Monday, March 3, 2014

driven to distraction

Now that we're once again on the one month countdown to a houseful of people we've switched focused from construction on the third floor to finishing up odds and ends around the place. In some ways these are the most exciting projects since they create the illusion of livable spaces. On Friday though, we were lucky enough to have a day of distraction thanks to a good friend of ours. His father is spearheading the restoration of the Braddock Library (, the first of the Carnegie libraries (1889).

Our interest in Braddock lays in Braddock National Bank, which was founded by our house's builder, John Gracey Kelly. The bank is in good hands, and it's wonderful to see some of the other extraordinary structures in the area being carefully restored, after so many have been demolished over the years.

Currently it's the music hall that's receiving the bulk of the attention. The last performance was around 1969, since then a corner of the ceiling caved in, causing a fair bit of water damage (would have been catastrophic were it not for the steel beams supporting the structure). The roof has since been restored, along with the decorative plaster work and gorgeous new murals. At the moment the rows for the theater seating are being widened to accommodate modern American's increasing girths. The stunning cast iron and velvet seats are being widened by popping the rivets that hold the sides together and adding a small piece of qswo between them to make them a bit wider.

Although the public spaces, with their stunning iron, wood and plaster work, are beautiful, the attic and tower rooms are even more interesting to me, perhaps because the were stuffed to the brim with "treasures," including long-forgotten plaques from area schools, some of which I believe have been demoed, ornate bookcases from the stacks, and the library's original turn of the century gym equipment, including a boxing ring and pummel horses. Sadly, the places were so dark and cluttered I wasn't able to get any usable shots of those spaces, but I did get a couple shots of the third floor basketball court and basement swimming pool (currently full of more awesome storage).

Seeing a structure like this in the midst of a decades long restoration highlights just how overwhelming a process it is, constantly preforming triage with whatever funds have been obtained in the meantime. If you'd like to know more about the building, it's wiki page is enlightening (and hey, that's my picture of the newel post!).

And the highlight of the tour? Climbing to the tower for a bird's eye view of Braddock roof lines, with a peek of our bank - peaked roof the the right of center...


  1. I wonder if the Pittsburgh Braddock families are related to G. Holmes Braddock who has a middle school named for him not far from our house. What a grand building that was and will be again. What fun for you to be able to get the grand tour!

  2. Any idea who the architect on the job is? I worked on the renovation of the Carnegie Music Hall in Carnegie last time I had a full-time architecture job. I should have known I was doomed once they moved me onto it-- seemed that by the time any architect was involved with it for very long, they'd get laid off and replaced with somebody else. Who'd get laid off pretty soon, too. :-(

    1. I didn't know you worked in architecture, I can imagine how much you miss it. I'm not totally sure what the situation is with the Library, we were shown around by John Hempel, who's the chair of of the restoration committee for the library. If you're curious I can certainly find out.


I am human and I need to be loved...