Pittsburgh Artists Find New Home in Former Hardware Store
Kate McGrady partners with the owners of Rollier’s Hardware to open The Artsmiths of Pittsburgh, a two-story venue in Mt. Lebanon representing area artists.
photos by haley wisniewski
While Cinderella had a fairy godmother, Kate McGrady found she had godfathers — three of them, all willing to help make her dreams come true.
McGrady is the owner of the former Koolkat Designs, which operated for nine years in Mt. Lebanon before closing in May. She long had desired to expand the successful business, which showcased local artisans.
“The number of people in the city of Pittsburgh who are making handmade things far exceeded what Koolkat could represent,” she says.
About two years ago, McGrady and Kate Wagle Hitmar, Koolkat’s creative director, approached brothers Bob, Chuck and Doug Satterfield, the owners of venerable Rollier’s Hardware on Washington Road in Mt. Lebanon, about leasing the building that previously housed the hardware store.
After time spent as a Boston Market restaurant, a hobby store and a daycare, the 10,000-square-foot, barn-shaped building on McFarland Road in Mt. Lebanon was empty. McGrady and Wagle Hitmar envisioned it filled with local art, music and food.
To McGrady’s surprise, the Satterfield brothers agreed. What’s more, they didn’t want to merely lease the space but sought to be partners in the business.
“You could have blown me away,” McGrady says.
After extensive renovations, the newly christened Artsmiths of Pittsburgh — renamed to better represent the space’s expanded selection — opened in late August.
As did Koolkat, the venue features an eclectic mix of handcrafted works by area jewelry artists, potters, woodworkers, blacksmiths, glassmakers, fiber artists, photographers and more.
Unlike the one-room Koolkat, the new space’s lower floor, scheduled to open early next year, has room for exhibitions, teaching classrooms and other events.
There’s also the Koolkat Café, named for the original business, offering bakery products, sandwiches and salads from Enrico Biscotti Company in the Strip District and coffee from La Prima Espresso Company, also in the Strip. McGrady says she hopes to expand the selection in the future to sell locally made packaged foods, coffee, teas, honey and sauces.
The Artsmiths of Pittsburgh
1635 McFarland Road, Mt. Lebanon