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Building Innovation is a collection of stories by 90.5 fm WESA reporters about the Pittsburgh region focusing on efficient government operation, infrastructure and transportation, innovative practices, energy and environment and neighborhoods and community.

Heinz History Center To Preserve Kaufmann's Artifacts

The century-old Kaufmann’s building closed at the end of this summer, but fortunately, many of its most iconic artifacts will be preserved. Those who remember the Kaufmann building will be able to enjoy its most famous features at a different location.

Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto requested that all historically-relevant artifacts from the building be preserved, locally, for the public, he said. Macy’s, which officially acquired Kaufmann’s in 2006, will help relocate old holiday displays, parts of the Tic Toc Restaurant and more than 100 other items to the Heinz History Center in the Strip District.

Anne Madarasz, vice president of museum exhibits and collections, said she sees the Kaufmann’s building as a snapshot of Pittsburgh through the years.

“These are really things that tell a very dynamic story of more than 100 years of history of an anchor business for downtown," she said.

As a department store, Kaufmann's became a welcoming institution for all, whether they were visiting the city around the holidays or looking to buy a suit, according to Madarasz.

“It was a place where everyone could shop at, and yet, the interior design, the art-deco design, when [Kaufmann] redid the store, was of the highest level. So it was a place of real beauty,” she said.

It was also a hub of the community, she said.

“There was a bakery, there was restaurant, there were places for entertainment. During the 40s there were exhibits.”

Artifacts slated for preservation include Santa’s throne, the clock-motif tables in the Tic Toc Restaurant and the six-foot-tall lions that once sat at the entrance to the oriental rugs department.

Macy’s is also donating several Frank Lloyd Wright drawings to the Kaufmann Foundation. Edgar J. Kaufmann contracted Wright to design Fallingwater.

The Western Pennsylvania Conservancy, CORE Realty and the Urban Redevelopment Authority are assisting with the move.