William V. Winans Jr. Photograph Collection
William V. Winans, Jr.
linear feet (1 box)
William V. Winans, Jr. was the superintendent for the Dick Corporation construction company on the Civic Arena (now known as the Mellon Arena) as part of the late 1950s redevelopment project in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Photographer Robert E. Dick was hired by the Dick Corporation to document the construction process.
The material in this collection is in English.
Senator John Heinz History Center
Historical Society of Western Pennsylvania
1212 Smallman Street
Pittsburgh, PA 15222
The guide to this collection was written by
Encoded by Nathan Owens on February 16, 2011 from an existing finding aid.
William V. Winans, Jr. (1906-1983)
William V. Winans, Jr. was the assistant superintendent during the construction of the Civic Arena (later known as Mellon Arena). Winans was born in Brownsville, Fayette County, Pennsylvania on February 3, 1906 and was married to Grace Enfield (1909-1990).
Winans graduated from Carnegie Technological Institute in 1932 with a major in building construction. He ran the Brownsville Construction Company until 1958, and worked on the Civic Arena during its construction (1958-1961) for the Dick Corporation.
Winans was involved in other construction projects, including: the Kaufmann’s Department Store warehouse on the North Side; Ringgold High School in Monongahela, PA; Western Area Vocational-Technical School (now Western Area Career and Technology Center) in Canonsburg, PA; and the State Correctional Institute in Greensburg, PA. This information was provided by his son, David Winans.
William V. Winans, Jr. died May 27, 1983 in Brownsville, PA.
Robert E. Dick
The primary photographer for this collection, Robert E. Dick, was hired by the Dick Corporation to document the progress of the site’s construction. Dick owned a commercial photography studio, Robert E. Dick Studio, which operated from 1952 until 1970. The business was located first on Smithfield Avenue (1952-1956) and later moved to Penn Avenue (c1958). Before opening his own studio, Dick worked for George E. Koehler, Inc. on Hillside Avenue. After closing the studio, Dick was a salesman at Kadet Photoshop on Fifth Avenue.
Some photographs in this collection were also created by the United States Steel Corporation (USS). These photographs were taken by the Photographic Service of Communications Services, a division of the Personnel Services Department of USS.
Originally planned as part of the Lower Hill redevelopment project of the late 1950s, the Civic Arena was built to answer the need for a sports arena, convention center, and amphitheater to house the Civic Light Opera. When logistical plans for separate structures for an outdoor amphitheater and an indoor orchestra were complicated due to ambient sound requirements, building plans were changed to combine the two buildings into one, The Auditorium, which featured a retractable roof. This unique and ambitious design was the largest retractable stainless steel roof ever built, and provided a space for year-round entertainment.
Civic Arena opened on September 16, 1961, hosting the Ice Capades. Since then, it has become the home of the Pittsburgh Penguins hockey team; the location for many high-profile concerts and events; and, until the David L. Lawrence Convention Center opened, was the premiere location for conventions in the city. The facility would be renamed Mellon Arena in 1999 after naming rights were sold by Mario Lemieux to Mellon Financial. After the naming rights expired on August 1, 2010 and the Pittsburgh Penguins hockey team moved to the new Consol Energy Center, the empty Mellon Arena returned to the name Civic Arena.
In the summer of 2010, the Pittsburgh Penguins hockey team moved from the Civic Arena to the newly constructed Consol Energy Center across Fifth Avenue. Due to this move, the Civic Arena’s status is under question. The Allegheny County Sports and Exhibition Authority has voted to demolish the arena, but the decision would not be final unless a better use for the center could be drafted. Such ideas include nominating the facility as a national historic landmark, turning it into a public ice skating rink, or turning it into a shopping center.
Dick Corporation was the contractor for the Civic Arena construction. Founded near Pittsburgh in 1922 by Noble J. Dick, the company has become a leading construction enterprise, completing projects around the world. From humble beginnings (Dick's first project was the construction of a neighbor's garage for $100), the company has completed nationwide projects for steel mills, nuclear power plants, and postal service centers. The company has completed many projects in Pittsburgh, as well. Locally, the company built Hillman Library on the University of Pittsburgh's campus, the Pittsburgh International Airport, and PNC Park, the Pittsburgh Pirates’ baseball stadium. The Dick Corporation fell into financial woes in the 2000s mainly due to its partnership in an Illinois power plant project with the Enron Corporation. Following the collapse of the Enron Corporation, the Dick Corporation formed a smaller, separate company called dck worldwide in 2007 in an effort to acquire new bonding and capital support. In 2008, dck worldwide bought all intellectual property to the Dick Corporation, making the Dick Corporation non-existent.
Collection Scope and Content Note
The photographs in this collection are all 8” by 10” glossy gelatin silver prints. Documenting the monthly progress of the construction of the Civic Arena in Pittsburgh, PA, the photographs begin with the project's groundbreaking in 1958, and culminating in its completion in 1961. This collection is arranged chronologically by month and year, with a folder for each month. Each folder contains photographs of the construction site from different views, stamped with the photographer's information and date on the back. Accompanying many of the photographs are “Transmittal” forms, indicating that the photographs were from Fred P. Fanto to H. R. Helvenston, the resident engineer and superintendent of the project. These forms note the date they were sent, as well as the views from which the photographs were taken.
Additionally, this collection contains a folder with correspondence regarding public relations for the project. This folder, arranged at the end of the collection, is from 1960. The materials (one letter, press release information, and one photograph) are from William E. McElwan from the advertising firm Ketchum, MacLeod, and Grove, Inc., and are addressed to Fred P. Fanto.
Controlled Access Terms
- Winans, Jr., William V., 1906-1983
- Dick, Robert E.
- Civic Arena (Pittsburgh, Pa.) – Construction
- Downtown (Pittsburgh, Pa.)
Access and Use
Gift of David Winans on December 2006.
Photograph Collection of William V. Winans, Jr., 1958-1961, PSS#027, Library and Archives Division, Senator John Heinz History Center
This collection was processed by Sarah Hackett in May 2005.
The Senator John Heinz History Center does not own reproduction rights to all of the material in this collection. All responsibility for questions of copyright is assumed by the user.
Property rights reside with the Senator John Heinz History Center. Literary rights are retained by the creators of the records and their heirs.
Additional collections relating to the Civic Arena construction and the 1950s Pittsburgh redevelopment project includes: