Falling brick shows decline of Scottdale landmark, former publishing house

Mar 16, 2020 by

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SCOTTDALE, Pa. — No one was injured when a portion of the brick facade fell from the former Mennonite Publishing House building Feb. 19.

Hundreds of bricks fell from the former Mennonite Publishing House building Feb. 19 in Scottdale, Pa. — Jonathon Fox

Hundreds of bricks fell from the former Mennonite Publishing House building Feb. 19 in Scottdale, Pa. — Jonathon Fox

Several hundred bricks rained down on Walnut Street from the former offices of the publishing arm of the Mennonite Church and later Mennonite Church USA.

The building is now owned but abandoned by an independent church that took possession of it in 2013.

Scottdale Volunteer Fire Department personnel blocked off the street as they, Scottdale borough officials and West Penn Power assessed the situation.

More bricks were loose and appeared to be at risk of falling.

“The Fire Department and borough street crew secured the area,” said Scottdale Volunteer Fire Department President Nathan Savanick, a member of Scottdale Mennonite Church. “All vehicle and pedestrian traffic is blocked off for the entire block. The residents living across the street were offered refuge in a hotel via the Red Cross until the immediate danger has been mitigated. . . . The building owner has agreed to have the immediate hazards resolved by March 7.”

By Feb. 28 the street had been cleaned up but remained barricaded.
Scottdale Mennonite congregational chair Dirk Kaufman said the situation was a reminder of the declining condition of a building that once played a vital role in the community and served Mennonites throughout North America.

“It is now obvious to everyone that the facade is failing even as we know that sections of the roof are leaking, which will only accelerate the building’s deterioration,” he said. “While this development is discouraging, it is our understanding that the infrastructure of the building is strong. We remain hopeful that a core group of people will come together and fashion a new future for one of the landmark structures in Scottdale.”


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