Father Pitt

Why should the beautiful die?

Allegheny County Courthouse


A winter morning’s sunlight, reflected from the windows of the Frick Building, paints the tower of the Allegheny County Courthouse with stripes of gold. Henry Hobson Richardson, one of America’s greatest architects, considered this his masterpiece, though he did not live to see it completed. Philip Johnson, whose PPG Place has become the iconic symbol of the Pittsburgh skyline, called the Courthouse the best building in America.

If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, then this is an unusually well-flattered building: the city hall of Minneapolis is an acknowledged copy of it. It is not unusual for an architect to copy a famous classical or medieval building, but quite rare to copy one that was only a quarter-century old at the time. Such was Richardson’s reputation that Long and Kees, architects of the Minneapolis City Hall, were willing to pay this ultimate tribute to their master in what is widely considered their own masterpiecce.

The Courthouse is half a block south on Grant Street from the Grant Street exit of the Steel Plaza subway station.

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