Submitted by John DeSantis
The National Ornamental Metals Association has honored a recent Allegheny West project among the finest in the world. The newly installed massive iron gates along Galveston Avenue at the corner of Western have been recognized with the international organization’s second-highest award – The Silver Medallion.
Representing more than 9,000 shops in a dozen countries, the members of NOMA gathered in March for their annual MetalFab Conference. One of the highlights of the Conference each year is the competition among hundreds of projects seeking to be recognized by their peers for excellence in design and execution. The 600 iron artisans who vote for the selection are looking for complexity and difficulty, originality, and craftsmanship.
For iron artist Bob Thomas, whose forge is located in Charleston South Carolina, his first submission to the competition turned out to be a winner. Thomas had been commissioned to design and construct the ornamental iron gates and fence by The Pittsburgh Home & Garden Show, whose offices are located on that corner. When he first met his clients, they took him on a walking tour of the neighborhood – pointing out the extraordinary collection of authentic 19th century ironwork that has survived and been preserved in Allegheny West. Considering that much of this original architectural detail was commissioned for the homes of robber barons who owned their own iron and steel mills, Thomas immediately understood the magnitude of the task before him. He was expected to design and fabricate a set of gates that could hold their own in the company of some of the finest iron work ever made.
Bob Thomas expressed gratitude to the Home & Garden Show for providing the opportunity to create such an extravagant work of art. And he notes with pride that his gates will be enjoyed and admired for generations to come, by visitors who photograph and sketch them alongside their historic 19th century counterparts.