Watch CBS News

World War I memorial outside Pittsburgh school to be restored ahead of 100th anniversary

Century-old World War I memorial outside Obama Academy to get facelift
Century-old World War I memorial outside Obama Academy to get facelift 02:16

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) -- A century-old war statue outside an East Liberty school will soon be restored preserving its history in the community. The World War I memorial outside Obama Academy will get a facelift 100 years after it was originally built.

James Hill has been running the campaign to restore the statue installed in 1924 at the old Peabody High School.

"I always like to say that public school buildings, particularly in cities, are probably the greatest time capsules of neighborhoods," Hill said. "There's a good chance that somebody, they know a cousin or a grandfather, a great uncle is listed on this on this memorial."

Wednesday night, Pittsburgh Public Schools' board finally approved the capital project donation to do so.

"These pieces are beautiful and if they're not taken care of, they degrade quite quickly," Hill said.

It will cost $175,000 raised outside the district. So far, Preservation Pittsburgh is at 80 percent between donations from foundations, alumni and others.

Leftover money will go towards recreating a defunct outdoor classroom space surrounding the sculpture.

"It also used to be actually the original base of the school flagpole, so we're going to be getting a much shorter flagpole returned to it so it actually returns to its original and intended piece," Hill said.

It's considered the most important piece of public art at any Pittsburgh school dedicated to the more than 540 Peabody students and alumni who served in the First World War, and 17 killed in the line of duty.

Joe Ehman, who's in charge of the 11th and 12th grades, hopes this will better teach and connect students to the local history.

"This will show that, you know, at this point in time, if you were around 100 years ago, this is something that you may have been on as well," Ehman said.

Students will be working with the conservator during the restoration process while engaging in research on the war.

The work is expected to start on April 15, with a goal of finishing around May 15, before the 100th anniversary of the original dedication on May 30.

"For it to have stood here, a part of this school's history for 100 years, is remarkable. We just want to make sure that it survives the next century," Hill said.

The Obama Academy is seeking help from the community to identify family members of those recognized on the memorial who attended Peabody from 1911 to 1918, and to find film of the original dedication. If you have any information, contact

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.