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County business owners support priceless piece of history

Some say the merit of a community can be measured by the importance its people place on the history that built it.

If that’s true, the future of the John Roebling wire rope workshop, in Saxonburg’s Roebling Park, should be secure.

An article in the Sunday, Feb. 25 edition of the Butler Eagle details the recent effort of a group of county business owners to raise funds for the repair of the little shop where Roebling toiled in the late 1830s to create a sturdy wire rope.

That invention helped lead to the construction of the Brooklyn Bridge in New York City, where a plaque on the mighty span’s stone structure lauds the achievement of Roebling, a Prussian immigrant who founded Saxonburg in 1832 alongside his brother, Karl.

Unfortunately, the stone foundation laid for placement of the workshop has deteriorated over the decades since it was moved from its original location catty near Roebling Park.

As a result, the building is sinking and faces a dire fate if it is not repaired in the near future.

Fred Caesar, the longtime volunteer curator of the Saxonburg museum and indefatigable champion of Roebling’s legacy, said an engineering study estimated the cost of those repairs at $250,000.

Enter Scott Docherty, president of CID Associates in Buffalo Township, who spearheaded a donation drive that raised $3,150 toward the repair.

“There were two major inventions in Butler County,” Docherty said. “One was (the) Willys Jeep. The second was wire rope.”

Docherty gathered 90 Butler County movers and shakers at a private party on Feb. 1 to celebrate Lee and Annette Uncapher, the new owners of the Hotel Saxonburg.

Everyone at the soiree donated to the wire rope workshop project, Docherty said.

Lee Uncapher wholeheartedly agreed with the fundraising campaign at the party, especially since he and his wife own the historic hotel.

Caesar is preparing to submit an application for a $50,000 matching grant to go toward repairing the wire rope workshop, and he said individual donations roll in from people in Saxonburg and those as distant as Kentucky.

While the Butler Eagle offers a hearty tip of the cap to Docherty and all who donated at his fundraiser for the wire rope workshop, we hope everyone who has either a few dollars or a few hundred to spare will assist with this project, which will save the remnants of Roebling’s achievement for students of history to come.

Donations can be made by searching “Save The John Roebling Wirerope Workshop” on gofundme.com or by sending a check to Friends of Saxonburg Museum, PO Box 17, Saxonburg, PA 16056.

A short, yet informative video on the shop is available by searching “Save the Historic John Roebling Wirerope Workshop” on youtube.com.

— PG

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