Crumbling foundation in Cross on the Hill poses safety hazard, donations sought

Major structural repairs are being considered for Cross on the Hill, an icon of the Alle-Kiski valley that shines from the bluff overlooking the Allegheny River in Lower Burrell.

A crumbling foundation will require up to $ 10,000 to repair, said Karen Snair, executive director of the Association of Churches of the Allegheny Valley at Harrison.

The ministry maintains the cross and pays the electricity bill to light it.

“The concrete base is starting to deteriorate,” Snair said. “We were also informed by engineers that there were concerns about the way the cross is anchored.”

Early estimates put the repairs up to $ 10,000.

For safety reasons, fundraising for repairs is a top priority for AVAC.

The cross was first consecrated in April 1956 during an Easter sunrise service at the Dreshar Stadium in Taranto with around 2,000 people in attendance.

The project is the result of a campaign by the First Presbyterian Church of Tarentum and a gracious agreement from then-landowner Mildred Hess, who signed a 99-year lease of $ 1 per year with the church to use a grassy area on his Hilltop Drive property. .

Engineers at Alcoa’s Technical Center in New Kensington designed the 34-foot cross. Allegheny Ludlum of Brackenridge donated the steel and fabricated it at her plant in New York.

The AVAC appropriated the illuminated cross a few years later.

Today it shines nightly on Tarentum, East Deer, Brackenridge and parts of Highway 28.

“We are very much aware of the popularity of the cross and the significance it has to many,” said Snair.

Because it is on private property, the cross is closed to visitors, but certain events have been organized there with permission.

Dean Ward, pastor of The river – A community church in New Kensington, recently filmed a online sermon from under the cross.

His roving services are an effort to involve people across the region in his Sunday message.

“The cross is absolutely a treasured place in our region,” said Ward. “You can’t get a more iconic symbol to represent the news of Jesus Christ. “

While filming, Ward said, he noticed the four-foot concrete base needed some attention.

“I am happy that efforts are being made because this cross is so beautifully lit at night and it is impressive to many,” he said.

Snair said repairs have been needed in the past, but it’s usually a quick fix by patching up the concrete.

This time it’s more serious, she said.

It’s been about 10 years since the cross required much attention, Snair said.

About two years ago, the department paid $ 6,500 for the rewiring. Snair said there are plans to switch to LED lighting in the coming years to save money and increase efficiency.

The upkeep is paid for only by donations, she said.

To contribute, send a check to AVAC Cross, 1913 Freeport Road, Natrona Heights, PA 15065 or visit online at

Tawnya Panizzi is a writer for Tribune-Review. You can contact Tawnya at 724-226-7726, or via Twitter .

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