Westinghouse Castle in Wilmerding reopens for public tours

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The Westinghouse Castle, a turreted building in Wilmerding that served as the headquarters for industrialist George Westinghouse and his Westinghouse Air Brake Co., re-opened for public tours Wednesday.

Members of Wilmerding Renewed Inc., the preservation group that owns the building, are billing the summer tours as one of the last chances for members of the public to see the castle before what they hope is its transformation into a boutique hotel, restaurant and banquet facility.

"It's a local, state and national landmark, and we feel that [people] should come and see it," said Geraldine Homitz, volunteer operations manager for the castle.

The building, constructed in the 1890s and expanded to its current size in the late 1920s, has been owned and maintained by Wilmerding Renewed Inc. since 2006. The nonprofit organization runs a small museum showcasing the history of Westinghouse and Wilmerding within the castle and also offers tours of the building.

In recent years, it has been closed off-and-on for repairs and because the operation costs grew too high, especially in the winter.

Earlier this year, John Graf of the Priory Hospitality Group, which runs The Priory Hotel on the North Side, expressed interest in purchasing the building and transforming it into another boutique hotel. He said Wednesday that he was still working on acquiring financing for the project and that there was no timeline for it yet.

The transformation is expected to cost more than $10 million.

For now, Wilmerding Renewed continues to own the building, and Ms. Homitz said she has received phone calls from people wanting to see the interior before any changes occur.

To coincide with a Wilmerding community festival, the castle will be open for tours from 1 to 6 p.m. today through Saturday.

Through September, the castle will be open from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Thursdays through Saturdays.

Guests will be asked for a donation that will go toward the upkeep of the building, and can expect during their visits to view videos about the history of Westinghouse, the man and the company, and then receive a tour of the museum and the building.

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Kaitlynn Riely: kriely@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1707. First Published June 5, 2013 5:00 PM


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