This spring the Post-Gazette published an article about the Ladies’ GAR Home in Swissvale. (“Diana Nelson Jones’ Walkabout: Swissvale home has history on its side, but little else” Post-Gazette, March 13, 2017). The online version of the article doesn’t have a photo, but I knew that if this building was visible from the train, it was worth learning more about.
It is so oddly obscure that a very observant and history-loving Barry Alfonso, a writer who lives in Swissvale, saw it for the first time on an Amtrak train. The tracks pass along what used to be the front gate.
The Ladies’ GAR Home — GAR stands for Grand Army of the Republic — was built for indigent female family members of Union Army veterans. The original structure was a 12-room home built in 1890 that burned down in 1900. A 53-room facility was built to replace it. In 1937, a 30-room extension was built.
Mr. Alfonso contacted the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette hoping to give it some exposure in case someone with extremely deep pockets might consider a future for it. That’s unlikely, though. Borough manager Clyde Wilhelm said liens go back to 2003.
More photos of the GAR Home in Swissvale are available from Love Place Photography here.
Ever since I read the article about this building, I have been thinking that there has to be use for this historic building. Before the LGAR moved to a new facility in Turtle Creek in 1996, this building was home to some 80+women.
Could this become offices? Artists studios? Micro apartments? A hotel? If it could be saved, what would you like to see in this building in the future?