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UPMC: Kelly Center Demolition Begins Soon

Former nursing school largely unused since 2017

By Jason Togyer
The Tube City Almanac
March 04, 2024
Posted in: Announcements

Built in the early 1960s to house the hospital’s School of Nursing, the Kelly Center at UPMC McKeesport is being demolished this month. (Tube City Almanac photo)

Demolition of the J. Clarence Kelly Center at UPMC McKeesport will free up space on the hospital campus for future reuse, a spokeswoman for the health system said.

The six-story building, constructed in 1963-64 as a dormitory and classroom building for the former McKeesport Hospital School of Nursing has been completely vacant since 2017 and was used only for meeting space prior to its closure, said Sarah Deist, senior manager of public relations for UPMC McKeesport, UPMC East and other hospitals.

The windows were removed last week. Deist said the demolition is expected to be complete by the end of summer.

No disruption to hospital operations is expected and while there will be temporary parking restrictions near the construction area, no long-term inconveniences are expected, Deist said.

UPMC has not announced plans for the vacant property but is eyeing the parcel as a possible space for future reuse, she said.

The Kelly Center, named for longtime prominent McKeesport physician J. Clarence Kelly, was constructed as part of a $10 million expansion program in the early 1960s and included four floors of dormitory spaces for nurses, as well as well as three laboratories, two classrooms and a 140-seat auditorium.

Funding came in part from the federal Hill-Burton Act and the state Department of Public Welfare.

In this photo from 1963, Margaret Buell, director of nursing at McKeesport Hospital, breaks ground for the Kelly Center as hospital board members and the architects look on. (McKeesport Daily News photo/Tube City Online collection)

At the time of its opening in March 1965, the nursing school had 160 students, according to an article in The Pittsburgh Press.

But in 1971, the McKeesport Hospital School of Nursing closed and students were transferred to Community College of Allegheny County.

Nursing education at UPMC McKeesport is currently part of the UPMC St. Margaret School of Nursing.

In 1986, the former nurses’ rooms at the Kelly Center were converted into a long-term care facility for the elderly. In more recent years, the Kelly Center housed a day-care center, medical library and some doctors’ offices, as well as a teaching center for the internal medicine program.

Since the construction of the Usman Ahmad Memorial Conference Center in the Mansfield Building, the Kelly Center’s meeting spaces had become obsolete, Deist said.

“As part of our ongoing program to beautify the campus, we wanted to remove the older building since it was no longer in use,” Deist said. “Nothing has been decided about the space, but it will be available for future use.”

Originally published March 04, 2024.

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