a newspaper man adjusts his pen

Saturday, May 7, 2011

A mansion tour of a different sort

This is an old photo of a Monongahela River ferry used in the early 1900s below the downtown area known as the Neck in Brownsville, Pa. The image is among a collection of rarely-seen photographs of the historic Fayette County borough, some of which will be on display in an upcoming mansion tour. (BARC photo)

Talk about an unusual way to welcome the public into a creepy old mansion awaiting a clever redeveloper.

The Brownsville Area Revitalization Corp. is inviting the public to tour an exhibit of old local photographs two days this month inside the rundown Rose Mansion it recently acquired in a donation.

The rarely-seen old photos are part of a collection of more than 1,000 donated by former resident Bill Patterson, a retired educator in Erie. The shot will feature those of Brownsville's historic Northside and of the once-booming downtown district known as the Neck.

The mansion has an interesting history, which was told in the following recent article in the Observer-Reporter:

By Scott Beveridge, Staff writer

BROWNSVILLE, Pa.  – The back door barely hangs on its hinges at the stately and historic Rose Mansion in Brownsville.

Lead paint peels from interior walls and fallen ceiling plaster coats the floors in this landmark built in 1873 along the National Road as Monongahela National Bank.

Yet there is hope the building will be returned to its original luster among members of a local revitalization group, which has received the building in a donation from the Rose family heirs.

"With the right amount of care and money ..." said Kasandra Ward, a Brownsville Area Revitalization Corp. board member.

"It's a worthwhile project because it has a lot of historical value," Ward said in February 2011, when BARC members toured the house to brainstorm ideas on how to open its doors to the public for the first time since 1903.

BARC wants to organize an exhibit of old photographs at the house, timed for Pike Days May 21-22, to show people how the place looks before restorations begin.

"We're doing this so we can actually get people interested in this house ... take a peek inside," Ward said.

The house contains eight large rooms with nearly 20-foot ceilings and an addition in the back with several smaller rooms. The stone and red brick facade boasts 10-foot-tall Italianate windows.

Sam Rose converted the building into a house about a century ago, also he also headquartered nearby his moving company, said BARC Executive Director Dennis J. Cremonese.

It remained occupied until the early 2000s, when Rose's son, Peter, died, Cremonese said.

BARC is seeking bids from companies interested in performing marketing and feasibility studies on the best reuse of the house in Fayette County, just across the Lane-Bane Bridge from West Brownsville.

One option under consideration, he said, is converting the house into a bed-and-breakfast. However, BARC needs a solid plan before it can obtain grants to perform renovations, which are expected to cost between $350,000 and $750,000, Cremonese said.

"First, we have to figure out how we are going to clean it," Ward said. "There is rubbish everywhere."

Blake Fisher, an AmeriCorps VISTA worker assigned to Brownsville Area Revitalization Corp., left, and Maren Meszaros, a California University of Pennsylvania intern, tour the historic Rose House BARC has received in a donation and is about to restore on the National Road. Observer-Reporter

(The house will be open to tours from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. May 21, and noon to 4 p.m. May 22. The $5 admission will help BARC in its efforts to pay for community development.)

1 comment:

Mitch said...

Thanks for the coverage and helping us generate interest!