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Donors boost plans for Export historical center

| Wednesday, July 30, 2014, 9:00 p.m.

Plans to renovate a former Export church into a historical center recently got a boost after a few pledges were put forward to match a local grant.

Councilwoman Melanie Litz said the parish of Emmanuel Lutheran Church in Murrysville provided the $1,000 matching grant to help fund a project at the former Roosevelt Avenue church building, which the borough now owns.

Litz said the money was set aside from the church's outreach ministries to assist with plans for the former Lutheran church, which officials hope to develop into a historical education center.

“If it (the money) was matched by community donations, then they would give it to us,” said Litz, who is also chairwoman of the historical society.

During a discussion about the grant at a recent council meeting, two individuals who had already committed $400 toward the match each offered an additional $200 pledge.

Litz said the Murrysville Historical Society also had enough members at the meeting to decide to pledge the remaining $200.

“We got the matching funds right at the meeting to qualify for the $1,000 matching grant,” Litz said.

Councilman John Nagoda said it's nice to see people stepping up to the plate.

“They want to preserve their history. They're anteing money up to do that, and that's a good thing,” Nagoda said.

“We've had a lot of volunteers work very hard to get this all started and preserve that church. It's a historical building,” he said.

Emmanuel Lutheran Church moved its congregation out of the building, used it for a thrift shop until about 1998 and then gave it to Export.

Litz said the church was donated with the intention the borough eventually would relinquish ownership to an organization capable of maintaining the building and putting it to good use.

“We're trying to lay the foundation for that right now,” Litz said.

One of the first steps they will explore, she said, is transferring ownership of the building from the borough to the Export Historical Committee.

Doing so would require establishing the historical committee group as a 501c3 organization with a set of bylaws and other necessary requirements. Currently, the group is an extension of council.

“We do have some paperwork and hoops that we have to jump through to accomplish that goal, but I'm confident that we'll be able to do that,” she said.

Once the organization is established, Litz said renovations will be an ongoing, extensive project — however, no construction is anticipated at this point. She said nothing will get started until a decision is made on how best to proceed with ownership of the building.

Major exterior work took place to repair the building and apply new paint last fall.

But work still is needed inside, where everything is currently stripped down to the studs, Litz said.

“It might be a situation where you're doing a little at a time.”

Larissa Dudkiewicz is a freelance writer for Trib Total Media.

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