A newsmaker you should know: Quatrini worked to preserve community
Vincent Quatrini is well acquainted with the values of community and continuity, which underscore his personal and professional lives. Those qualities were instrumental in the Westmoreland County Historical Society's decision to honor the Greensburg attorney and his law partner, Dennis Rafferty, with the 2012 Arthur St. Clair Historic Preservation Award.
The award was presented last month in recognition of their preservation and reuse by their law practice of the Seventh Ward School building on East Pittsburgh Street in Greensburg and the Citizens National Bank building in downtown Latrobe.
"When private ventures can accomplish the difficult work of adaptive reuse, we want to celebrate it," Lisa Hays, the society's executive director, said.
"Adaptive reuse" is a term preservation enthusiasts use to describe the preservation of an historic building by adapting it to a modern use. The awards are an opportunity to recognize and encourage those who purchase historic buildings and choose to retain key architectural features, instead of gutting their interiors, Ms. Hays explained.
"It's a huge project and a financial commitment," Ms. Hays said. Mr. Quatrini and Mr. Rafferty "didn't do it all at once. But they just kept working on it, and the results are lovely. These buildings have survived through hard times, and this makes sure they continue to survive. When I look at modern structures, they seem sterile in comparison. The custom work and detail make them all the more important to preserve."
The 1908 three-story red brick school, which houses the firm's main office, was purchased in 1985, and a 20-year renovation was begun that preserved the exterior and many of the interior architectural details. The 1926 bank building, purchased in 1996, received National Register of Historic Places listing in 2002. Among restoration highlights on the first floor are the cleaning and preservation of the original bank vault and the intricate painting, including stenciling, of the ceiling.
"A local artist, Joel Sanders, spent months on scaffolding re-creating the ceiling and faux painting walls and window frames to match the appearance of the original materials," Ms. Hays said.
In the school, boilers were removed, a tin ceiling restored, crown molding was re-created and classrooms were turned into offices. It evolved "from a grade school with seven-inch risers going up the stairs to a professional office building," Mr. Quatrini said. The bank "had fallen into disrepair. Mellon Bank took this splendid architectural space and turned it into a big box. All of its charm was gone."
The school and bank "were built at a time when the materials combined with the craftsmen combined with the inexpensive cost of building to create timeless structures that you couldn't build again," Mr. Quatrini said. "At today's cost, they'd be prohibitive. It's exciting and rewarding to be a part of preserving them."
Six months ago, the firm opened offices in the Latrobe building. A third location has recently been established on Penn Avenue in Pittsburgh's Cultural District.
Mr. Quatrini's dedication to community isn't restricted to buildings. He has served on numerous local boards. He is a founder and founding chairman of the Community Foundation of Westmoreland County, a philanthropic organization, which merged two years ago with the Pittsburgh Foundation, and he has served on that organization's board since. "Philanthropy in Westmoreland County was fast-forwarded perhaps 20 years by our merger," said Mr. Quatrini, a Latrobe native.
"They say it takes a village to raise a family, and I believe in that," he said. "You have to have a community in which everybody contributes. Somebody to pave the road, make steel, cook food, deliver the newspaper and provide help to those who don't have their own support network. My sister, Anita, is intellectually challenged, so we all have to be her network. In a small community, they look out for somebody who's challenged. That's been part of the appeal of Latrobe."
Mr. Quatrini's father began working at the Latrobe Bulletin, a daily newspaper, when he was 19, and was editor when he retired a half century later. "The fire in my belly came from my father's editorial pen," Mr. Quatrini said.
That's a characteristic he applies to supporting community nonprofits as well as to his own practice, which specializes in workers' compensation law.
"I hope what comes across is that we've been very fortunate in our professional lives. ... It's rare to love what you do and be able to make a good living at it. That's why we're giving back and saying thank you for our good fortune," Mr. Quatrini said.
His relationship with Mr. Rafferty started when they sat next to one another in first grade at Latrobe's Holy Family grade school, now Christ the Divine Teacher. The school's alphabetical seating order kept them together through eighth grade. They both attended Greater Latrobe High School and Saint Vincent College, and then parted paths. Mr. Quatrini attended Duquesne University School of Law, and Mr. Rafferty the University of Pittsburgh School of Law.
Mr. Quatrini established his practice in Greensburg, and Mr. Rafferty in Latrobe. They began to work on cases together and co-founded the law firm QuatriniRafferty in 1987.
Mr. Quatrini lives in Greensburg with his wife, Patricia, an Indiana University of Pennsylvania nursing instructor who teaches pediatric nursing at Children's Hospital of UPMC of Pittsburgh. Their son, Michael, is an associate with QuatriniRafferty, having earned his law degree in 2007 from Duquesne, where his brother, Adam, is in his second year.
"Family has always been important to me," Mr. Quatrini said, reflecting on weekly Sunday gatherings of the extended family at a grandmother's home.
Asked whether he ever had a desire to live elsewhere, Mr. Quatrini answered "None. Zero. Southwestern Pennsylvania is a community. A comfortable place. My mom and dad grew up here. My grandmothers came here from Italy. [My wife's] grandmother came from Poland. We have generations of connection to this area."
First Published November 8, 2012 4:55 am