Richard Mellon Scaife dies: funded conservative groups ... and historic preservation in Pittsburgh
Richard Mellon Scaife, scion of the Mellon Family, and publisher of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, died on Friday ("Tribune-Review publisher Richard Scaife dies," Pittsburgh Post-Gazette).
While he is best known for his funding of "hard right" conservative groups which have changed the nation's political discourse for the worse, I have always been amazed by the fact that Mr. Scaife was equally committed to urban revitalization and culture in Pittsburgh, providing funds to such worthy causes as the Carnegie Museum of Art and the Pittsburgh History and Landmarks Foundation, including funding for major rehabilitation projects such as Station Square, a 52-acre complex that had been a railroad station, headquarters and repair and maintenance facilities for the Pittsburgh & Lake Erie Railroad.
Scaife's financial support enabled the PHLF to act as a developer and take on wrenching, difficult projects, and helped the organization build the capacity and program to become one of the strongest historic preservation action organizations in the US (e.g., "City, PHLF announce partnership, development," Pittsburgh Business Times).
Many years ago pro-sprawl groups put forward a proposal to create an anti-"New Urbanism" group hoping to get funding from Scaife, and I pointed out to people with the Congress for New Urbanism that he was approachable from the standpoint of urban revitalization and that it was likely that he could be convinced to not fund such a group.
I don't know if the CNU pursued this, but the pro-sprawl group ended up not being created.
And it is an example, albeit rare, that it is possible to create common ground with people on urbanism and center city revitalization issues where it might not normally seem possible, because of ostensible differences in political ideology.
-- Richard Scaife tribute, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review