Yesterday, we received formal notification from the Internal Revenue Service that The Abraham Hays Foundation, Inc. is a tax exempt organization effective February 28, 2013. This will allow us to begin the grant writing process and seek funding from other charitable foundations, corporations and individuals who wish to see our vision become a reality. Please click the DONATE button and help us with our mission.
A Message from founder, James M. Deibel
This story is about honoring my father and discovering the rich history of the Hays family from which he descends.
On February 7, 2012, our family gathered in Tyler, Texas, to celebrate my father’s 84th birthday. Before dessert, my father announced that he wanted to travel to Pittsburgh to see the grave of his mother, who died in 1929 in McDonald, Pennsylvania, when he was eleven months old. The family, although somewhat astonished, acknowledged his announcement and agreed to accompany him. “As you already know, I do not know if I ever had any relatives in Pittsburgh,” said my father. “As a child I spent summers with my grandparents in Donora, Pennsylvania, where my grandfather was the superintendent of the open hearth mill for American Wire and Steel Company. I got to know my aunt Mildred Eyman Bryce and her son Teddy from my visits. After my return from World War II, I buried my grandfather in April 1949. It was the last time I ever saw Mildred. My father, my brother Bill, and I traveled to Pittsburgh, stayed at the William Penn Hotel, and saw many people, none of which I knew as family. I lost touch with Mildred after she married Alan Robinson, moved to Cleveland, and then finally to Florida.”Read More
April 17th Meeting Recap
Unfortunately, we were unsuccessful in achieving our goal in rescinding the condemnation of Harden Place last Wednesday evening. The Borough council chose not to bring a motion to the floor to rescind the condemnation of Harden Place. Many Hays family members were in attendance as well as the volunteers who have all sacrificed time, energy and money toward saving the mansion. Unbeknownst to us, the council announced that the Foundation would need to place a $30,000 escrow deposit up so that the taxpayers of the Borough would not be exposed to funding the demolition this year in the event that we fail in our efforts. This was obviously a shock to us since this was never a condition precedent to rescinding the condemnation. Based on a telephone conversation with An Lewis of the Steel Valley Council of Governments last Friday, all the Borough would need to do is place the demolition grant naming Harden Place on the 2014 application for Community Development Block Grant funding from Allegheny County HUD and proceed with no impact to the taxpayers of Munhall whatsoever.
Also, currently, the budget for demolition grants as a part of the Boroughs 2013 application has not yet been finalized. We were explicitly given five items to cure in order to rescind. We have accomplished most all of the items except for guttering and painting of the eaves and other exterior portions of the structure. These items will require a lot of money wherein we will need to make repairs the roof prior to completing them. We do not wish to expend funds twice for the same repairs knowing that our resources are limited at this time and the remaining unfinished scope of repairs is reasonable to understand. The mansion has never looked better in over 18 years!
Volunteer efforts will continue in the weeks and months ahead. Also at the meeting, the lawyer representing our adjacent landowner provided a dissenting overview that Harden Place is inhibiting his client, Bryler Development, LLC, Mr. Steve Chupinka’s ability to develop homes due to the condition of the mansion. We do not believe that the current condition of Harden Place has anything to do with the current viability of their subdivision or their lack of success. Obviously, his comments were not well received by those in attendance. What I can’t understand is how the potential restoration of Harden Place will negatively impact the area. Quite to the contrary, the restoration of Harden Place and 17-1/2 acre hillside will create increased property values and positive economic impact to the entire area, once completed. I also am convinced that the taxpayers of Munhall would never be exposed to, or have to shoulder the burden of tearing down the mansion if we fail in our efforts. Our intentions are to raise the necessary funds, close on the property once the condemnation is lifted, and fund approximately $30,000 in delinquent property taxes into the Boroughs coffers. As I have stated in the previous two Borough council meetings, we cannot raise the necessary donations unless the condemnation is rescinded. Who wants to contribute to a condemned structure?
Harden Place is one of the most historic structures in western Pennsylvania and up until 2000, had been continuously owned and lived in by the Hays family since it was built. It represents 181 years of family legacy and the history of all who passed through its walls over 10 generations. We continue our quest to see it saved and believe that the residents of Munhall Pennsylvania and greater Pittsburgh deserve to see it saved too.
See the full prepared statement and recap, click here.
What an incredible story! This past weekend, many Hays family members and local volunteers continued cleaning and painting Harden Place. The transformation of the mansion is unbelievable! At the end of the weekend, we have:
Re-constructed the lattice work above the main porch entrance
Exterior painting of the garage, kitchen porch, roof over basement door, main porch, electrical meter box and first floor windows
Partial interior painting of the Great Room and Study
Cleaning of woodwork, fireplaces, walls and floors
Complete removal of debris from the entire second floor
A big SHOUT OUT to McClaren’s Bar and Brian McClaren for providing spectacular lunches each day for our volunteers. I will be stopping by on April 18th to thank you for your generosity and servant spirit to our cause. May God bless all members of the Hays family and local Munhall/Homestead volunteers for your support. Our cleanup goals could not have been reached without you! If you were unable to attend this past weekend, we are planning the final push this next weekend at Harden Place from 9-5 each day. The Borough council meeting will be held at 7:00 p.m. on Wednesday April 17, 2013 at the Borough building.
We appreciate all of the support and look forward to seeing Harden Place welcome family and friends for many years to come.
Also, we want to express our sincere gratitude for the donations received to-date. If you have not already done so, please consider becoming a member of the Foundation by making a donation to www.abrahamhaysfoundation.org/donate. Every donation makes a difference whether large or small!