South Pittsburgh Reporter - Serving South Pittsburgh Since 1939

 
 

By Al Lowe
Contributing Writer 

No timetable for making repairs to the South Side Market House

 

April 19, 2011

The historic South Side Market House closed unexpectedly in March and has remained closed while funding is found to repair the building.

The Market House, an important part of the South Side community for more than a century, has closed its doors due to safety issues. Unforeseen but urgent emergency repairs are needed.

It is not known when it might reopen.

"It is primarily used as a senior center and offers organized programs and services. This kind of disruption is pretty significant," said Rick Belloli, executive director, South Side Local Development.

A & A Consulting Engineers reported to city officials the sub base of the floor of the multi-purpose recreation center has deteriorated significantly over the past 100 years and is deemed unsafe for further usage. Structural problems were more severe than previously realized. The Market House closed in February and programs are still being run by its staff were moved to the nearby Brashear Center.

"The project to replace the floor will take six months and will commence when money becomes available in the budget. That date is not on the horizon. Funding would have to come from council," city officials said. It is expected to cost over a quarter of a million dollars.

"I assure everybody that I am doing everything in my power," City Councilman Bruce Kraus said. "I thank everyone for their patience. I know that change isn't easy for people. I have been having preliminary conversations regarding finding a more suitable place. The Market House is very important. We can't afford this loss."

How is Brashear Association coping with a larger patronage? "So far, so good," said Christine Gaus, Brashear's director of services, when contacted last Thursday, a day when the organization hosted a bingo that attracted more than 80 seniors.

"We're pretty small and this has been a big increase. Some days we are more crowded than on other days. We always try to help meet the community needs when we can. We are accommodating everything that needs to happen," she said. She noticed some seniors missed the pool table available at the Market House.

But the positive aspect is seniors are encountering friends they had not seen for a long time. "That is the best part of the deal."

As part of its South Side Neighborhood Plan, South Side Local Development recognized the Market House at 12th and Bingham Streets as one of the five most important buildings that gives the neighborhood its character, Mr. Belloli said.

Mr. Kraus said he wanted to quelch rumors the Market House might close for good or be destroyed or demolished. He said it was protected since it is listed on the National Registry of Historic Places and was awarded a Historic Landmark plaque.

Mr. Belloli referred those interested to the web site - spotlightonmainstreet/buildings - for more information on its value to the community.

Also known as the South Side Recreation Center, the Market House was built in 1893 and was rebuilt in 1915 after a fire. It was originally a food store used by neighborhood immigrants and sold meat, butter, cheese, fruit and vegetables. There was once a roller rink on the second floor and youth dances were held there during Depression years.

The building was converted into a recreation center in 1943. Golden Gloves boxing tournaments were also held there.

There was another remodeling in 1978 so the center could hold senior programs, athletic events and community gatherings.

Mr. Belloli noted small senior groups up until recently convened at the Market House. He said he thought residents were "flexible" and would adjust to the changes.

The big question for many is how long it will take before the repairs to the center's floor will start.

 

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