Belvedere ruins begin to disappear in Oklahoma Borough
If you were hoping for a memento from the former Belvedere Hotel, you’re out of luck.
“The borough must have received at least 50 calls from people wanting door knobs, hinges and, of course, the tin ceiling and wall tiles that famously adorned the hotel’s first floor,” said Lee Schumaker, Oklahoma Borough’s code enforcement officer and coordinator of the Belvedere demolition project.
Unfortunately, there are no souvenirs from the historic hotel to be had because of asbestos contamination, he said. Everything at the site is considered hazardous waste because of the asbestos and will be shipped to a landfill — even the tin tiles.
The first day of demolition of the Belvedere on Tuesday went smoothly as debris was scooped away from the left side toward Route 819 of what is left of the fire-ravaged local icon.
Orr Avenue is closed between Hancock Avenue and Route 66, which is the project’s staging area. Although several weeks have been allotted for the demolition, it could be completed much earlier if conditions are right, according to Schumaker.
The contractor, Eveready Contracting LLC of Washington Township, was on site Tuesday scooping debris with a backhoe, while several workers handpicked the debris from what looks to be where the third and fourth floors were located.
“We are happy just to clean this up for the community,” said Nick Eremic, owner of Eveready Contracting. “It’s been an eyesore for a long time.”
The removal of debris is revealing multiple stone walls flush up against the hill behind the hotel. The walls will stay, according to Schumaker. “It’s helping stabilize the hillside,” he said.
Stones from the hotel structure will be stacked against the stone walls and covered with sod, he added.
A July 24 blaze destroyed the wooden, Swiss chalet-inspired hotel that, at 115 years old, was abandoned and sagging. Because of the asbestos, the rubble was misted down throughout the day Tuesday. Dumpsters hauling the debris were lined with plastic to keep down the dust, according to Schumaker.
Westmoreland County’s Redevelopment Authority is in charge of spearheading the cleanup with the assistance of the state Department of Environmental Protection, PennDOT and borough officials.
Mary Ann Thomas is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Mary at 724-226-4691, [email protected] or via Twitter .