Appalachian Regional Commission Awards $1.5 million
for Johnstown Center for Metal Arts
Historic complex to be renewed as a hub for job training, artisanship & heritage tourism
JOHNSTOWN, PA – On May 12, the Federal Co-Chair of the Appalachian Regional Commission Gayle Manchin announced that ARC would award a $1.5 million “ARC POWER Grant” to the Center for Metal Arts in Johnstown.
This funding will enable Center for Metal Arts and its partners to fully restore three iconic former steel mill buildings at the Cambria Iron Works, a National Historic Landmark. When completed, Center for Metal Arts will be able to expand its educational programs in forging, blacksmithing, metal working, and artisanship, as well as fully utilize the campus facilities for the first time. This will create new jobs and foster Johnstown’s effort to build a robust heritage tourism economy which is already attracting visitors from across Appalachia, the nation, and the world. See https://centerformetalarts.org/. The project is a partnership among Center for Metal Arts, City of Johnstown, Johnstown Redevelopment Authority, and Pittsburgh Gateways Corporation, backed by many key entities and leaders in the community.
“This project by the Center for Metal Arts serves as a great representation of the intersection of tourism and economic development,” said ARC Federal Co-Chair Gayle Manchin. “I’m pleased that this POWER grant will not only help boost regional tourism, but will also create metalworking jobs in Johnstown, Pennsylvania, a place with a rich history in America’s iron and steel industry.”
Patrick Quinn, Executive Director of Center for Metal Arts, said, “CMA is making tremendous strides since its move to Johnstown four years ago, having established itself as an internationally recognized center for forging education and practice. This grant by the Appalachian Regional Commission provides critical funding for the restoration and upfit of CMA’s campus in the Cambria Iron & Steel National Historic Landmark site and is an important milestone in support of our continued growth and development.”
Dr. Robert Meeder, Chairman of the Board of Pittsburgh Gateways, the non-profit development partner said, “Pittsburgh Gateways is proud to partner with CMA and the Johnstown Redevelopment Authority on this exciting restoration, which is a catalyst for both economic and cultural development in the City of Johnstown. We thank the Appalachian Regional Commission for funding crucial to achieving the full vision of the CMA campus, a historically significant and beautiful site.”
The core team of Center for Metal Arts, Johnstown Redevelopment Authority, and Pittsburgh Gateways were strongly supported by many community leaders and organizations including Melissa Komar of Johnstown Redevelopment Authority, Mayor Frank Janakovic of City of Johnstown, and Director of Community and Economic Development John Dubnansky, Greater Johnstown Regional Partnership Chairman Mark Pasquerilla, Chairman Bill Polacek and President Mike Tedesco of Johnstown Vision Together 2025, President Mike Kane of the Community Foundation for the Alleghenies, President Sue Mann of 1889 Foundation, Linda Thomson at JARI and Michele Clapper of Johnstown Industrial Development Corporation, Director Renee Daly of Cambria County Redevelopment, and Lou Crocco at Keystone Strategic Advocacy. Richard Burkert of the Johnstown Area Heritage Association supported this project and was instrumental in saving these buildings from demolition decades ago as well as designating them as a National Historic Landmark. Johnstown is especially grateful to PA Senator Wayne Langerholc, PA Delegate Jim Rigby, Cambria County Commission and its President Tom Chernisky, and to Congressman John Joyce and Senator Pat Toomey.
The Johnstown community thanks Senator Bob Casey who provided ongoing and vigorous advocacy to bring these resources to Johnstown. “Since relocating four years ago, the Center for Metal Arts has led the revitalization of Johnstown’s arts and tourism industry. Its work restores and honors the legacy of the historic Cambria Iron Works, training new generations in the traditions of metalworking. This project would build on that work, creating jobs, increasing tourism and contributing to the broader revitalization of Johnstown as a heritage tourism hub. I was proud to advocate for this funding and will continue to work in Congress to bring funding to communities across Pennsylvania,” Senator Casey said.
The announcement on May 12 of the $1.5 million ARC POWER grant completes the funding picture for the restoration of three key buildings at the Center for Metal Arts – the 13,000 square feet Blacksmith Shop known as “The Octagon”, the 19,000 square feet Carpentry and Pattern Shop, and the 10,000 square feet Rolling Mill Administrative Building.
Center for Metal Arts is a community of metalsmiths, artists, and students exploring new skills and mastering advanced techniques. CMA offers beginner through advanced forging and metalsmithing workshops. CMA specializes in technique-based instruction and providing the metals community with quality forging tools made with pride by our in-house blacksmiths. Established in 2003, Center for Metal Arts attracts regional and international instructors. Its staff includes award-winning blacksmiths and designers, and support staff.
CMA has made its home at the iconic Cambria Iron Works, one of the earliest and most important steel & iron factory centers in America, and a National Historic Landmark owned by the Johnstown Redevelopment Agency (JRA). CMA conducts classes, training and educational workshops, and tourism activities on a year-round basis. It has established an artists-in-resident program and provides student housing at a historic church rectory in the Cambria City neighborhood of Johnstown. Center for Metal Arts and JRA have partnered with Pittsburgh Gateways Corporation, a nonprofit organization supporting community-based development in economically distressed areas of Pennsylvania. Pittsburgh Gateways is serving as master developer and funding partner. www.pghgateways.org. This is a needed and welcome investment in Johnstown, a historically important town in the early stages of a renaissance.
Contact: Patrick Quinn, Director of the Center for Metal Arts, at 814.418.0409