Shadyside armory gets recommendation for historic designation

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A state senator's push to protect the Alfred E. Hunt Armory from potential demolition as the Pennsylvania National Guard looks to sell the massive building in Shadyside cleared a hurdle Wednesday, when the city's Historic Review Commission made a preliminary recommendation to designate the armory as a historic landmark.

The proposed designation, which will receive a public hearing at the commission's Nov. 6 meeting, will also be reviewed by the city's Planning Commission and City Council. Sen. Jim Ferlo, D-Highland Park, had nominated the 90,094-square foot armory on Emerson Street, built between 1909 and 1916, for the designation to give the commission jurisdiction over any new construction, demolition and exterior work. The National Guard says it intends to put the building, appraised at $2.7 million, up for sale as part of a broader plan to consolidate and reorganize units and unload older, unneeded armories and training sites.

The armory's namesake, Alfred E. Hunt, was a Spanish-American war veteran and a founder of the Pittsburgh Reduction Company, which later became Alcoa. Not just a military installation, for decades it served as one of Pittsburgh's biggest public venues, hosting presidents and presidential candidates, polo matches and other events.

"We don't have any objection to someone putting it to a new use. Our objection is we don't want to see our history destroyed," said Elliott Levenson, a retired Army lieutenant colonel who was based out of the armory from 1987 to 1999 when he was with the 1st Battalion of the 107th Field Artillery.

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Robert Zullo: rzullo@post-gazette.com or 412-263-3909.


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