Demolition of Monsour Medical Center begins

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While this winter's ice and snow may have thwarted most outdoor projects, it did not hamper start of demolition of the former Monsour Medical Center in Jeannette.

In fact, Jeannette solicitor Scott Avolio said the conditions were the impetus for the immediate razing of two of the three buildings on the 37.5-acre site along Route 30.

Demolition work began the last week in January after city council declared the former hospital unsafe and took emergency action to begin tearing down the two adjacent buildings on the site.

Mr. Avolio said council submitted an emergency request to begin tearing down the structures to the state health department. He said that with the weather, especially the extremely wet snow and ice, council believed the public's safety was at risk.

According to Mr. Avolio, work crews have demolished one of the buildings and are expected to tear down the stone house adjacent to the hospital within the next several weeks. Both of the buildings were heavily damaged by a fire last year.

Once the buildings are razed, Mr. Avolio said the site will be secured, and the city, along with the Westmoreland County Industrial Development Corp., will continue efforts to acquire the property at tax sale.

In December, the county tax claims bureau filed notice with creditors that it will offer the property for sale with the intention of acquiring it. Demolition of the hospital will follow acquisition of the site.

"However, we have no immediate timeline for demolition of the hospital building," Mr. Avolio said. The county has applied for a $1 million in state funds for demolition of the building.

The hospital and adjacent buildings have sat vacant since the center closed in 2006.

The hospital was built in 1958 by Eva Monsour and her sons, Robert, Roy, William and Howard, all physicians. It was located behind what is known as Senator Brown's Mansion that was built in 1783 and is believed to be one of the oldest, if not the oldest, building in Jeannette. At one time, it was Robert Monsour's home.

Just west of the hospital was the building where the late William Monsour set up his practice.

Although the Monsours set up the hospital as a for-profit investment, it was sold in 1975 to the Monsour Medical Foundation, which proceeded to run it under a nonprofit status.

The city and county are hoping to attract some type of commercial entity to the site after it is cleared.

"There's been some talk about what could go in there, but nothing is definite at this point," Mayor Richard Jacobelli said. "We're just pleased that things are proceeding."

Linda Metz, freelance writer:

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