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Historic stone house demolished next to Monsour Hospital

| Wednesday, March 5, 2014, 9:00 p.m.
John Howard | The Jeannette Spirit
The historic stone house on the Monsour property has been demolished. The building had been set on fire several times in recent years and had become dangerous.

Work to demolish the vacant, dilapidated and dangerous buildings on the Monsour Hospital site has begun — albeit on the smallest portion of the property.

Funding from the Neighborhood Partnership Program has helped to bring down two of the outlying buildings on the property — the green-roofed house and the stone house known as Senator Brown's Mansion were the first to go.

Westmoreland County Industrial Development Corp. hopes to acquire the property this year and developed this demolition plan.

City solicitor Scott Avolio has long advocated starting some of this smaller demolition work as a way to show progress, something that is increasingly important as Jeannette continues to seek state funding to demolish the largest Monsour structures.

When a $65,000 grant was refunded to the city last fall — after a failed attempt to build a recreation center resulted in criminal charges filed against a contractor who was required to return the money — Avolio began pitching the idea of using those funds as sort of a down payment toward the Monsour demolition.

The county is asking for about $1 million in state funds to pay for the complete demolition and Avolio said using the grant money as the city's portion of the cost could go a long way toward convincing the state that Jeannette is invested in this project.

The grant was given to the city through WAM funding — known as Walking Around Money ­ essentially given to legislators or departments to distribute at their discretion to municipalities in their districts.

WAM funding doesn't exist in the same way anymore and Avolio feels the Department of Community and Economic Development may permit the city to use the money in a different way rather than forcing Jeannette to return the grant in full.

If the county obtains the $1 million in funding, the development group will raze the tower along Route 30 so the property can be redeveloped.

The stone house was adjacent to the hospital along Route 30. Known as Senator Brown's Mansion, it was built in 1783 and at one time was the residence of Dr. Robert Monsour.

The building was heavily damaged by fire last year and poses a danger to pedestrians and motorists because of its proximity to the highway.

A barricade will be set up around the main tower of the center to prevent vandals and trespassers from entering because it could collapse. The county will raze the hospital. Avolio hopes the tower will be gone by next year.

Kristie Linden is an editor for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at klinden@tribweb.com or 724-838-5154.

Richard Gazarik, a staff writer for Trib Total Media, contributed to this report.

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