HOMEWOOD, Pa. (KDKA) — Founded by Mary Cardwell Dawson in 1941, the National Negro Opera House — a historical landmark — has sat abandoned along Apple Street in Homewood for decades.
Getting funding to fix it has been elusive. The paneling is peeling, the columns are collapsing, and a piece of Pittsburgh’s Black history is hanging on by a thread.
“Every time I see it, it breaks my heart because here’s this piece of history that’s here in our great City of Pittsburgh, that’s wasting away,” said Sydni Goldman, the creative director of the National Negro Opera House.
Home of the first Black opera company, a place where greats gathered and world-renowned voices once rattled the walls, the opera house was recently named one of the 11 most endangered places in America by the National Trust for Historic Preservation.
Now voices from all over are joining to preserve it through the #OperaHouseChallenge. Organizers are calling on singers from across the country to use their singing power to raise attention and renovation dollars.
Chantal Braziel, a professional singer, helped launch the challenge.
“We would like them to post a video of them performing, tagging the National Opera House,” said Braziel.
The future vision for the dilapidated structure is a reflection of the past, according to Goldman.
“For it to really become a gathering place once again in Homewood where people like artists and creatives can come together again,” Goldman said.
The magic of music and hard work could raise the collapsing roof of one of Pittsburgh’s fading Black artifacts.
“If we don’t care about it, who’s going to care about it?” said Goldman.
The road to restoration is both cumbersome and costly. Goldman estimates the total restoration costs could be around $5 million.
For more information about how to contribute, click here.