Organization Names Bayer Sign Best Historic Preservation Opportunity

May 30, 2012

A local group has deemed the rusting Bayer sign that clings to the side of Mt. Washington as the city's best historic preservation opportunity. The word "Pittsburgh" in its stylized white-on-white letters can barely be seen after years of neglect.

Since 2003, the Young Preservationists Association of Pittsburgh (YPA) has been creating a list of the "Ten Best Historic Preservation Opportunities." YPA's Chief Executive Officer, Dan Holland, said the 226 × 30' sign does not represent Pittsburgh properly.

"It's been rusting and looks pretty hideous," Holland said. "In fact, you can't really tell what it looks like during the day; it's just a big blank sign."

Lamar Advertising owns the sign and was not available to comment for this story. Bayer has said that if the structure is not repaired it could pull its neon advertising from the sign. Lamar has publicly said in the past that it has plans to revitalize the structure.

Other locations making the 2012 list include the Bigelow Boulevard retaining wall in the Hill District, Turner Cemetery in Squirrel Hill, and Mayview State Hospital in Upper Saint Clair.

Holland said the locations for the list were nominated by the public and then scored on criteria such as historical architectural significance, community input, and the feasibility of the solution. The most weight is placed on feasibility.

"Those that make it to the top of the list have a greater chance of success," Holland said.

Holland said the YPA does not get involved in the actual restoration, but attempts to act as a catalyst by adding value to the location.

"Most of the time we're singing others' praises," Holland said. "We're highlighting projects in the region that have a good chance for survival and reuse, but that already have a local sponsor or developer involved."

Some locations making the list in the past have seen restoration and reuse efforts, including the Union Project on Negley Avenue, the Armstrong Cork Factory in the Strip Distict, and the Dormont Pool in Dormont.