Conflict of Interest Note: The editor of Tube City Almanac, Jason Togyer, has a conflict of interest involving this story.
(Photo by Nyttend via Wikimedia Commons)
McKeesport's Penn-McKee Hotel has been named the Number One preservation opportunity in Western Pennsylvania by the group currently studying whether or not the building can be saved and reused.
At a ceremony Friday at Alphabet City on Pittsburgh's North Side, the Young Preservationists Association of Pittsburgh unveiled its annual list of the 10 neglected historic or architectural sites that are most worthy of rescue.
The Penn-McKee was named the number one site because it has both historic and architectural value, the group said.
According to YPA, the Penn-McKee is an example of mid-1920s Art Deco style and was designed by a noted architect, Benno Janssen; as for its historic value, the Penn-McKee was the site of many important local events and one important national event --- a 1947 debate between future presidents Richard Nixon and John F. Kennedy.
YPA was contracted in July by McKeesport city council to conduct an environmental assessment of hazards in the building, as well as a feasibility study for the Penn-McKee's reuse.
Matthew Craig, executive director of YPA, said preliminary environmental data on the site has been collected, but a complete report won't be available until early next year.
Other Mon Valley sites on the YPA "Top 10" list include:
- Landmark Place, a former Eagles lodge located at Eighth and Donner avenues in Monessen, Westmoreland County: One of the last original downtown buildings in that city's west end, Landmark Place was later used as a union hall, bowling alley and dancing pavilion.
- Old Elizabeth Cemetery, Bayard Street, Elizabeth: Elizabeth was settled in 1787 and the graveyard opened a few years later, the YPA said, accepting whites, free blacks and slaves, unlike most other cemeteries, which were segregated. The cemetery closed in the 1860s and some graves have since been relocated.
- Hays Mansion, Munhall: Located just off Whitaker Way, the Hays Mansion, also known as Harden Place, was built in 1832 by the descendants of Abraham Hays, one of the founders of Pittsburgh. The house was expanded over the years and later became a stop on the Underground Railroad. It narrowly escaped demolition several times in the 2000s and volunteers are now raising money to restore it.
JaQuay Carter was honored with the YPA's 2018 Dan Holland Promise Award. Named for the YPA's founding chief executive officer, the award recognizes outstanding young people engaged in historic preservation.
Carter, a graduate of Steel Valley High School and Community College of Allegheny County, is the founder of the Greater Hazelwood Historical Society and a professional genealogist and historian.
Editor's Note: The editor of Tube City Almanac, Jason Togyer, has a conflict of interest. He has been involved in efforts to reuse the Penn-McKee Hotel and currently sits on the McKee's Point Development Group, a volunteer committee studying the project.
Originally published October 08, 2018.