The Point: The Block House:
A Brief Controversy
Propose New Location for Relic: May Move Blockhouse to Beautify the
Armstrong Wants It Where It Can Be Seen--Ordinance for Bridge Design
From The Pittsburgh Post, 20 December 1911.
The historic old block house at the Point will be removed from its present location in a depressed portion of the district, taken nearer to the junction of the Allegheny and Monongahela rivers, and boosted to a prominent elevation, where it can be seen for miles, if Public Works Director Joseph G. Armstrong has his way. This idea is to be considered in connection with the beautification of the entire Point district, which is being undertaken by the art and planning commissions.
Director Armstrong had an ordinance presented in council yesterday authorizing an advertisement for competitive plans for an ornamental approach to the new bridge over the Allegheny river at the Point.
"We are going to fix up the Point," said Director Armstrong, yesterday afternoon. "What is the use of having the blockhouse hidden away where no one can see it. It would not be necessary to move it far to make it visible for many miles down the river. It would then become prominent as an object of historical interest."
Storm of Protest Aroused among Local D. A. R. by Suggestion That
Fort's Site Be Changed. "Sorry," Says Director.
From The Pittsburgh Sun, 20 December 1911.
"The blockhouse will not be moved an inch."--Mrs. Samuel Ammon.
Vigorous protests have been called forth from the officials of the local chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution by the suggestion of Director of Public Works Joseph G. Armstrong that the historic old blockhouse at the Point be moved to a commanding position above the river. The director's suggestion was made yesterday in connection with an ordinance, which he had introduced in council, asking permission to advertise for competitive plans for an ornamental approach to the new bridge over the Allegheny river at the Point.
Mrs. Ammon is president of the incorporate body of the D. A. R., which holds all the real estate of the local chapter, including the Block House, said that the society would never consent to the removal of the old structure.
"We hold a clear title to the property," she said, "and we have absolute control over the question as to whether it shall be removed or not. This society is unalterably opposed to tampering with the old building in any way, and Director Armstrong's suggestion cannot be carried out. We have had 10 years of litigation over this very question, and our legal right to absolute control over the property was confirmed by the supreme court."
Mrs. James R. Mellon, a member of the Block House committee of the D. A. R., concurred with Mrs. Ammon in the matter.
"It would be almost sacrilegious," said Mrs. Mellon, "to move the historic old landmark from its real site and place it somewhere else.
"All the real patriotic associations that cluster about it now would be utterly destroyed, and as a landmark in the history of our country it would be a laughing stock. The society will never permit the Block House to be changed from its present location."
Director Armstrong, when informed of the sentiment of the society, said,
"If the D. A. R. declines to allow the Block House to be removed we are powerless to act in the matter, for the society owns the property. Nevertheless, it seems to me that the society is standing in the way of plans for a city beautiful. My idea was to place the structure in a commanding position on the point between the Union and the Point bridges, where it would overlook the river, and be visible to every visitor to the city. At present about one stranger in a thousand ever gets a sight of it, and of what use is a historic landmark if no one sees it?
"As I understand it the Block House is not really the original structure, so that the purely sentimental objection against its removal would seem to be ill founded. If the society persists in its attitude we can do nothing but go on with our improvement plans."