TribLIVE

| News

 
Larger text Larger text Smaller text Smaller text | Order Photo Reprints

Westmoreland Museum of American Art makeover under way

Sean Stipp | Tribune-Review - A crew from James Construction of Carnegie removes a steel beam before felling one of the four granite columns at the Westmoreland Museum of American Art.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Sean Stipp  |  Tribune-Review</em></div>A crew from James Construction of Carnegie removes a steel beam before felling one of the four granite columns at the Westmoreland Museum of American Art.
Sean Stipp | Tribune-Review - A crew from James Construction of Carnegie uses a long-reach excavator to knock over one of four granite columns at the Westmoreland Museum of American Art.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Sean Stipp  |  Tribune-Review</em></div>A crew from James Construction of Carnegie uses a long-reach excavator to knock over one of four granite columns at the Westmoreland Museum of American Art.

Email Newsletters

Click here to sign up for one of our email newsletters.

Daily Photo Galleries

Westmoreland Photo Galleries

'American Coyotes' Series

Traveling by Jeep, boat and foot, Tribune-Review investigative reporter Carl Prine and photojournalist Justin Merriman covered nearly 2,000 miles over two months along the border with Mexico to report on coyotes — the human traffickers who bring illegal immigrants into the United States. Most are Americans working for money and/or drugs. This series reports how their operations have a major impact on life for residents and the environment along the border — and beyond.

Monday, Dec. 30, 2013, 11:53 p.m.
 

Judith O'Toole held up her cellphone on Monday and recorded the start of a new era at the Westmoreland Museum of American Art in Greensburg.

The director and chief executive officer captured on video the toppling of the first of four 30-foot-tall granite columns that created a grand entrance to the museum. Removal of the columns marks the end of the museum's austere look and a start toward its more inviting appearance, O'Toole said.

O'Toole said the columns helped give the museum a “governmental-looking” appearance — a perception she said discouraged visitors. People often have told her they would have visited the museum but didn't think they were dressed well enough or knew enough about art to go in, she said.

Museum officials removed the columns as part of an overall $18 million expansion that will bring 12,500 square feet of additional space for galleries, studios and classrooms.

Workers for James Construction of Carnegie used the 75-foot-long arm of a piece of heavy equipment to shove the grayish-white pillar to the ground with a loud bang. Earlier they had jack-hammered and removed steel supports above the columns.

“Wow!” O'Toole said as she recorded the pillar slamming to the earth.

About a dozen museum staff members who stood watching along North Main Street applauded when the column toppled.

A covered walkway with tables and chairs will replace the four columns. A 60-foot cantilevered structure will be added to the North Maple Avenue side of the museum.

Extensive landscaping is planned for an area to the front of the museum's main entrance, making the building more visible to passersby.

O'Toole and the staff watched the second column come down about 2 p.m. Monday. Shortly before noon, workers had to take the first pillar down for safety reasons after it developed a crack, said Rick Avon, superintendent for general construction manager Spaulding Banks Inc.

The columns will be ground up and reused, helping museum officials to get the LEED certification they want for using environmentally friendly construction practices.

“What they'll be reused for, I don't know,” O'Toole said.

Most of the materials on site are to be recycled, said Chuck Ballein, director of museum facilities. “Everything that can be recycled is being recycled,” he said.

Museum officials want to reopen the cultural attraction in 2015.

They are using the Unity building that formerly housed Stickley Audi and Co. on Village Drive, off Route 30, as a temporary site for the museum, called Westmoreland @rt30.

Bob Stiles is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-836-6622 or bstiles@tribweb.com.

Subscribe today! Click here for our subscription offers.

 

 


Show commenting policy

Most-Read Westmoreland

  1. Extremes in weather hurt crops in Westmoreland
  2. Westmoreland torture-slaying convict Smyrnes says death row isolation too cruel
  3. Hempfield murderer serving life sentence promises restitution when he’s released
  4. Man charged with hitting girlfriend with car in East Huntingdon reaches plea agreement
  5. Sutersville ready to sell former church
  6. Police: Scottdale man had child porn on computer
  7. Scottdale chamber’s Community Yard Sale to be held Saturday
  8. Youngwood playground found to be in violation of disability act again
  9. Hempfield cyclist to cool wheels in jail during appeal
  10. More than 100 stamp bags confiscated in Greensburg; 4 arrested
  11. Sewickley Twp. man who received food stamps didn’t disclose gas royalties