Hunt Armory

Sarah Schneider / 90.5 WESA News

The Urban Redevelopment Authority of Pittsburgh voted Thursday to take the next step in converting the Hunt Armory in Shadyside into an indoor ice rink.

Sarah Schneider / 90.5 WESA

The Alfred E. Hunt Armory takes up an entire city block of Shadyside. Its original purpose was to house military weapons. It was later a training facility and a community center. It was the venue for Led Zeppelin’s first Pittsburgh show and touted presidential candidates and evangelist Billy Graham.

The more than a century old historic landmark was last used by the 28th infantry of the National Guard until 2013.  

The City of Pittsburgh, through the Urban Redevelopment Authority, approved plans Thursday to purchase the Alfred E. Hunt Armory in Shadyside from the state.

The 102-year-old historic landmark will be purchased by the URA without having to go through a bidding process, according to Pittsburgh City Councilman Dan Gilman.

“That allows us to have better local control over the future redevelopment plans, whereas the state just requires selling to the highest bidder,” he said.

But Gilman said the city doesn’t want to own the property for long.

Nearly 20,000 people can pack the Consol Energy Center for events today, but more than 60 years ago, thousands jammed the Hunt Armory in Shadyside to listen to President Harry Truman.

“There was so many events, this was basically the public large gathering place for so many historic events and recreational and cultural events with the city, not unlike the Syria Mosque and the arena itself,” said state Sen. Jim Ferlo (D-Allegheny County).