USC Citizens for Land Stewardship
Conservation and stewardship of land and natural resources in Upper St. Clair

the Land

SAVING WINGFIELD PINES -- a bit of history

by Rob MacLachlan

Background: Rob MacLachlan was a member of the Board of Directors of USC CLS at the time of the land purchase and took a leadership role in fund raising and building relationships with partnering organizations.  The following article was written at that time and discusses an interesting aspect of the fund raising.

November 18, 2001 --- USC Citizens for Land Stewardship and Allegheny Land Trust (ALT) received a significant boost in fundraising when Mellon Financial Corporation agreed to purchase six Nat Youngblood paintings of scenes from the French and Indian War for $30,000, View of troops assembling at Fort Bedford during the Spring of 1758. and in turn donate them to the Fort Pitt Museum at Point State Park. The Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission has evaluated the paintings and will be eagerly accepting them into the new $2,400,000 expansion of the museum in advance of the 250th anniversary of the French and Indian War (1754-1758).

Nat Youngblood and I are thrilled that his paintings have found a permanent public home where they can now be enjoyed by art lovers and historians alike. And I personally feel so thankful to have this opportunity to help save such an ecologically important property right in the heart of our township.

Building upon their legacy of regional philanthropy, all of us should be thankful for Mellon's willingness Army train struggling to ascend the Allegheny front between Fort Bedford and Fort Ligonier, on the Forbes Road (Rt. 30). to step forward and serve two good causes simultaneously. The purchase happened rather suddenly. Mellon's curator of art, Brian Lang, saw the original Pittsburgh Post-Gazette color article featuring the paintings and the Wingfield property and subsequently attended our Wingfield Pines media event. Brian was introduced to the property, became convinced of the worthiness of our mission to preserve it, loved the paintings, met Nat Youngblood, and then developed a proposal that culminated in Mellon's agreement to purchase and donate the paintings.

Thanks to Mellon's $30,000 cash infusion, we've gathered momentum and ALT now has sufficient funds to exercise their option on the property. Construction of Fort Ligonier. The entire purchase must be completed by December 26, 2001. Allegheny Land Trust director Roy Kraynyk moved boldly to purchase the property despite incomplete funding. Undoubtedly, were it not for the collegial working relationship between ALT and Citizens for Land Stewardship, the project would not be as far along. However, CLS and ALT still have a long way to go to raise the $230,000 needed to match the 50% funding provided by the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources.

We need to understand that ALT's reliance upon foundation support is due to unanticipated cuts in the Allegheny County budget for fiscal 2001. Major James Grant leading a regiment of 800 Highlanders is resoundingly defeated by the French near present day Grant Street, September 8, 1758. Since its creation by Allegheny County in 1993, ALT received $100,000 annually from the County for land acquisition and property enhancement. No Support was budgeted for 2001. Fortunately, there is political support for this acquisition. County Executive, Jim Roddey wrote a letter of strong support to each of the three foundations. Anyone who attended our media event could see the enthusiasm of Senator Murphy and Representatives Pippy and Maher.

It is more incumbent than ever for all of us to help fund the property purchase as best we can and in accordance with our means. Foundations certainly have a greater willingness to support such projects when there is evidence of widespread community support! Terminally ill General John Forbes arrives at the Point, 11/25/1758 one day after the Fort Duquesne is abandoned and burned by the fleeing French. Forbes writes of the victory to Chancellor William Pitt and makes the first reference to the area as "Pittsbourgh"Those of you who have already contributed may want to consider increasing your donation. As an incentive and an expression of thanks, permanent engraved plaques will be placed on the property recognizing all “Community Conservationists”. Doners will be listed under the range of their contribution. Contributions by individuals and organizations over $5,000 will be recognized through permanent signage at the entrance to the property (per Pennsylvania DCNR guidelines). Since we have yet to hear from a number of CLS members, we remain hopeful that they too will join us in saving this beautiful, vital, ecologically rich property. Please make a commitment by making a contribution. USC Citizens for Land Stewardship and Allegheny Land Trust are 501(c)(3) non-profit organizations, so your contribution is federal tax-deductible to the extent allowed by law.

The Native American caught between the struggling superpowers of Britain and France. All three were victors in their time, and losers in the end.

You can see the paintings shown above at the Fort Pitt Museum, Heinz History Center, Point State Park, Pittsburgh PA

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