As we first wrote back in March, Schenley Park’s Westinghouse Memorial and Pond has encountered a whole host of problems since a rough winter caused damage to numerous parts of the site. For a while, the water in the fountain was back up and running thanks to repairs done by the City of Pittsburgh Department of Public Works, and the site appeared to need some cosmetic improvements, but was still a pretty attractive spot for photos.
But the severe storm that came through Pittsburgh in June flooded the fountain. After that, it started to leak again and it hasn’t been functional since. We suspect that the volume of water that went through the pond’s plumbing system was too great for the pipes to handle, and that one of the pipes beneath the basin is broken and causing the leak. However, we can’t tell for sure until the City’s plumbing contractor can visit the site with a camera that can probe underneath the basin.If the inspection reveals that the problem IS a broken pipe that can be repaired without digging up the basin, then the issue is relatively minor and could be fixed fairly quickly. But if the inspection reveals that the pipe isn’t broken, then the basin will have to be dug out in order to figure out what is really causing the pond to empty. That would be a much more costly and time-consuming project. So now we wait. There is some good news, though: Westinghouse, whose employees originally funded the creation of the memorial, donated funds that allowed us to undertake conservation of the bronze this June. This was crucial because delaying the work on the bronze would only have made its problems worse. Our conservator was able to come in and clean and wax the statue and the monument, restoring their shine and removing many of the stains. Now “American Youth” no longer has graffiti on his chest, his shoes are polished and shined, and Daniel Chester French’s signature practically pops out at you when you look at the sculpture. So we are very grateful to Westinghouse for helping us out there!
Of course, we realize that the monument is only part of the project, and the rest is an eyesore. There’s grass growing in the pond, and entire chunks of the walkway have come loose and are piling up to the side. So stay tuned. I wish we had a better answer and a more solid timeline on the project for you, but we need to do a little more diagnostic work to determine exactly what the costs are going to be. (Cross your fingers for that broken pipe!) Then we’ll need to seek out the funding so that next summer’s brides can hopefully go to Westinghouse and find the area even more scenic than they remember!