A Northside native and lifelong newspaper man, Bill Rimmel kept the history and lore of the Northside alive for several generations.
Rimmel’s articles, some reminiscences and many straight-forward pieces of reportage, were the stuff of preserving and interpreting the community that he loved. Following this wonderful tradition, the Allegheny City Society annually honors individuals or organizations that have helped to tell the Northside’s story with its "Bill Rimmel Award."
This year the Society honored Manchester native and neighborhood leader Stanley Lowe for his long commitment to community preservation.
The Rimmel Award was presented to Mr. Lowe at the Allegheny City Society’s annual meeting on April 29. (Historical note: The annual Meeting of the Society is always held in April to coincide with the establishment of Allegheny City on April 13, 1840.)
In presenting the award, David McMunn, the Society’s secretary, spoke to the many roles that Lowe has played in preserving the Manchester community. He recalled that Lowe’s lifetime in Manchester coincided with efforts by urban renewal forces that cut the very heart out of Manchester.
More than 164 acres of land were cleared, 900 buildings were demolished, and more than 950 families were displaced to make room for the construction of Route 65. Lowe, along with many other Manchester residents, was determined to fight back against the forces that would have destroyed one of the largest neighborhoods on the Northside.
In the ensuing decades Lowe’s commitment to community preservation took him into leadership roles within the Manchester Citizens Corporation, where he championed efforts to end disinvestment in Manchester and encouraged public and private reinvestment.
Lowe worked hand in hand with the Pittsburgh History and Landmarks Foundation in helping folks to better appreciate the architectural beauty found throughout Manchester. This joint effort led to Manchester becoming one of Pittsburgh’s earliest historic districts.
Even today, Manchester is the largest historic districts in Pittsburgh. This identity, along with the fact that majority of residents in Manchester are African-American, contributed to Stanley Lowe’s emergence to a leadership role with the National Trust for Historic Preservation.
McMunn pointed out that Lowe’s role to improve the quality of life for Manchester residents and to champion the cause of community preservation continues to this day. It is through Lowe’s efforts and others’ within his community that many 19th century homes have been restored and that new houses have been built, providing homes to many working families in their neighborhood.
Presently a major project to construct more than 30 new townhouses at the large "brownfield" site of the former Steel City Electric Company’s plant on Columbus Avenue is underway. Throughout the past 30-some years Stanley Lowe has played an integral role in Manchester’s role as the "Phoenix of the Northside.”
There is little doubt that if Bill Rimmel were reporting about present day happenings on the Northside he would have been writing articles about Manchester featuring the dynamic leadership of Stanley Lowe.
Editor’s Note: John Canning is the vice president of the Allegheny City Society.