A postcard of the North Side Elks Lodge.

Saving endangered historic sites in Pittsburgh is what the Young Preservationists Association (YPA) is all about. The 2014 list of Top Ten Preservation Opportunities in our region will be unveiled tomorrow night at the North Side Elks Lodge.

Ticket sales will benefit YPA as well as support the Elks’ renovation campaign, a fitting twofer given the YPA’s slogan, “Give life to history.”

Though the full list of nominated structures is being kept under wraps, YPA’s secretary Sanjeev Baidyaroy identified two of the properties: 6012 to 6018 Penn Avenue, a building that houses Zeke’s Coffee and is slated for demolition; and 320-222 and 330 Forbes Avenue, a façade Point Park University plans to demolish in favor of a new theater complex.

Baidyaroy says by having these properties on the top ten list YPA hopes to create an ongoing discussion with owners about the possibility of preservation. Some of the success stories over the past decade include the Armstrong Cork Factory, The Union Project, and the Dormont Pool. 

“It’s possible to incorporate historic preservation into new development,” he says. “If we fail to preserve or if preservation is not an option, then we think about how we can have these discussions about the historical integrity of the site.”

For the YPA, the release event is both a chance to bring attention to threatened buildings and to encourage young people to engage in their communities says Baidyaroy. The group offers programming for high school kids as well as young professionals.

“Our hope is to be part advocate and part educator. It’s always been that these conversations have been directed toward people who are older. It’s really rare for young people these days to have an opportunity that’s strictly their own.”

In addition, YPA aims to promote the idea that historic preservation can be used to foster economic development says Baidyaroy, citing examples of a church being converted into a brewery or an old home once again being made livable.

“It’s about understanding that not everything is broken beyond repair,” he says. “So much of history has become hands off because you can’t access it, you can’t see it in your community. Preserving buildings is active history, it’s something you can see.”

The Top Ten event begins at 6:30 at the North Side Elks Lodge. Advance tickets are $30 or $20 for students; discounted YPA membership is offered with ticket sales.

Margaret J. Krauss is a writer, radio producer, and researcher. If not biking Pittsburgh's streets or swimming its rivers, she is likely geeking out about a really good story.