Blotter‎ > ‎

Collapsed 'Primo Event Hall' dismantled

posted Jan 5, 2017, 7:19 PM by Joseph Gray   [ updated Jan 5, 2017, 7:21 PM ]

Mary Ann Thomas | Sunday, Jan. 1, 2017, 6:45 p.m.
Louis B. Ruediger | Tribune-Review
Joli Cibik salvaged some photographs Sunday morning from the Primo Event Hall, the former Sons of Italy in Vandergrift, which collapsed Saturday night.
Louis B. Ruediger | Tribune-Review
A demolition crew works Sunday, Jan. 1, 2017, on the remains of the Primo Event Hall, which collapsed Saturday night. The building was rented out for an event but was vacant at the time of the collapse. The structure is the former Sons of Italy on Lincoln Avenue in Vandergrift.
Louis B. Ruediger | Tribune-Review
Jim Cibik, co-owner of the Primo Event Hall, and his wife, Joli, survey the collapsed section of the building Sunday morning, Jan. 1, 2017. The collapsed structure is the former Sons of Italy on Lincoln Avenue in Vandergrift.

A demolition crew quickly dismantled some Vandergrift history Sunday, removing large chunks of bricks and twisted steel from the former Sons of Italy hall, which unexpectedly collapsed Saturday just hours before a party.

“We are super grateful that there were angels above,” said Joli Cibik of Kiski Township, the wife of one of the building's owners. 

No one was injured when the building collapsed just after 5 p.m., hours before a birthday party. The building was vacant as planners shopped at Sprankle's Market next door, Cibik said.

Because of safety concerns of debris hitting cars or pedestrians, the borough arranged for a demolition crew to remove loose bricks and other materials Sunday morning from the two-story commercial building.

Police on Sunday reopened the intersection of Franklin Avenue and Walnut Street and a portion of the parking lot between Sprankle's and the collapsed building, now known as the Primo Event Hall.

Most of the debris fell toward the supermarket parking lot where several cars were damaged, including the mayor's.

Cibik was able to access the inside front of the building to salvage old photos of Tony Chin, who was supposed to have his birthday party in the hall New Year's Eve, as well as an intact banner that read “lordy, lordy, look who's 40.”

“You can't get this stuff back,” she said.

Unfortunately, most — if not all — of the old photos and memorabilia from the founding days of the Italian club are likely lost, Cibik said.

The two-story, approximately 8,000-square-foot hall was built in 1915 by Italian immigrants.

“It's sad; it's an iconic building,” said Brian Carricato, president of Vandergrift council.

“Every person in town has been there for christenings, dances, bingos and spaghetti,” he said.

Sunday cleanup

The building is off-limits to the property owners and others as the borough has deemed the structure unsafe for people to enter, Carricato said.

The borough designated its emergency management coordinator, Steve Potoka, to oversee the safety of the building.

The roof and portions of the second floor collapsed inside the building, according to Carricato, who was not sure how much of the second floor fell into the first.

When the insurance investigation is complete, the borough will meet with the owners to learn the fate of the building.

“It makes you sick,” said one of the building's owners, Dave Cable. “We spent so much time and energy to fix it up.”

The hall, which could hold 150 people, was booked every weekend, he said.

No one knows what caused the collapse of the hall, Potoka said.

Some thought there could have been some kind of explosion because there were pieces of insulation hanging in a nearby tree. But Potoka and Cable said they don't know if that was the case.

Mary Ann Thomas is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach her at 724-226-4691 or