrate its 250th anniversary,” said Joanne Ostergaard, member of the Fort Pitt Society and Coordinator of Block House 250.  “This restoration project is a critical first step in our efforts to create a city-wide celebration to recognize this significant milestone.  The Block House is quite literally where Pittsburgh began, it is our goal to ensure that it continues to stand as an enduring symbol of American strength and tenacity so that future generations can know and appreciate the important role our region played in history.”

About The Fort Pitt Block House
The Fort Pitt Society is a supporting organization of the Pittsburgh Chapter of the National Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution.  The Fort Pitt Society owns, operates and maintains the Fort Pitt Block House and the surrounding grounds as a historical site and museum, and promotes preservation, education, and public awareness of Pittsburgh's role in early American history. Located in Point State Park, the Fort Pitt Block House is free and open to the public Friday through Sunday between 10:30 am and 4:30 pm during the winter months. Call 412-471-1764 for more information or to schedule a tour.

About TÜV Rheinland Industrial Solutions
TÜV Rheinland Industrial Solutions is a full-service inspection, testing and certification company providing both field and laboratory inspection services, including all NDT methods, QC/QA functions, and material testing. A subsidiary of TUV Rheinland North America, TRIS laboratory and field services are ISO 17025 accredited, and its mechanical laboratory services are both Nadcap and ISO accredited. For more information, visit www.tuv.com/us.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Collaborative Lecture at Carnegie Mellon University, Jan.25

Now that the Spring 2013 semester is in full swing, it's time to start marking up your calendars with fun, interesting, and educational events!

The Center for African American Urban Studies and the Economy (CAUSE) at Carnegie Mellon University will hold its next lecture as part of its 2012-2013 speakers series in collaboration with the Heinz History Center's exhibit, "From Slavery to Freedom," on Friday, January 25, 2013. Don't miss out!

lecture flyer