The many, large windows posed a problem for events at the Pump House during the day – we needed shades. BHF had the shades do double duty with informational images painted on them by our resident artist, Bill Yund.
There are fourteen banners. Ten banners depict Homestead steel workers of each decade from 1880 to 1980, taken from various photos and resources of each era. The other four show scenes of the mill; an open hearth, a Bessemer blow, an interior scene (shown here) and a typical scene of mills and a mill town by the river.
Here’s what Bill has to say about his inspiration: “The idea for the panels is to salute the people who worked here and give some sense of the energy and dimension of the Steel Industry. In the portraits, photos and resources were used to create composites of workers in each approximate era. The idea is that any visitor who ever had a relative or neighbor who worked the mills might be able to find some portrait here that resembles ‘GranPap Joe,” or “Uncle Stush.” Hopefully, those who never had contact with the industry will also find a story.”
The next time you visit the Pump House, take the brochure that explains the meaning of the workers in each decade and stroll around to the displays. They tell a 100 year long story of the workers at Homestead, and pay homage to those who took part in the building of America. Here are the stories:
The 1880’s pose at left is taken from a worker pictured in the Lyon-Schorb & Co. collection of photos taken at the Sligo lronworks, Pittsburgh, in the 2nd half of the 19th Century .The wiry toughness of the guy seemed applicable to most workers of the tiffie, including those at the Homestead Steel Works in 1883. The features are a combination of Scotch-Irish and German, The tool is a turner, used to handle hot metal.
At right is a puddler, a proud and skilled worker whose days were numbered by technology. His issues were largely the issues at stake in 1892. They violently came to a head at the Pump House site on July 6th, and changed the balance of property vs. human rights for American workers.