Friday, June 1, 2018

The Pittsburgh Agreement Memorial

by Maryann Sivak

Pittsburgh Agreement Memorial

The Pittsburgh Agreement of 1918 was signed in the Loyal Order of Moose headquarters building.  In 1984, that building was razed to make room for the new Consolidated Natural Gas Company offices.  Local architects had failed in their attempt to have the building declared an historic landmark, so it was torn down and replaced by the CNG Tower. Today that structure is known as the EQT Building
Milan Getting and Maryann Sivak (1989)
In May, 1984, I was Secretary of the Czechoslovak Room Committee at the University of Pittsburgh.  I read how local architects had tried and failed to prevent demolition of the building where the Pittsburgh Agreement had been signed.    Being then a newly-naturalized citizen, I saw that here was an opportunity to honor this accomplishment of our immigrant ancestors. I spoke to the Committee Chairman, Milan Getting, Jr., about creating a suitable memorial.   Mr. Getting formed an exploratory committee with himself, Zdeněk Suda, Milan Liptak and me.  He appointed me to spearhead the project.  
My researching the history of the Agreement was facilitated by Professor Suda of the University of Pittsburgh, who gave advice on sources to investigate. A great deal of information was found in Pittsburgh newspapers printed immediately after Masaryk’s address.  Additional advice was provided by E. Maxine Bruhns, Director of the Nationality Rooms at the University.  
The Pittsburgh Cultural Trust is the organization that oversees restoration of significant Pittsburgh buildings and creates suitable markers/memorials when appropriate.  The Trust had once reserved a room for commemorating the Agreement, but had finally given it to another tenant.   We were then offered a niche near the new building’s escalator.   They also said that they were busy renovating the Benedum Center and had no money to spare for the Pittsburgh Agreement Memorial.  After unsuccessful requests for financial support from the American Slovak fraternal organizations, I provided the initial funding myself. Fortunately, the Cultural Trust eventually agreed to underwrite the project.   In the spring of 1989, I contacted local attorney Cynthia Maleski and asked her to meet with Carol Brown, President and CEO of the Trust, to prevent any future misunderstandings over financing.  
The Trust hired a Brooklyn firm to design the memorial’s cabinet.  At my recommendation, sculptures and graphics were created by Pittsburgh artists.  Large bronze medallions of Presidents Masaryk and Wilson were sculpted by Eleanor Milleville.  A bronze plaque was created by Jon Coulter. This included the Czechoslovak Coat of Arms, a copy of the Pittsburgh Agreement, a 1918 map of the Czechoslovak states and an architectural rendering of the Moose building.  I wrote a brochure describing the history of the Agreement.  Funds for printing were provided by the Czechoslovak Nationality Room Committee. From inception to completion the project took 5 years.
Dedication of the monument took place on October 28, 1989.  Professor Suda served as moderator.  Brief remarks were made by Pittsburgh Mayor Sophie Masloff, Richard Dickey III, Board Chairman of the Cultural Trust, and Czechoslovak Ambassador to the US Miroslav Houstecky.  The Keynote speaker was Professor Victor Mamatey from the University of Georgia, son of signer Albert Mamatey.  Dr. Ladislav Melioris, Rector of Comenius University of Bratislava presented a contemporary copy of the Pittsburgh Agreement to Milan Getting, who was the son of another signatory.

We finally had a fitting tribute to the determination of our Czech, Slovak, and Rusyn ancestors.
May 31, 2018

Jon Coulter and Maryann Sivak

Pavol Demes, Bishop Milan Lach, Maryann Sivak (May 31, 2018)
Maryann Sivak and Czech Ambassador to the U.S., Hynek Kmonicek (May 31, 2018)

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