SLIPPERY ROCK, Pa. -For the past decade, Slippery Rock University students have been lending a hand to help restore the once-decaying mill town of Braddock. Students will return April 5-7 to continue their work in rebuilding the city; on this trip they will be housed at the first Carnegie Library in the U.S.
Braddock has its share of boarded-up storefronts, abandoned houses and high unemployment levels, yet there remains a partnership between citizens of the town and the SRU Center for Student Involvement and Leadership, said Laurel Dagnon, director of programming for the center.
Fifteen students will participate this year working alongside the North Braddock Volunteer Fire Department and students from Pikeville, Ky., to help revitalize the community by putting up fencing, assisting with Code Enforcement Data Sheets, painting, planting trees and cleaning up around the Carnegie Library as it prepares to receive recognition as a Historical Landmark. The work weekend is part of a CSIL CareBreak.
"We believe staying at the library will be a cultural and historical highlight for the students," Dagnon said.
The library was named a National Historic Landmark in 2012, following its listing on the National Register of Historical Places in 1973. It is on the Pittsburgh History and Landmarks Foundation's List of Historic Landmarks.
The library remained in continuous use from 1889-1974, when neglect of the structure and lack of funds for repair, forced its closure. It was slated for demolition in the late 1970s when a group of residents formed the Braddock's Field Historical Society. The children's library portion reopened in 1983, and the society continued to re-occupy the building in the 1980s and '90s.
Currently, the library is in full operation, with a new children's library, an adult library and a pottery studio.
The opportunity for the SRU students to participate was made possible through a donation from a former SRU faculty member and CSIL support.
Slippery Rock University is Pennsylvania's premier public residential university. Slippery Rock University provides students with a comprehensive learning experience that intentionally combines academic instruction with enhanced educational and learning opportunities that make a positive difference in their lives.