Fragments of Twin Towers may return to Coatesville
COATESVILLE -- Pieces of the World Trade Center created by Lukens Steel
workers could, in the future, be on permanent display here.
Scott Huston, a direct descendant of the Lukens family and
president of the Graystone Society, is working to obtain steel plates
or "trees" used near the base of the World Trade Center north and south
On Sept. 11, 2001, highjackers crashed
jetliners into the World Trade Center towers, the Pentagon, and a field
in Shanksville, Pennsylvania, killing nearly 3,000 people.
While both towers collapsed, fragments of the building that remained standing were Lukens Steel trees, Huston said.
wants the trees for the future National Iron & Steel Heritage
Museum slated to be built in the city’s Lukens National Historic
District. The Graystone Society, which was created in 1984 to help
preserve the city’s historic architecture, is the group propelling the
On July 11, Huston and Gene DiOrio, Graystone
Society vice president, traveled to the John F. Kennedy International
Airport, where the last remains of the towers are being stored in an
80,000-square-foot hangar. Huston and DiOrio met with New York Port
Authority officials about bringing some of the remnants back here.
"It was a very visible use of our steel," DiOrio said. "It became an emotional thing for people locally."
the 152 Lukens Steel trees used in the towers, only 13 remain. During
site cleanup most of the remnants were sold for reuse, Huston said.
and DiOrio hope to obtain three of the trees to put on display at the
iron and steel museum in the works for the city’s historic district.
The steel tree display would be part of a $25 million project.
"We want to honor not only what it means to go to work today, but also describe what Lukens did," Huston said.
the New York Port Authority has not promised anything to Huston and
DiOrio yet. Those in charge of a New York City memorial will have first
pick over any of the items that remain, according to Steve Coleman,
spokesman for the New York Port Authority.
Once 9/11 museum
organizers select items for display in New York City, a system will be
put into place to determine who gets the items that remain, Coleman
said. Huston is on the waiting list for the items that will be left
But a time frame for when those on the waiting list will
be addressed is unclear. Coleman said there are still issues to resolve
in regards to insurance companies and legal issues. Technically, the
insurance companies own the remains, Coleman said.
that if the steel trees are obtained, he hopes they can be put on
display outside so that the exhibit is free to the public. However,
there is some question as to how the steel would hold up outdoors, he
said. Currently the pieces are being stored in a climate-controlled
room where deterioration rates are being monitored, Huston said.
"Everybody is very serious about the preservation of these artifacts. These are artifacts," he said.
Construction of the World Trade Center began in 1966. The north tower opened in 1970 and the south tower opened in 1972.
obtained, the steel trees would be part of The National Iron &
Steel Museum that will use innovative technology to create interactive
exhibits to help visitors understand how steel is made and the various
items it is used for, such as aircrafts, rockets and submarines. The
museum will also tell the story of former Lukens Steel workers, Huston
Chester County is the appropriate location of such a museum because at one point it held the most iron sites, Huston said.
entire project includes the museum, Rebecca Lukens House, Terracina
House, Brandywine Rolling Mill and Lukens Iron and Steel office
Currently, Huston is working to acquire the Rebecca
Lukens House. Rebecca Lukens operated the steel mill during the 19th
century. Acquiring the property is the first step in the large project,
and is expected to be done this summer, Huston said.
Huston hopes to acquire the planned museum site -- the 112-120 Mill
Yard building complex, a former Lukens site that is currently owned by
Mittal. Huston hopes to acquire the land just before Lukens Steel’s
200th birthday, in 2010.
Once the properties are acquired, fundraising can begin for the museum, Huston said.
addition to preserving the history of Lukens Steel and the iron and
steel industry as a whole, Huston and DiOrio see the 30,000 square foot
museum as a catalyst for redevelopment in the city. The museum would
create jobs and draw in tourists, DiOrio and Huston said.
"It’s a reinvestment in your community," Huston said.
addition to the museum, there would be an additional 30,000 square feet
for commercial space that could be used for a convention center, movie
theater or indoor sports facility, Huston said.
Huston said he
is awaiting $1 million in funding from the state capital budget, which
state Rep. Tim Hennessey, R-26th, of North Coventry, helped get
appropriated. But the state still needs to release the money, Huston
said. In addition, efforts are being made to obtain federal funding for
the museum, Huston said.
The entire project is assisted through seed money from the Stewart Huston Charitable Trust and The Huston Foundation.
Huston said there will be a meeting about the project with the city’s Redevelopment Authority in September.
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