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Demolition of Brashear factory in Pittsburgh's North Side uncovers time capsule

| Thursday, March 26, 2015, 12:01 a.m.

Mayor Bill Peduto is “overjoyed” that a time capsule was found in a cornerstone of the historic John A. Brashear factory in the North Side and wants to ensure that its contents are available to generations of Pittsburghers, the mayor's spokesman said Wednesday night.

The time capsule — containing Brashear family photos; what is purported to be one of the first pieces of optical glass made in America; and other memorabilia — was opened Tuesday, according to an Internet posting and pictures by Al Paslow of Bethel Park, a member of the Antique Telescope Society.

Brashear was a world-renowned scientist and philanthropist who made mirrors and lenses for telescopes. He died in 1920.

An emergency demolition order to raze the long-vacant building, now owned by the city, was issued because a wall collapsed last week onto an occupied apartment building next door on Perrysville Avenue.

Jadell Minniefield Construction Services Inc. of Hazelwood received $235,000 to do the work.

“Things will hopefully change, but as of now, the demolition company owner is still holding onto the time capsule, apparently with hopes of selling it,” Peduto spokesman Timothy McNulty said.

Neither Minniefield nor Paslow could be reached for comment.

“The city ... is reviewing its legal options and will do all it can to preserve this artifact for its rightful owners, the people of Pittsburgh,” McNulty said. Andy Masich, president and CEO of the Heinz History Center in the Strip District, has talked with Minnifield and Peduto's office, history center spokesman Ned Schano said.

“The History Center would be happy to help preserve and conserve the time capsule,' ” Schano said.

Michael Hasch is a staff writer for Trib Total Media.

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