Blacksmiths work to preserve part of Lawrenceville war memorial

PITTSBURGH — As Memorial Day approaches, the Pittsburgh Area Artists Blacksmiths Association (PAABA) is on a mission: working to preserve the antique fencing that surrounds a war memorial along Main Street in Pittsburgh’s Lawrenceville neighborhood.

On Monday, ten metalworkers put their skills to good use outside of the CYA Stephen Foster Community Center as a group of men and women worked to renovate land that was given to Col. William B. Foster in 1814.

“Nineteen-fifty-five was a big renovation of this particular site. Prior to that, this whole acre and a quarter was a cemetery, so this has been left in order to honor the bodies that were here,” said Chris Holt, PAABA member.

The organization said many of its 275 members served our nation, so this is a way to honor the fallen, paying tribute to those who never came home.

“It means an awful lot to us. We do like to do community service, and we’ve done about five cemeteries. It’s a good thing to do for people who have given the ultimate sacrifice,” said John Steel, PAABA president.

This group has also helped to preserve a 100-year-old gate at the entrance of the Allegheny Cemetery.

“These knuckles through here — there are several missing, and one of our blacksmiths has perfect remade, recast these knuckles so the fence will be complete in its original state,” Holt said. “They work together, and they know exactly what to do.”