History center says 'no, thanks' to Wholey smiling fish sign

by: Bill Vidonic Updated:

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PITTSBURGH - Despite a groundswell of support, the Senator John Heinz History Center doesn't want the iconic Wholey fish market sign now in the Strip District.

This article was written by Channel 11’s news exchange partners at TribLIVE.

“We're flattered that people think of the history center whenever they think of beloved historical icons, and it's wonderful that people appreciate what we do at the history center, but in this particular case, it would be confusing to have a sign of a thriving business that's located a few blocks away,” center CEO and president Andy Masich said Saturday.

Voters in the region picked the history center as the most popular of five spots to become the new home for the iconic Wholey's Smiling Fish Sign, sign, with 301 out of more than 1,000 votes. Other locations were: Mt. Washington, 260 votes; McKees Rocks, 188 votes; on or near water or a bridge, 131 votes; and the Bigelow Boulevard retaining wall, 40 votes. Another 59 people voted to keep the sign at its current location.

The “Smiling Fish” sign, a 100-by-60-foot Strip District icon made of light bulbs, hangs on the former Federal Cold Storage Building, 1501 Penn Ave.

Sampson Morris Group, a Monroeville real estate firm that bought the former warehouse in 2007, is planning to renovate the building into apartments. The developer plans to remove the sign, though Wholey said Saturday there's still a possibility the sign could remain.