Phase One: July
1969 - May 1971
Constructing The New Recreation Building
Work began on the new Brookline Recreation Center, located at the lower end of Oakridge Street, in July 1969. The $430,000 activities building was to be the centerpiece of the completely refurbished, and expanded, Brookline Memorial Park. Construction of the building, which took nearly two years, was the first phase of the multi-million dollar park expansion, an ongoing project that would continue until 1982.
Located outside the left field fence of the Brookline Little League field, contractor J.J. McGaffin's work crews erected a fine facility. Complete with a gymnasium with a stage, a recreation room, locker rooms, a kitchen and a multi-purpose meeting room, construction of the building was the fulfillment of a dream that began in 1962, when the Community Center Association first made plans for a modern recreation facility.
In the photo above, the man in the forefront is long-time Brookline resident Rudy Lopez. Now in his 80s, Rudy is still an avid basketball player. In the summer of 2014 one could still find Rudy frequenting the gymnasium that he helped build to shoot hoops during the morning hours.
The photo above shows the Recreation Center building in early-March of 1971, nearing completion and ready for the finishing touches. Work on the inside of the building would take another month and a half.
This April 2, 1971 photo shows the rear of the Recreation Center building where the playground would be installed. The building is nearing completion and will be ready for the grand opening in May of 1971. The lower level of the building housed rest rooms, locker rooms, the multi-purpose meeting room and the caretaker's quarters.
Interestingly, when originally planned this back area was to be used as an ice skating rink during the winter months. The meeting room in the center was called the Warming Hut. It was furnished with a tile floor, fireplace and a kitchen for serving food. These rinks were built in the winter of 1971 and 1972, but the ice proved too difficult to maintain and they were abandoned.
Below is an artist's rendition of the proposed building that appeared back in July 1969, when construction began. The building turned out pretty much as planned and has been in constant use for over five decades. It was refurbished in 2001 and 2010. It has been, and will continue to be, the centerpiece of the Brookline Park complex, which is one of the finest in the city of Pittsburgh.
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