PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – They were carved from sandstone a few years after the end of the Civil War and after 138 years of keeping watch over a downtown bank, they were taken away to be restored.
They had a front row seat for history in Pittsburgh’s Financial District. For 138 years, two brown sandstone lions guarded the people’s money at Dollar Bank on Fourth Avenue.
“It’s always been the bank for the people, the workers. So, when they looked at the lions, the lions were called the guardians of Fourth Avenue, but many of the customers called them the guardians of the people’s money,” Dollar Bank Vice President Of Marketing Joe Smith said.
In 2009, the deteriorating lions were taken off their gigantic perches. Decades of wear and tear, rain, sleet and snow – not to mention pollution and the flood of ’36 all took their toll.
“The nice thing here is working on this sort of heritage stuff where you are putting, I think America has got a lot of amazing buildings and it’s good that companies are starting to restore them,” Nicholas Fairplay, a master stone carver said.
Now, new lions have been unveiled, which were carved by one only a dozen master stone carvers in the country. Each stone block weighed eight tons.
“I’ve done more complicated. You can have a statue that is much more complex, but these big jobs don’t come that often. I mean, they are not every day jobs,” Fairplay said.
The fully-restored originals are displayed inside and delight the Pittsburgh family of the man who carved them more than 150 years ago.
“Maybe once or twice a month I walk past her and it gives me all kinds of good thoughts in my head and gives me all kinds of inspirations and makes me feel good,” Lawrence Kohler said.
“It captures Pittsburgh at the time of the Industrial Revolution when the immigrants were our engine and then it takes you right through today with the re-birth of our industry with technology and robotics and healthcare. It’s a wonderful story,” Smith said.