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1930s filling station demolished

| Thursday, Oct. 11, 2012, 8:17 a.m.
Bill Pribisco
The Donato filling station, built in 1938 along the Lincoln Highway, is demolished by Don Laudadio of Ligonier last week. Portions of the building that date to the original construction were removed prior to the demolition to become part of a facade of the station planned for the Lincoln Highway Experience Museum. Photo taken by Bill Pribisco on Friday, October 5, 2012 at Rt 259and Rt 30. Bill Pribisco | For the Ligonier Echo

In 1937, Joseph and Josephine Donato built a one-room, frame filling station to serve the then recently-relocated Lincoln Highway. Last week, the final remnants of that building were demolished, but not before significant portions of the historic building, those features that represent its original design when it was built, were salvaged by its owners, the Lincoln Highway Heritage Corridor.

The organization purchased the property in August 2004 with plans to develop the Lincoln Highway Experience Museum on the site located at the intersection of state Route 259 and Route 30 in Ligonier Township. The original plans called for the features of the filling station to be restored to its original 1938 time period and relocated inside the proposed museum.

“After professional evaluation of the former Donato filling station, it was determined that after the portions of the structure (rest room addition and east concrete block addition) that fall outside of the filling station's period of interpretation are removed, and after the deteriorated portions (floor and roof) of the filling station are replaced, there will not be sufficient historic fabric remaining to warrant restoration of it,” said Olga Herbert, executive director of the organization.

Two front windows, the western front door and overhang, and some of the wooden siding were salvaged. Using historic photographs, a facade of the front portion of the station will be reconstructed at the museum located at 3435 Route 30 East.

“We will restore the exterior wood frame portion of the filling station,” said Herbert. “In addition we will recreate the lapped-siding roof. The new paint scheme will reflect the original white exterior with dark trim when the station was first built.”

The remaining tourist cabin located at the rear of the Route 259 property will be relocated to the Lincoln Highway Experience shortly. A second cabin is currently being restored and will be placed inside the Experience Museum. The site will continue to be maintained by the Lincoln Highway group.

“We have directed the contractor who is doing the filling station work to fill with dirt and seed it. The site will remain a green space,” said Herbert.

She said they plan to install a split-rail fence at the property in 2013.

The group also owns the property on the east side of Route 259 where the Lincoln Highway Roadside Giant gas pump stands. The 25-foot, 4,900-pound replica of a 1940s Bennett gas pump was designed and fabricated by students at Eastern Westmoreland Career and Technology Center in Latrobe in 2008.

In an ongoing effort to preserve and promote the history of the Lincoln Highway, the group called upon high school students in five different career and technology schools along the 200-mile Lincoln Highway Heritage Corridor to create a super-sized metal sculpture. The project involved collaboration among the schools' graphic arts, welding, building trades and culinary arts departments.

Deborah A. Brehun is a staff editor for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-238-2111 or

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