Westmoreland Museum of American Art makeover under way
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 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.
- Prison becomes detox center for growing number of inmates with addictions
- Westmoreland County Fair doubles as meet-and-greet for candidates
- ‘Perfect’ skies draw big crowds to Westmoreland Fair
- Children honor late Ligonier Township officer at Westmoreland Fair
- Ligonier Township equine facility breaks ground
- Man gets probation for sex with teen girl in New Kensington
- Greensburg man charged with terroristic threats
- Hempfield prison film canceled because of Pa. budget impasse
- 10-year-old Blairsville violinist’s expulsion over knife challenged
- PennDOT considers I-70 options for Yukon, Madison ramps
- Trafford man sentenced for sex with teen