Two buildings donated to steel museum
ArcelorMittal donated two historic mill buildings to the National Iron & Steel Heritage Musuem in Coatesville.
“We now get 5,000 visitors a year. I would expect this to double or triple that.” – James D. Ziegler, executive director of the National Iron & Steel Heritage Museum
COATESVILLE >> A dream more than 20 years in the making is becoming reality for operators of the National Iron & Steel Heritage Museum and the Lukens Historic District.
The organization Monday announced it completed the acquisition of two historic mill buildings, which it received as a gift from Arcelor-Mittal, current owner of sprawling steel mill property in the city.
The two buildings, known as the 120” Mill and the Motor House, will expand the museum area and will be key factors in the revitalization of Coatesville, the steel museum said in a statement announcing the acquisitions.
The nonprofit plans to renovate the unused steel production buildings into a museum centered on the story and science of iron and steel manufacturing. The combined space of over four acres in both buildings will add a large exhibit space to the education-based museum. The new space will focus on visitor displays, largescale exhibits and artifacts of iron and steel processes and products.
“It’s been a long time coming,” said James D. Ziegler, executive director of the iron and steel museum. “It’s a very kind and generous donation” from the plant’s current owner, ArcelorMittal.
The additional space and the programs they’ll bring are an important development for the museum and district, he added.
“We now get 5,000 visitors a year,” Ziegler said. “I would expect this to double or triple that.”
While the site has been actively producing iron and steel since 1810, the two buildings were built as part of the World War II effort, where steel for battleships, aircraft carriers, submarines, as well as destroyers, landing craft, and tank parts were manufactured. Production was halted in the buildings in 1982 when the rolling mill was moved to another plant in Conshohocken, the former Alan Wood Steel Plant. Efforts to acquire the buildings began in the fall of 1995, when then-Lukens Steel and the Graystone Society had the idea to reuse an industrial building on the plant grounds for community purposes.
Due to numerous ownership changes at the steel mill, the plan was often put aside as new owners were brought up to speed on the request, the organization explained on Monday. It finally became a reality with the help of current plant General Manager Ed Frey and his ArcelorMittal transition team, the museum said.
“ArcelorMittal Coatesville is pleased to transform a 20-year vision into a reality through the donation of the 120” rolling mill and motor house to the National Iron & Steel Heritage Museum,” Frey said. “This wouldn’t be possible without the support from our leadership at both the USA and corporate levels ... Yes, we produce steel that is critical to our modern life, but we also strive to be an active and welcomed member of this community. We are excited to share our industry’s history and advancements in innovation with our neighbors, children and visitors alike.”
The organization said the museum will appeal to visitors of all ages. Educational exhibits will take the visitor through the world of how steel is made, with a special focus on science and engineering. Visitors will see the multitude of structures, from bridges, to public buildings, to military vehicles that contain steel. Rotating exhibits, similar to the current, “Pennsylvania Iron & Steel: 300 years of Industrial Might,” will be showcased in the new museum, along with cherished artifacts and collections currently housed in the Lukens Executive Office Building.
Initial safety and security checks of the buildings will begin immediately. For the phased opening, a portion of the Motor House is planned to be open to visitors first, with the entire facility opening in the coming years. With its full opening, it will have over 89,000 square feet of enclosed space.
Ziegler said the National Iron & Steel Heritage Museum is working with a fundraising organization to determine how much will have to be raised for renovations.
The addition of the new buildings will showcase the current collection, including that of the Brandywine Mansion, Graystone Mansion, Terracina and the Lukens Executive Office Building, the steel museum said.
Museum President Scott G. Huston said he is pleased with the acquisition.
“This is an event we have anticipated for a very long time here at the museum. To finally be able to show visitors the life cycle of steel in its entirety and view the World Trade Center tridents as they once stood is a great honor. But most importantly, to ignite passion in young
minds to science, technology, engineering, arts, and math is critical to our collective future.”
The National Iron & Steel Heritage Museum will also house a memorial and exhibit of the World Trade Center Steel tridents (trees). The 450 tons of tridents representing nine structures will be re-erected outside of the 120” Mill. The tridents will be in the exact formation as they originally stood on the North Tower of the World Trade Center. Each massive trident will be cantilevered 10 feet in the ground to create a freestanding structure.
The official transfer of the property took place privately on Oct. 31, Ziegler said. A future groundbreaking ceremony, which will be open to the public, is planned.
Shown is the Steelworkers Memorial with the 120” Mill in the background. The memorial features one of the 50-ton steel tridents from the World Trade Center.
The team responsible for making the mill transfer a reality, from left: James Ziegler, executive director of NISHM; Scott G. Huston, president, NISHM; Charles L. Huston III, president of The Huston Foundation; Edward Frey, general manager of ArcelorMittalCoatesville; Sheldon Gregg, unit president of Local 1165-00/ USW; and Eugene DiOrio, historian at NISHM.
An artist’s rendering of the newest buildings that make up the National Iron & Steel Heritage Museum in Coatesville.