West Overton Museums director resigns amid controversy
The controversial director of West Overton Museums said she resigned amid calls by board members to cut her pay and her concerns that a renovation already under way had been abandoned.
Kelly Linn, 50, of Monongahela said she submitted her resignation Thursday, the day her contract expired.
“I have to say I'm a little disappointed,” Linn said. “I was under the impression there was room for further discussion. I was told on Nov. 1 that there would be no further discussion.”
“She gave us a letter of resignation,” said Brian Corcoran, president of the museum's board of directors. “We're moving ahead. We wish her well.”
Jessica Kadie-Barclay, assistant executive director, will serve as interim executive director, he said.
Corcoran was emphatic that renovations will continue at the site, the birthplace of Old Farm Pure Rye Whiskey in the early 1800s and of industrial magnate Henry Clay Frick on Dec. 19, 1849.
Earlier this year, Linn was sharply criticized by some in the art and history community for selling furniture and artifacts in West Overton's collection without first getting professional appraisals.
Most controversial was the sale of a rare, 200-year-old mahogany desk to a local antique dealer for $500. The dealer resold the desk for more than $8,700, though experts estimated the value at $50,000. A Virginia dealer who later sold the piece to a private collector declined to reveal the price.
But Corcoran said the sale of the items was never a point of contention with Linn.
Linn admits she clashed with board members over concerns they had decided to stop ongoing renovations at the East Huntingdon complex, which centers on the birthplace of industrialist Henry Clay Frick, who made a fortune turning coal into coke for steel production.
The museum initially was established to replicate life in an 18th-century farming community, but Linn said she persuaded the board to refocus on West Overton's whiskey-making history and renovate an on-site distillery.
The museum reopened in September after being closed for 16 months as Linn oversaw the renovation of the Overholt Distillery, where Frick's grandfather, Abraham Overholt, produced rye whiskey, she said.
That first phase of the project cost $50,000 and phase two was expected to cost about $25,000, Linn said.
She said the first phase hit a “financial snag” when officials had to dip into the facility's operating budget to pay for repairs to other buildings on the site.
When the board asked her to consider a cut in her $36,000 annual salary, Linn said, she refused.
She said at some point, the board decided it wanted to return to the way things “were before the renovation.”
Corcoran disputed Linn's claims, saying directors plan to move ahead with the second phase of the project with some “budget changes.”
“We're still going to move forward. Financially, we're in very good shape,” he added.
Linn said she had no choice but to move on from the West Overton post.
“I took a huge cut in pay to come here because I thought the place needed some attention. I thought I was the person to help them,” said Linn, who had been the curator at Fort Pitt Blockhouse at Point State Park.
“I could not work for less and do more,” she said. “It was more or less an impasse. I just could not continue there with less pay.
Richard Gazarik is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-830-6292 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Rossi: Steelers’ tarnished Bell rings true
- Ligonier Township K-9 officer home to recover from deadly collision
- Unity resident again accused of burglary
- Ex-Delmont man found dead in Florida
- Vandals ruin Ligonier Township farmers’ garden
- Arrest made in 2014 case of Blawnox man found dead in Oakland
- Tight supply pushes home prices higher
- Duquesne University to raise minimum wage floor
- Pirates win 5th straight as offense continues to click in win over Marlins
- Pittsburgh Mayor Peduto in Cuba on manufacturing trade mission
- Greek debt fears, surge in dollar nip at stock market