Watch CBS News

Western Penitentiary set to be demolished despite some pushes to keep it

Western Penitentiary to be demolished after feasibility study
Western Penitentiary to be demolished after feasibility study 01:59

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) -- The former State Correctional Institution at Pittsburgh, known as the Western Penitentiary, is set to be demolished. It was last used as a prison in 2017.

The state did a feasibility study last year that recommended bringing the facility down. This came after speaking with several groups, including neighbors. Most recently the facility served as a set for the "Mayor of Kingstown" series. Dawn Keezer, the CEO of the Pittsburgh Film Office, says it has been used in other movies as well. 

"Look, it was built in the late 1800s. It has a great look that you just don't see anywhere else anymore," Keezer said.

(Photo: KDKA)

She made it very clear they understand the community's desire to bring it down. The feasibility study said neighbors want the lasting legacy of it being a correctional institution to be gone. But until the wrecking ball comes, the film office plans to use the site.

"We want to use it and wring every last drop of creative energy we can out of it before it's gone," Keezer said.

While the state says it plans to go forward with the plan and have it demoed by early 2027, there are some people pushing for it to stay. 

Through his attorney, Anthony Jordan wouldn't go into specifics, but it is believed he would offer tours and discuss some of the injustices of the site's history. He runs a similar site at a former mental hospital in West Virginia. His attorney says they have spoken with state and local leaders about keeping it in place. 

Right now, after demo, the site would be slated for industrial use.

"Just unused land, just like it is now, you know? I'm sure they can do something in there," Ron Yakovich of the North Side said.

Mayor Ed Gainey's office said they agree with community on clearing the site and look forward to seeing the site be used for community development.

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.