Damaged monument that once stood on Quaker Valley property repaired by Leetsdale VFW

Monday, January 13, 2020 | 12:01 AM

Leetsdale VFW Post 3372 has undertaken an effort to repair a monument that sustained more than $20,000 worth of damage last summer.

The monument, dedicated by Leetsdale residents in 1941, is located on the VFW property near the intersection of Camp Meeting Road and Beaver Street, and honors U.S. military veterans.

On July 18, a motorist traveling down Camp Meeting Road lost control of his vehicle and crashed into the monument. The collision caused the mortar joints inside the monument to separate and damaged many of its sandstone bricks.

“We couldn’t believe that car did that much damage, but I guess what happened was he was driving down the hill and just lost control of his brakes,” said Alex Barlamas, of the Ambridge-based Barlamas Design and Construction. The VFW hired the company to repair the monument after the accident.

Due to issues regarding insurance coverage, repairs were delayed for several months. When that was resolved, work began in early December, according to Thomas James, quartermaster of the Leetsdale VFW post.

The monument contained a sandstone foundation embossed by a plaque honoring veterans. A large, golden bell adorned the top but did not sustain serious damage in the incident.

For several years after its dedication, the monument was located on the property where Quaker Valley High School now sits.

“A number of years ago (the school) built a gymnasium and moved (the monument) to the VFW. There are some pictures of the monument in its old location in the Leetsdale bicentennial magazine,” said James, a borough resident.

Barlamas has torn down most of the damaged monument over the past month.

The project involves “reconstructing the whole monument to the original specifications. We removed the bell and the limestone cap that was on top, and then we (removed) all the damaged sandstone,” Barlamas said.

Damage to the foundation and interior structure will be repaired, and the new monument will also have a reconstructed limestone cap. Barlamas will replace all of the sandstone with material sourced from a quarry in Butler County.

“We’re probably in the middle stage, I would say,” said Barlamas. “We’re waiting for more stone to come in.”

Reconstruction work, he said, should wrap up in early February, weather permitting. The VFW will likely hold a rededication ceremony after the project’s completion.

“I’m hoping to have a rededication, but I haven’t made any plans yet because of the weather,” James said.