Micro-distillery coming to Munhall with help from Steel Valley Enterprise Zone Corp. funding

| Friday, Feb. 8, 2013, 12:21 a.m.

The former John Munhall Neighborhood House in Munhall is being turned into a distillery.

The building at 810 Ravine St. is being renovated to house Stay Tuned Distillery, set to open this summer, which will make and sell small-batch gins and Copper Fox whiskey.

Steel Valley Enterprise Zone Corp. provided a $70,000 loan to Stay Tuned Distillery for renovations and business investment.

“We are thrilled to be a part of this great community,” distillery president Lee Ann Sommerfeld said. “My granddad was a coal miner and my dad was a steelworker so I feel a true connection to the roots of this area. The neighborhood house has a special history and we are working hard to honor that. Stay Tuned is truly a micro-distillery dedicated to making small batches. Our partners, Copper Fox Distillery, have been pioneers in this arena for 13 years. We are fortunate to have such amazing mentors. Most importantly, I want us all to have a really good time with this.”

She added, “The loan from the Enterprise Zone was essential to helping us make this happen.”

Steel Valley Enterprise Zone coordinates the state-designated enterprise zone program and serves Homestead, Munhall, West Homestead and Pittsburgh's 31st Ward.

“This is a unique and exciting business opening in the area,” enterprise zone president Catherine Lesko said. “We believe they will attract many new people to the Steel Valley, complementing the other new businesses that have recently opened along with attractions like the Carnegie Library, the Bulgarian-Macedonian National Educational and Cultural Center, the Steel Industry Heritage Corp. and the Great Allegheny Passage bike trail.”

Munhall Mayor Raymond Bodnar said the borough welcomes the distillery.

John Munhall originally constructed a small chapel at 810 Ravine St. for the Presbyterian mission in 1894, according to Whitaker United Methodist Church's history. It said William McMasters, a member of Fourth Avenue Methodist Church, asked John Munhall if the structure could be used as a Methodist Sunday school after the Presbyterian mission was unsuccessful. The church's history said Pittsburgh Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church then asked in 1895 for a pastor to organize a church, which was done when Benjamin B. Wolf was appointed as the new Munhall Methodist Episcopal Church pastor. Two years later, the building was expanded to meet the demands of the growing church school.

Because most of the Munhall church's members were from Whitaker, parishioners decided to find a new building in that borough in 1920. The building along Ravine Street was bought by the United Methodist Church Union, which turned it into the John Munhall Neighborhood House and Community Center.

The John Munhall Neighborhood House merged with the Homestead Community Center in 1973 to form the Methodist Union of Social Agencies, according to a published report.

The site also has been used by a building supply company.

Stacy Lee is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-664-9161, ext. 1970, or slee@tribweb.com.

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