Hazelwood residents begin razing home for Carnegie Library branch
Wearing safety goggles and hard hats while wielding small sledgehammers, Auja Turner, 10, and her cousin Gemma Gilbert, 8, chipped away at a cement wall outside the former Hazelwood Presbyterian Church on Second Avenue.
John Terry, 14, took a few whacks at the wall, sending chunks of cement flying. So did the Rev. Tim Smith, executive director of Center of Life, an economic revitalization organization in the neighborhood.
“We are really making history today,” Smith said. “It has been such a long journey for our community.”
The demolition on Saturday of the cement wall served as a ground-breaking to start work on renovating the former church into a home for the Hazelwood branch of the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh and other nonprofits. Rain moved the celebration into the basement of the building, but people braved the showers to tear down the wall.
“We have always recognized the need for knowledge,” said Homer Craig, 74, a longtime Hazelwood resident whom many refer to as the mayor of the neighborhood.
Craig noted the original Hazelwood library was the third established by Andrew Carnegie. The famed Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright August Wilson likely read every book in the original library, Craig joked.
Residents fought hard to keep the library, once scheduled to close. The branch's current home, on the second floor of a Second Avenue building it shares with a laundromat and deli, is “probably best described as cozy,” said Mary Frances Cooper, president and director of the Carnegie libraries.
Cheryl Harber was glad the community found a use for the vacant church at the corner of Second Avenue and Tecumseh Street. Built in the 1950s as an American Legion, it was later the church where her mother, the Rev. Louwanda Harris, preached.
“My mother is joyous,” Harber, 56, of Hazelwood said. “We don't have to tear it down and make it something else. It's here, and we're going to be able to use it, and it's going to be awesome.”
Doneia Averett, 10, and her sister Trinity, 9, go to the current library nearly every day. They use the computers, participate in after-school programs and even met a real penguin. The library, however, is too small, the sisters said.
ACTION-Housing, a Downtown nonprofit focused on providing affordable housing, bought the church for $220,000. The nonprofit hosted community meetings to determine how to use the building.
Using money from the Heinz Endowments, a grant from PNC and loans from the Urban Redevelopment Authority, the nonprofit plans to renovate the 14,000-square-foot building into a neighborhood center, with the library on the top floor and space for three nonprofits on the ground level.
Aaron Aupperlee is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7986 or email@example.com.
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.
- Pittsburgh police break up customer fights over Air Jordan 11 shoes
- Butler legislator gives weekly GOP address
- Pittsburgh adjusting to new bicycle lane, ‘stop boxes’
- Brashear High ‘little libraries’ program rolls out
- Icy roads, cold causing school delays, wrecks in Western Pa.
- Environmental teachers glean new ideas from networking
- Second African penguin chick hatches at National Aviary
- Man questioned in Penn Hills parents’ disappearance
- Newsmaker: Cindy Marzock
- Pittsburgh fraud case, Uganda-based counterfeiting racket linked
- Pittsburgh Public Schools adopts no-tax-increase budget for 2015