Belvedere Hotel’s remnants set to be demolished
All it will take is about 45 truckloads to remove what is left of the 115-year-old Belvedere Hotel in Oklahoma Borough.
Demolition starts Wednesday and is expected to last until Sept. 30, closing Orr Avenue from Route 66 to Hancock Avenue.
The 11,000 motorists who travel Route 66 will not be impacted.
However, areas around the hotel will be off-limits to spectators for safety reasons during the demolition.
Stamped tin ceiling tiles and box springs are among the few surviving artifacts mixed in with large piles of charred wood after a blaze destroyed the local landmark July 24. State police continue to investigate to determine the cause.
Tiny Oklahoma Borough declared an emergency to take down the hotel ruins, just feet away from Route 66 and Orr Avenue. It got help from Westmoreland County with its redevelopment authority finding $75,000, while the borough pitched in $10,000.
“The project was deemed of high importance,” said Hallie Chatfield, revitalization coordinator for Westmoreland County’s redevelopment authority.
“This is a major coordinated effort among Westmoreland County, the Redevelopment Authority, Oklahoma Borough, PennDOT and the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection to find the means and methods to get the job done,” she said.
Although Oklahoma Borough determined the hotel was unfit to live in several years ago, the dangerous condition of the structure prevented a series of tests for asbestos, which is assumed to be present given the age of the building.
DEP has declared the hotel remains “hazardous waste.”
Adhering to state requirements to prevent public exposure to asbestos, the hotel debris will be misted down during excavation, said Lee Schumaker, code enforcement officer for Oklahoma Borough and the demolition project coordinator.
Additionally, there will be three or four air quality monitors for sampling, he said. A DEP representative will be on site during the demolition.
McCutcheon Enterprises Inc. of Allegheny Township was awarded the demolition contract, removing the debris and handling the asbestos.
Debris will be transported in covered trucks and taken to Greenridge landfill in Scottdale, Chatfield said.
Although Orr Avenue will be closed for several weeks, the demolition and removal of debris could be complete in a shorter period, Schumaker said.
For such a long-lived icon brimming with content, ite are few discernible remnants left. Among the charred debris, the most prevalent and recognizable items are the embossed decorative tin ceiling tiles. The walls of the first floor also were covered in ornamental tin. That floor once included an ice cream parlor, dining room and bar.
“They didn’t call it the Tin Hut for nothing,” Schumaker said.
More than one kitchen sink made it through the inferno that engulfed the four-story wood-frame hotel in less than 10 minutes. A less exotic item visible after the fire is a refrigerator previously visible on the second-floor porch. The blaze reduced it to a barely recognizable heap of metal.
What is most interesting about the site are the stone walls revealed behind the building, some of which are set like steps, providing room for more expansive floors at the top of the building.
For now, the stone walls will stay, Schumaker said, because they are believed to be stabilizing the hillside.
All stone at the site has tested negative for asbestos.
Mary Ann Thomas is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Mary at 724-226-4691, [email protected] or via Twitter .