PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – March 17. Minniefield Construction Company demolishes the historic Brashear telescope factory on the North Side, after part of the wall collapsed onto an apartment building.
An empty field is about all that remains of that old factory, with one exception: the demolition crew found a time capsule that dates back 120 years. The question now is, who gets to keep it?
Minniefield claims salvage rights, but Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto says it belongs in a museum, “Where every Pittsburgher can see it and know that that’s part of our combined history. That that’s part of what made this city, and that would be there in the future.”
Some 60 artifacts in the brass box include photos of John Brashear and his wife Phoebe. Since then, a judge issued an emergency order removing the box to Heinz History Center, while a final decision awaits.
History Center President Andy Masich hopes the new discovery can be added to a permanent exhibit, which celebrates the astronomer’s achievements.
“He kept working, hour after hour, polishing and perfecting, inventing new mirrors for refracting telescopes, grinding lenses more perfectly than anyone else, and building some of the best telescopes in the world.”
Calls to Minniefield Construction this week unanswered.
Meanwhile, Mayor Peduto says, “We’ll try to work with the contractor to make sure the history of that box is forever available to the people.”