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THE STRONG CARD

PITTSBURGH JAZZ

 

From Blakey to Brown, Como to Costa, Eckstine to Eldridge, Galbraith to Garner, Harris to Hines, Horne to Hyman, Jamal to Jefferson, Kelly to Klook; Mancini to Marmarosa, May to Mitchell, Negri to Nestico, Parlan to Ponder, Reed to Ruther, Strayhorn to Sullivan, Turk to Turrentine, Wade to Williams… the forthcoming publication Treasury of Pittsburgh Jazz Connections by Dr. Nelson Harrison and Dr. Ralph Proctor, Jr. will document the legacy of one of the world’s greatest jazz capitals.

 

Do you want to know who Dizzy Gillespie  idolized? Did you ever wonder who inspired Kenny Clarke and Art Blakey? Who was the pianist that mentored Monk, Bud Powell, Tad Dameron, Elmo Hope, Sarah Vaughan and Mel Torme? Who was Art Tatum’s idol and Nat Cole’s mentor? What musical quartet pioneered the concept adopted later by the Modern Jazz Quartet? Were you ever curious to know who taught saxophone to Stanley Turrentine or who taught piano to Ahmad Jamal? What community music school trained Robert McFerrin, Sr. for his history-making debut with the Metropolitan Opera? What virtually unknown pianist was a significant influence on young John Coltrane, Shirley Scott, McCoy Tyner, Bobby Timmons and Ray Bryant when he moved to Philadelphia from Pittsburgh in the 1940s?  Would you be surprised to know that Erroll Garner attended classes at the Julliard School of Music in New York and was at the top of his class in writing and arranging proficiency?

 

Some answers  can be gleaned from the postings on the Pittsburgh Jazz Network.

 

For almost 100 years the Pittsburgh region has been a metacenter of jazz originality that is second to no other in the history of jazz.  One of the best kept secrets in jazz folklore, the Pittsburgh Jazz Legacy has heretofore remained mythical.  We have dubbed it “the greatest story never told” since it has not been represented in writing before now in such a way as to be accessible to anyone seeking to know more about it.  When it was happening, little did we know how priceless the memories would become when the times were gone.

 

Today jazz is still king in Pittsburgh, with events, performances and activities happening all the time. The Pittsburgh Jazz Network is dedicated to celebrating and showcasing the places, artists and fans that carry on the legacy of Pittsburgh's jazz heritage.

 

WELCOME!

 

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    MARY LOU WILLIAMS     

            INTERVIEW

       In Her Own Words

REVITALIZATION OF THE NEW GRANADA THEATER

Information

REVITALIZATION OF THE NEW GRANADA THEATER

Marimba Milliones, now executive director of the Hill District Community Development Corp., is heading the effort to resuscitate the New Granada.

Location: 2015-2017 Centre Avenue
Members: 41
Latest Activity: Jul 18, 2014



Discussion Forum

Landmark collaboration for Hill District community revitalization

Started by Dr. Nelson Harrison Jul 18, 2014. 0 Replies

Jul 16, 2014By Courier NewsroomMarimba MillionesNearly three years ago, the Hill District community…Continue

Tags: avenue, cantre, theater, wylie, jazz

$27 million project could reunite Downtown and the Hill

Started by Dr. Nelson Harrison Apr 20, 2014. 0 Replies

April 10, 2014 11:17 PMBy Mark Belko / Pittsburgh Post-GazetteA local authority is laying the groundwork for a daunting — and expensive — plan to reunite Downtown and the Hill District.The…Continue

Tags: network, pittsburgh, music, mark, belko

THE HISTORY AND HERITAGE OF THE NEW GRANADA THEATER

Started by Dr. Nelson Harrison Jan 10, 2010. 0 Replies

The History and Heritage of the New Granada TheatrePrepared by the Hill Community Development Corporation (Hill CDC) for thebuilding Description, Design & Construction History of the proposed…Continue

Tags: ballroom, savoy, pittsburgh, centre, avenue

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Comment by Ricco J.L.Martello on October 9, 2010 at 12:10am
Hey check out the story I wrote on Roy Ayers and Tom Brown
http://www.newpittsburghcourieronline.com/index.php?option=com_cont...
Comment by Dr. Nelson Harrison on September 25, 2010 at 2:15am
Historic Review Commission of Pittsburgh
200 Ross Street, Fourth Floor, Pittsburgh, PA 15219


NOMINATION FORM FOR HISTORIC STRUCTURES, SITES, OBJECTS, AND DISTRICTS



1. HISTORICAL NAME OF PROPERTY Pythian Temple
(If applicable)

2. CURRENT NAME OF PROPERTY New Granada Theater
(If applicable)

3. LOCATION
Street 2009 – 13 Centre Avenue
City, State Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Zip Code 15219-6301

4. OWNERSHIP
Name: Hill Community Development Corporation
Street 2015 Centre Avenue
City, State Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Zip Code 15219-6301


5. CLASSIFICATION

Category Accessibility Ownership

X Structure X Private X Private

District Private, Open Public
to the public
Site

Object

6. NOMINATED BY
Name Chloe Velasquez
Street 418 North Taylor Street
City, State, Zip Code Pittsburgh, PA 15212


7. DESCRIPTION
Provide a narrative description of the structure, district, site, or object. If it has been altered over time, indicate the date(s) and nature of the alteration(s). (Attach extra pages if necessary.)


The Centre Avenue front is the principal facade. There is a four-story brick and terra cotta structure decorated in the late English Gothic style known as Tudor. Below the crenellations at the top are coats-of-arms and projecting bands of molding with foliaged tips, laid in vertical strips across the facade and bent into flat-topped frames around the store windows on either side of the main entrance. The store windows and the grand arched entrance adorned with Tudor flowers had transoms inset with textured glass panes or prisms, popular in display windows since the 1890s.

The Wylie Avenue side, at the top of the hillside and across the street from Ebenezer Baptist Church, is narrower, three-stories high, and constructed of patterned brick. Over the arched center doorway is the inscription, “Pythian Temple A.D. 1927.” Originally there were shops on the first floor and offices above.

In 1937, Pittsburgh architect Alfred M. Marks prepared plans to convert the building into a commercial theater. In 1938, now sporting a polychromatic Art Moderne first floor front, the Pythian Temple became the New Granada Theatre.



8. HISTORY
Provide a history of the structure, district, site, or object. Include a bibliography of sources consulted. (Attach extra pages if necessary.) Include copies of relevant source materials with the nomination form (see Number 11).

Pittsburgh’s New Granada Theater was built in 1927 as a lodge for a local chapter of a national African-American fraternal organization of construction workers called the Knights of Pythias. The Knights of Pythias were devoted to “toleration in religion, obedience to law, and loyalty to government.” Its inspiration and name came from the story of the Greek friends, Damon and Pythias; its appellation as a knighthood was based on the medieval concept of chivalry. The Pythian Temple was the headquarters for the local chapter as well as provide office and commercial space and recreational and entertainment facilities for the community.

The Knights of Pythias presented public exhibitions of quasi-military drill team exercises. Hence the need for a 5,000-square-foot drill hall (that could be converted into a banquet hall). The second-floor auditorium, with its innovative seating arrangement that allowed the space to be used as a basketball court, was, according to the local African American newspaper The Courier, “a long-felt want.” It immediately became the community showplace, attracting nationally known black entertainers to Pittsburgh.

In the 1930s, the Knights were forced to sell the building. In 1937, Pittsburgh architect Alfred M. Marks created plans to convert the building into a commercial theater and the new owner, Harry Hendel, closed the original Granada Theatre on Centre Avenue and moved two blocks to the Pythian structure. Because it was a different location for the Granada, the word “new” was added to its name. The New Granada’s theater was built like an indoor amphitheater, with a sloping grade and carpeted center aisle. On the second floor was the lavish ballroom—first called the Hill City Auditorium and later the Savoy Ballroom—where the jazz greats played. First opened in 1941, the ballroom had indirect lighting, beautiful venetian blinds, colorful drapes, wall murals and a revolving crystal ball.

Despite the changes in ownership, the second-floor ballroom quickly became a hot spot for blacks from all over the city, who weren't allowed to dance at other venues. Rising jazz stars began to play there; out-of-town artists stopped in on their way from Chicago to New York or vice versa, and locals like Stanley Turrentine, Lena Horne, and Earl “Fatha” Hines made regular appearances along with such legendary names as Duke Ellington (who was named the “King of Jazz” at the New Granada), Louis Armstrong (who performed a relief concert after a 1936 flood), Dizzy Gillespie, Ella Fitzgerald, Billy Eckstine, James Brown, the O’Jays, and Peaches & Herb.

At one time, the New Granada Theatre was one of four movie theaters in the Hill. By 1942, all that remained were the New Granada and the Roosevelt Theater, nearby on Centre where the AUBA Triangle Shops are now situated. The Roosevelt eventually closed, leaving only the New Granada.

The New Granada Theater fell into disuse and disrepair in the 1960s, and has sat vacant for nearly two decades becoming nearly as famous for its neglect as for its history. Continued neglect and prohibitive rehabilitation costs threaten the New Granada's future.

Sources:
Brown, Eliza Smith, Dan Holland, et al, African American Historic Sites Survey of Allegheny County. Harrisburg: Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission, 1994, p. 147.

Fuoco, Michael, “‘New Granada’ isn't so new anymore, but plans will help restore luster,” Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Monday, April 12, 1999.

Kidney, Walter, Pittsburgh’s Landmark Architecture: The Historic Buildings of Pittsburgh and Allegheny County. Pittsburgh: Pittsburgh History & Landmarks Foundation, 1997, p. 324.

Palm, Kristin, “A boarded-up theater in Pittsburgh’s Hill District holds the key to community; collective memory,” Metropolis Magazine Online (http://www.metropolismag.com/html/content_0201/per.htm), February 2001.

Tannler, Albert M., “Louis Bellinger: Pittsburgh’s African-American Architect,” Pittsburgh Tribune Review, Sunday, February 9, 2003.

Toker, Franklin, Pittsburgh: An Urban Portrait. University Park: The Penn State University Press, 1986, p. 240.


9. SIGNIFICANCE
The Pittsburgh Code of Ordinances, Title 11, Historic Preservation, Chapter 1: Historic Structures, Districts, Sites and Objects lists ten criteria , at least one of which must be met for Historic Designation. Describe how the structure, district, site, or object meets one or more of these criteria. (Attach extra pages if necessary.)

The Pythian Temple (later named the New Granada Theater) at 2000-13 Centre Avenue in Pittsburgh’s Hill District meets the following criteria for designation as a “historic structure” in accordance to section 1.4 of the Pittsburgh Historic Preservation Ordinance.

4. Its identification as the work of an architect, designer, engineer, or builder whose individual work is significant in the history or development of the City of Pittsburgh, the State of Pennsylvania, the Mid-Atlantic region, or the United States.

Louis A. S. Bellinger, was one of only 60 African American architects practicing in the United States in 1930 (compared to 22,000 white architects). Mr. Bellinger was Pittsburgh’s most significant African American architect during his lifetime. The most important building he designed during his career was the Pythian Temple, completed in March 1928. There are very few of Bellingers buildings standing today, and none as prominent as the Temple. The loss of this significant structure would be a detriment to the African American community of the Hill District, the City of Pittsburgh, and to the United States for losing a historic architectural landmark for the city and for African Americans nationwide.

1. Its location as a site of a significant historic or prehistoric event or activity.

2. Its identification with a person or persons who significantly contributed to the cultural, historic, architectural, archaeological, or related aspect of the development of the City of Pittsburgh, State of Pennsylvania, Mid-Atlantic region, or the United States.

7. Its association with important cultural or social aspects or events in the history of the City of Pittsburgh, the State of Pennsylvania, the Mid-Atlantic region, or the United States.

And

10. Its unique location and distinctive physical appearance or presence representing an established and familiar visual feature of a neighborhood, community, or the City of Pittsburgh.

During the Hill District’s prime, jazz music was everywhere and the Pythian Temple was where many of the most legendary performers played when they came to Pittsburgh. Famous musical entertainers such as Lena Horne, Earl Hines, Duke Ellington, Louis Armstrong, Stanley Turrentine, Billy Eckstine, the O’Jays, Peaches & Herb, James Brown, Dizzy Gillespie, and Ella Fitzgerald, performed for the local African-American community and the nation (via national broadcast performances). Today, it is one of the only remaining signs of the events that used to occur daily.

The Pythian Temple rests on a very prominent location at the heart of the Hill District on Centre Avenue, and could easily become the cornerstone of the community once again. As one of the largest structures on Centre Avenue it has been a noted landmark within the community since it was Completed in 1927. The main façade (facing Centre Avenue) construction features brick and terra cotta, with highly detailed decorative foliage and coats-of-arms. The Tudor-styled street-front building is an asset to Pittsburgh’s historic Hill District and to the city as a whole.



10. NOTIFICATION/CONSENT OF PROPERTY OWNER(S)

Please see attached letter to the Hill CDC.










11. NUMBER AND SUBJECTS OF PHOTOGRAPHS INCLUDED WITH THE NOMINATION FORM

Photo 1: The New Granada Theater in 1935.
Photo 2: New Granada Theater in 2002.
Photo 3: Rear of the New Granada showing datestone.
Photo 4: Rear of the New Granada Theater in 2002.
Photo 5: New Granada Theater in 1992.








12. LIST OF SUPPORTING DOCUMENTS SUBMITTED WITH THE NOMINATION FORM












NOMINATION FORM PREPARED BY:

Name Kemo Crawford, Dan Holland, and Sean Simmons, YPA Board Members

Address PO Box 2669
Pittsburgh, PA 15230-2669

Telephone 412/261-2747

Photo 1.
The New Granada Theater in 1935.
Photo from “Louis Bellinger: Pittsburgh’s African-American Architect,” Pittsburgh Tribune Review, Sunday, February 9, 2003.

Photo 2. Photo 3.
New Granada Theater in 2002. Rear of the New Granada showing datestone.
Photo by Dan Holland. Photo by Dan Holland

Photo 4.
Rear of the New Granada Theater in 2002.
Photo by Dan Holland.

Photo 5.
New Granada Theater in 1992.
Photo from African American Historic Sites Survey of Allegheny County, p. 147
Comment by Flo Taylor on May 13, 2010 at 2:27am
Because of Pittsburgh's rich jazz history and cultural diversity it would be wonderful to see the New Granada restored and utilized instead of just sitting and falling further into decay. Pittsburgh certainly has a sufficient number of musicians to make it a showplace, once again bringing life to a historic facility, restoring it to a venue complementing Pittsburgh's multi-talented, multi-faceted artisans!
Comment by C. Denise Johnson on February 1, 2010 at 2:44am
See Dr. Harrison's comments below
Comment by Muddy Kreek Blues Band on January 14, 2010 at 4:47am
I work on the Hill every day I see this buliding and I always thinks man I'd love to play in there! all singers and players should want to jam in there to..
Comment by Dr. Nelson Harrison on January 10, 2010 at 5:45am
$1.1 million stabilization of New Granada under way
By C. Denise Johnson | Published Yesterday | Metro | Unrated
C. Denise Johnson
Courier Staff Writer

View all articles by C. Denise Johnson
$1.1 mil stabilization of New Granada under way

The highly-anticipated Pittsburgh marathon can’t hold a candle to the long distance quest to save the New Granada Theater.

Marimba Milliones, now executive director of the Hill District Community Development Corp., is heading the effort to resuscitate the New Granada. She believes “the New Granada Theater captures past hopes and future possibilities of the historic Hill District.”

Working with Pittsburgh History and Landmarks Foundation and The Reinvestment Fund on fund-raising and technical support and with grants from the state of Pennsylvania, The Heinz Endowments and Allegheny County—that bright future may be near.

The HDCDC, owners of the property, acknowledges that this is the first step of a journey, but an important first step no less.

“We need the community’s continued support on the renovation of this historic landmark and are currently putting together a task force to continue pushing the effort forward.”

A glimmer of light began to flicker when the community came together to voice opposition to a proposed location of Pittsburgh’s first casino in 2006.

The establishment of a community benefits agreement (CBA) increased that light’s intensity. That was followed in quick succession with funding in grants from foundations and non-profits.

On Feb. 26, the Allegheny County Economic Development, Community Infrastructure and Tourism Board awarded Pittsburgh History & Landmarks Foundation a $91,000 grant for the New Granada Theater stabilization. With this grant, the $1.1 million project is fully funded.

The New Granada stabilization project is also being supported by a $500,000 grant from The Heinz Endowments and $500,000 from the Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program through the Hill’s state Rep. Jake Wheatley.

“With the current completion of the Library and the capital campaigns for the Kaufman Center and the recent announcement of the grocery finally coming back to Centre Avenue, I believe that the New Granada is the linchpin that can connect all of Centre Avenue’s recent and future developments,” said Rep. Wheatley.

“Not only will the New Granada revitalization stand as a physical reminder of where we have come but as a sort of communal psychological reminder of all the energies, hopes and work that has gone into bringing our beloved Hill District back to life. This project more than any other with the possible exception of the grocery store is the most needed to demonstrate the long-term success of the revitalization efforts on Centre Avenue.”

Now when you go past the New Granada, you’ll see its front facade girded by scaffolding as the building stabilization proceeds.

“At one time, the Granada had 1,500 seats,” said Milliones. “Our plan moving forward will be to create it into a mixed-use space: commercial, office, cultural and maybe residential. We will need to do further evaluation on what this emerging market demands.”

Yet still, when you shine a glimmer a hope on the New Granada it is met apathy in response from some quarters of the community, some of it justifiable after decades of discussion and false starts. So why keep whipping a dead horse?

Milliones sees the progress with the historic structure as a potential catalyst to spark renewed interest and replace the vacant lots that dot Centre Avenue once you pass Devilliers and Dinwiddie streets.

“The New Granada Theater is easily one of the largest physical spaces in the Hill District and is strategically located at Centre and Dinwiddie, which connects the Lower Hill to the Middle Hill as well as Uptown to the Middle Hill,” Milliones said. “Although we have not fully defined its future use because it is so large, it may serve as performance space, office and commercial space, cultural space and more. It is hard to appreciate the capacity of this project and its potential impact on the community until you have a chance to walk through the interior of the structure.”

Milliones now gives tours to the community and interest organizations once a month.

“The stabilization of the New Granada Theatre is definitely creating a new energy in the community. Businesses that weren’t interested in locating in the Greater Hill District are now taking a serious look at locating in the Hill District,” said Bill Generett, executive director of the Pittsburgh Central Keystone Innovation Zone, an incubator for small businesses.

Those businesses now include small technology firms who cite the flurry of development on the Hill as impetus for renewed interest, said Generett. “The development activity of the new arena, the YMCA, the opening of the new library and the grocery store provide an impetus for considering the Hill District as a prime location to grow a business.”

Generett says the visible progress of the scaffolding on the Granada speaks volume as to the growing renaissance of the historic neighborhood.

There are, however, naysayers who still believe its future is doomed with the soon-to-be-opened August Wilson Center for African American Culture in the Cultural District poised to be the prime performance venue for the community.

“The August Wilson Center is an important part of our future and we wish it the greatest success. There are a number of synergistic roles that the buildings can play between each other including accommodating artistic and cultural needs for Pittsburgh ever-evolving artistic community,” Milliones said. “But again, the Granada’s size lends it to re-uses that include residential space, commercial, educational, institutional and more. We will be completely open as we move into this next phase of development.”

Which is a good thing, especially since the New Granada resurrection isn’t out of the woods.

“In a perfect world, we would be able to raise enough for the entire redevelopment of the building, but we understand that buy-in and financial support is gradual, particularly in this economic environment,” Milliones said. “Our immediate need hovers at about $500,000 so that we can move into a phase which includes design, planning, fund-raising and additional stabilization of the structure.”

Milliones hesitated to provide a number of how many dollars are required to complete the restoration project due to the number of variables involved as well as how long it would take. “Its difficult to fix a number to it due to fact that it has yet to be determined what the final use of the building will be,” she said.

Suggested uses have included a mix of retail and office space, lofts, gallery space combined with the structure’s original use as a showplace and multipurpose/ballroom. Add in state of the art facilities to accommodate the latest technology, and it could add up to a pretty penny.

“What it means that the community, and Greater Pittsburgh, should view (the New Granada) as preserving the past while investing in the future,” Milliones said.

Interested donors may contact the Pittsburgh History and Landmarks Foundation at 412-471-5808 and contribute to the New Granada Theater. All donations are tax-deductible.
Comment by Dr. Nelson Harrison on January 10, 2010 at 5:44am
Heinz grant to revitalize Hill District theater
Thursday, May 10, 2007
By Ervin Dyer, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

The fading New Granada Theatre in the Hill District moved a step closer to new life yesterday, thanks to a $200,000 grant from The Heinz Endowments that will begin the process of stabilizing the storied theater.

The New Granada, one of the last remaining works of early 20th-century African-American architecture in Western Pennsylvania, is weathered from 40 years of neglect and non-use.

"We are so excited," said Marimba Milliones, a member of a Hill committee leading the way to polish up the former movie house and ballroom. "The Granada is just the heart and soul of the Hill. Its rehab will re-awaken the hope and belief that the Hill is going to be a great community again."

The Hill District grant will go to the Pittsburgh History & Landmarks Foundation, working with the Hill Community Development Corp. to begin stabilizing the structure of the New Granada.

The building will require as much as $2 million to complete stabilization. The Heinz funding will be matched with a grant from the state Department of Community and Economic Development. The funding also will support a team of local and national consultants studying possible uses for the theater.

The theater funding was among 221 grants totaling $36.9 million that The Heinz Endowments approved during a two-day meeting of the foundation board that ended yesterday.

The largest grant, $5 million, went to Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh to create the Pediatric Environmental Medicine Center.

The program will be housed at the $575 million, green-certified hospital under construction in Lawrenceville,

The center will focus first on developing new approaches for the prevention and treatment of asthma due to its prevalence in minority and medically under-served communities, but also in response to recent reports identifying Pittsburgh as second from the bottom in air quality among American cities.

But the Environmental Medicine Center also will have the broader goal of making consideration of environmental links to health problems standard in any medical setting.

The grants reflect The Heinz Endowments' new plan to shift at least 30 percent of its philanthropy over the next five years to special areas of concentration. These include supporting the reform of the Pittsburgh Public Schools; assistance with wiser economic development that is technologically and environmentally sound; and influencing the direction of Downtown development.

One grant that does the last is $200,000 for construction opportunities that will go to the Community Loan Fund of Southwestern Pennsylvania in partnership with the Minority and Women Educational Labor Agency. It is designed to help minority- and women-owned businesses to increase capacity so that they can successfully participate in larger construction jobs, especially those stemming from the boom in Downtown development.

The program will provide financial backing for certification requirements that will allow these firms to bid on progressively larger projects.

Other grants approved yesterday include:

$3 million to the Carnegie Museum of Art to cover costs of repairs made to skylights and ceilings in its galleries.

$2 million to the Pittsburgh Public Schools to continue the foundation's support for Superintendent Mark Roosevelt's Excellence for All Initiative.

$2 million to the Carnegie Library to provide renovation, remodeling and educational resources for branches in the Hill District, North Side and East Liberty.

$2 million to the Manchester Craftsmen's Guild to assist in establishing a $10 million endowment, and to support a new business plan designed to improve program quality and operating performance.

$747,000 to Citizens for Pennsylvania's Future for continued operating support of the environmental nonprofit.

A total of $700,000 to several grantees to support continued growth of charter and faith-based schools.
First published on May 9, 2007 at 10:56 pm
Ervin Dyer can be reached at edyer@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1410.

Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/07130/784879-53.stm#ixzz0cBYd8LHK
 

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