By Sam Bigham
The grandson of Domenico Masciantonio, one of the original stonemasons who built the stone shelter in Carnegie Park, is fundraising for its rehabilitation.
This structure is “one of the more significant projects that my grandfather had a hand in building,” said Charles “Chuck” Woods.
Originally built around the year 1938 through the New Deal’s funding of public projects during the Great Depression, the shelter has housed many parties, celebrations and activities including the annual Carnegie Haunted Trail.
Woods described the building’s stonemasonry as “flawless” and “rock solid,” but noted that the roofing and woodworking are in “decline.” The budget for the restoration project also lists the walkway, the concrete, lighting, plumbing and metalwork as areas of improvement.
The restoration project is estimated to cost $107,000 in total with about $77,700 going to materials and $29,000 going towards labor. Borough officials expect grants to cover three-quarters of the project, so Woods has taken it upon himself to fundraise the rest.
After a lifetime of working in public administration, the Carnegie native and member of a 300 to 400-member family all descending from Masciantonio intends to raise $25,000 to be donated to the project.
“I’m in the it's time to give back phase in my life,” Woods said.
Woods has set up a GoFundMe page where those interested can donate. He is also planning fundraising events with the Carnegie Fire Department and others throughout the rest of the year.
“I’m pretty confident we’ll get it,” Woods said.
The online fundraiser had raised $10,650 as of Sept. 22.
This project is close to Woods’s heart as he said it is about “preserving [his] family’s legacy.”
Woods said he would also like to place a plaque dedicated to his grandfather, great uncle and great aunt once the restoration project is completed.
Masciantonio and his two siblings hailed from Abruzzo, a mountainous region of Italy, so stonemasonry was an ancestral occupation. The three, along with millions more, immigrated to America during the late 1800s and early 1900s seeking greater opportunity. Masciantonio settled in the Cubbage Hill neighborhood of Carnegie and started a stonemasonry business. His handiwork can be seen around Carnegie such as the building at the corner of East Main and Sansbury streets.
The Great Depression of the 1930s hit Masciantonio hard as he lost his business. To make ends meet, he worked for Franklin Roosevelt’s Works Progress Administration allowing him to continue his stonemasonry. This is also around the time he built the stone shelter which was moved from Arch Street to Carnegie Park.
Woods said he believes the legacy of his family is Masciantonio, his journey, the structures that he built and the family that he created.
“This is an American story,” he said.
To donate, search for Stone Pavilion at Carnegie Park at gofundme.com.