Yet another local institution has fallen victim to the fall's devastating floods. For the first time since 1985, the Fox Chapel Yacht Club Antiques Show will not be held.
The show, which regularly attracted more than 50 antique dealers from across the country to showcase their wares, specialized in 18th century antiques. It offered pieces of English, French and American origin as well as paintings, folk art, silverware and jewelry -- attracting such well-known local people as Pittsburgh philanthropist Elsie Hillman and Greensburg Tribune-Review owner Richard Mellon Scaife. A portion of the ticket sale proceeds was annually donated to Family Resources programs.
Lynn Dingus, of Burnside, Ky., who has coordinated the event every year, said she was notified in November by Contemporary Gourmet, which ran the banquet facilities at the yacht club on Freeport Road in O'Hara, that she would not be able to use the banquet space for the February show. The company left a message on her answering machine, she said.
At that point, Dingus said, she had sent contracts to the antique dealers interested in the show, and three-quarters of those contracts had been returned with deposits.
After looking for alternate venues as far away as Washington, Pa., and as nearby as the David L. Lawrence Convention Center, Downtown, Dingus said she realized, "There just wasn't time to reschedule."
Epi Torres, the former owner of Contemporary Gourmet, said the banquet facilities closed because of damage from September's flooding, and the company decided it needed a new business plan before it could reopen and survive. "The only way to fix it was to build a hotel. Then the viability study was done ... [and] we could not build there," Torres said.
Due to space constraints and boats parked on trailers in the club lots for winter storage, Torres said, there wasn't room for a new hotel. The restaurant and banquet facilities officially closed at the end of November.
Dingus hopes to return the show to the area next year and is continuing to look for a venue.
The yacht club has plans to become a boating resort to be open to the public. David Maxwell, of Friemax Management LLC, which owns the yacht club property, said that plans are in the works to improve and expand the amenities at the club for boaters and nonboaters.
As to the antique show returning to the club, Maxwell said, "You never say never. Those options are always out there."
Philip A. Stephenson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 412-263-1419.