Preservationists in Pittsburgh are concerned about the future of the historic landmark St. Nicholas Church in Pittsburgh after Lamar Outdoor bought the property.
Lamar is seeking to erect billboards on the property as PennDOT is seeking to condemn a significant amount of billboards within the public right-of-way elsewhere in the area. But it is unclear whether it plans to raze the church building itself; preservationists are hoping to convince Lamar to allow them to covert the church into a museum on American immigration -- the parish served a Croatian population.
It is a large loss for established communities when churches close, and previous efforts by preservationists to buy the property themselves have failed. To think that a historic church could be razed for the purposes of commercial advertising is almost unimaginable.
UPDATE: Preservationists unveiled plans for the museum on Friday and will be meeting with Lamar next week. Lamar, which has not yet closed the purchase with the Diocese of Pittsburgh, hopes to erect 5 billboards on the property. It's unclear if the former church property needs to be re-zoned to accomodate the billboards.