Chalk one up for the preservation movement.
The City of Bethlehem's Redevelopment Authority is being recognized for preserving one of Bethlehem Steel's buildings and turning it into the city's visitor center.
Preservation Pennsylvania will be presenting a 2013 Historic Preservation Award for the restoration, preservation and adaptive reuse of the Steel's Stock House.
Since 1979, the Pennsylvania Historic Preservation Awards have honored individuals and organizations that exhibited excellence in the field of historic preservation.
“The annual awards program highlights the richness and diversity of Pennsylvania’s heritage and recognizes the valuable contribution historic preservation projects make to community vitality,” said Mindy Crawford, executive director of Preservation Pennsylvania.
Built in 1863, the former Stock House was the oldest remaining building on the former Bethlehem Steel site.
Sitting at the base of the western end of the massive blast furnaces, the building was first used to store raw materials for the production of iron and then steel.
“Given the building’s prominence on the site and its age and importance, we felt it was important to not only ‘rehabilitate’ the building but ‘restore’ it as well,” noted Tony Hanna, executive director of the Redevelopment Authority.
The building has been transformed into a modern visitor center complete with three giant touch-screen computer kiosks that can help visitors find attractions, restaurants and hotels.
The center also includes a box-office for shows and events, a small gift shop, a viewing alcove with a lounge and giant video screen where visitors can watch short documentaries about the history of Bethlehem Steel and the site’s redevelopment.
The Visitor Center will be staffed from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily and longer during festivals and special events.