a newspaper man adjusts his pen

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Nightmare on North Central

Vandals have caused rather severe damage to this old house that is the only still-standing relic of the oldest college in the United States west of the Alleghenies. It's a larger tragedy that this house was allowed to fall to this state of disrepair in the first place.

Here is a story about the vandalism that appeared today in the Observer-Reporter:

CANONSBURG, Pa. – The vandalism to the last surviving Jefferson College building couldn’t have been found at a worst time.
Extensive damages were found Friday inside the historic Roberts House in Canonsburg, Pa., on the same day a nonprofit obtained its federal tax-exempt status to raise money for its restoration.
“It just makes you sick to the stomach,” said Canonsburg Mayor Anthony Colaizzo, who also is a board member of the group that wants to turn the house into an arts center.
The log, stone and brick house, with portions dating to the 1790s, was used for decades as a home for presidents, vice presidents and the faculty at the college before it merged to become Washington & Jefferson College. Founded in 1787, Jefferson College was the first school for higher learning west of the Allegheny Mountains. John Roberts then operated a post office and general store in the house, beginning in 1808.
To the dismay of the Washington County Cultural Trust, vandals reduced a priceless cherry bentwood stair railing to pieces. An antique mirror was shattered, too, as were many windowpanes.
“It was a senseless act of vandalism,” Colaizzo said. “You’d have to be sick to do it. I am just lost for words.”
This isn’t the first time vandals have struck Canonsburg in recent months. In mid-June, someone scrawled the word “nemesis” in black spray paint on houses and vehicles in the East End of the borough – about 30 tags in all.
Canonsburg police continue to investigate the incidents, which detectives said caused between $15,000 to $20,000 in damages.
Police and firefighters also were called Saturday to St. Patrick Church on Pike Street after a recycling bin was set on fire.
The trust had reached an agreement for the house to be purchased by Pittsburgh History and Landmarks Foundation for a year. The foundation is expected to sell the house with a sagging roof at 225 N. Central Ave. back to the trust.
The Landmarks Foundation dispatched a crew to the house to resecure it Monday.
For information, call 724-514-6106. Donations for the restoration project can be mailed to the trust at P.O. Box 45, Canonsburg, PA 15317.


Ellipses said...

This drives me crazy... the number of artifacts and remnants of antiquity that have been destroyed for such arbitrary reasons is maddening. I can understand natural disasters... but vandalism or... what am I looking for here... physical iconoclasm... what would be the word to describe the Taliban destroying the giant Buddhas? As my mother would say... "This is why you can't have anything nice!"


Scott Beveridge said...

Smart mother