a fixer upper

The Historical Society of Mount Lebanon has been raising money for the past couple of years to purchase and renovate a headquarters on Washington Road. The project hit a snag when bids came in higher than expected, but a second round of bidding produced positive results and Phase I, a new roof and demolition of selected areas, is slated to begin by the beginning of 2017.

The Historical Society of Mount Lebanon’s plan to purchase and renovate its home at 794 Washington Road just got a step closer to reality.

The building, which is owned by the municipality, is under a 20-year lease to the society, with the option to buy. Through a combination of a capital campaign and state and county grants, the society was able to begin the first phase of the renovation—demolition of 5,000 square feet of interior space and replacing the roof—earlier this year.

The project hit a snag when bids for the work came in over the $200,000 budget amount. The project was rebid and in October the Commission awarded the contract to Ramp Construction for $185,720.

The Spanish-style house, built between 1926 and 1933, was once the home and office of Mt. Lebanon physician Donald McMillan, and then housed the Mt. Lebanon Tax Office and the headquarters for the South Hills Area Council of Governments.

Plans for the new building include about 1,000 square feet of space for permanent and seasonal exhibits, a 1,000-square-foot multipurpose room for lectures and receptions, a climate-controlled archive space, a library of historical research materials, research and study rooms, and office space for staff and volunteers.

The society’s current headquarters is a small three-room space fronting Lebanon Avenue, in the basement of the house it plans to renovate. The 450 square feet, where Dr. McMillan’s practice was once located, has hosted several exhibits since the society moved in in 2009.

The historical society has retained RSH Architects—a firm with strong ties to Mt. Lebanon and a solid background in restoration work—to draw up plans and cost estimates. Principal in the firm is Joel Cluskey, currently president of Mt. Lebanon’s historic preservation board.

To find out more about the society, donate or become a member, visit www.lebohistory.org.