Go Fund Them: Save 500 Donner in Monessen
Matthew Shorraw is a lifelong resident of Monessen, and is involved in various volunteer groups and organizations throughout the city. After completing his Bachelor’s degree at California University of Pennsylvania in Commercial Music Technology in 2015, he is currently pursuing a Master’s degree in Technology Education, also at Cal U. His love and passion for music afforded him the opportunity to work with Monessen students as the new Assistant Band Director at Monessen High School. Similarly, his love and passion for his hometown led him to write Images of Modern America: Monessen, which was published through Arcadia Publishing earlier this year, in conjunction with the Greater Monessen Historical Society.
Shorraw hopes to unite his love of music and his passion for Monessen with his interest in architectural preservation by attempting to restore one of Monessen’s most prominent downtown buildings. Located at 500 Donner Avenue, the former Health Mart building has a long and illustrious history. The building was constructed from locally sourced stone and steel from the Pittsburgh Steel Monessen Plant. It was also home to the Monessen Savings and Trust Company for much of its existence.
Unfortunately, this beautiful building in the Beaux Arts style has fallen into disrepair. Some individuals believe 500 Donner is unsalvageable and should be torn down, but Shorraw strongly disagrees with them, and would love to see it restored back to its former glory. He believes it will also encourage more businesses and people to visit and invest in Monessen’s downtown.
His dream for 500 Donner incorporates all his passions into one project he’s determined to see to fruition. The first floor will have a café open to everyone and will serve coffee, pastries and sandwiches. The second floor will be home to a music center that will offer free lessons. Finally, the third floor auditorium will be restored and used as a concert hall for students from the music center, as well as for other cultural events within the city.
Shorraw is aware this is a very large undertaking, but is willing to do what is necessary to see Monessen flourish once again. His plan is first to acquire the building by offering $5,000 and spending an additional $5,000 to have it sealed to prevent further damage, before winter. It’s already in need of quite a lot of repairs, including replacing the windows, patching the roof, replacing the first floor, stabilizing upper floors, and repointing and sandblasting the exterior. He hopes to accomplish this before the year is over and begin structural work and cleaning by spring 2016. He would like to have interior work complete, such as wiring, plumbing/heating, cooling, etc., and the first floor finished by summer 2017 so that the café can be opened while the upper two floors are being completed.
Shorraw has boundless energy and a deep love for Monessen, and wants to restore a piece of Monessen history, and bring life back to his city. Won’t you help him? Secure contributions can be made via GoFundMe at gofundme.com/500DonnerMonessen.