Thursday, July 13, 2017

RECAP // Factory 500 Tour of Wilkinsburg

Factory 500 members prepare to tour the Wilkinsburg Train Station.
On a recent rainy July day, Factory 500 members gathered at the Wilkinsburg Train Station, an iconic landmark that has stood abandoned since its closing in 1976. Tracey Evans, Executive Director of the Wilkinsburg Community Development Corporation, and John Evans, preservation architect with MacLachlan Cornelius & Filoni, gave members an in-depth look at the history and architecture of the building, including their plans for the restoration and re-opening of the site. With hardhats on, MF members stepped through the double doors into a space that the public has not seen for over forty years. Members photographed the high ceilings that reflected in the water, the original cast iron door frames, and the light that fell through the collapsing roof.

A member inspects the basement of the one-hundred year old train station.
MF members listen to John Evans explain the next steps for the building's restoration.

After removing their hardhats, Factory 500 members made their way just around the corner to Tip Type and Lovett Sundries. Tip Type, a letterpress print shop and collaborative artist-run space, is located in a traditional print shop that had been in operation since 1957. MF Members examined the antique presses, linotypes, wooden and lead typefaces, and various other artifacts of a bygone era of printmaking while Haylee Ebersole, an artist and member of Tip Type, told the story of the shop and gave a demonstration using the printing equipment. 

Haylee Ebersole demonstrates her use of Tip Type's antique printing equipment. 

Right next door, members visited with Jeff Lovett of Lovett Sundries, purveyors of local, hand-crafted apothecary items. Factory 500 members sampled hand creams, bug spray, deodorant and more. With an exclusive discount for the Factory 500 group, many members shopped and took home an array of products.

Members were able to purchase a variety of hand-made goods at a nice discount!
Following a brief drive through Wilkinsburg, Factory 500 members reconnected at the studio and home of artist, Dee Briggs. Dee shared how her ties to the Wilkinsburg and Pittsburgh communities have affected her work and positively impacted her on a personal level. Members had the opportunity to explore her studio yard, where the artist had four large-scale sculptures on display. The group was able to gain insight into Dee’s process through a visit to her design space, where she maps out her projects using architecture and design software prior to their fabrication. Mattress Factory members wrapped up the afternoon with conversation over wine and refreshments in Dee’s studio.

Dee Briggs speaks about her artistic practice in front of one of her sculptures.

Oil stick drawings, smaller sculptures, and models from Dee Briggs' studio.

For more information about Factory 500 or to join today, please visit or contact Nicole Hall at or 412.231.3169. 

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