East Liberty Presbyterian Church

Franklin Toker suggests that, per square foot, this is the most expensive church ever built in America. It was built with Mellon money, so it is sometimes called the Mellon Fire Escape by locals who see it as an atonement for the sins inevitable on the way to becoming the richest family in America; but the congregation prefers the nickname “Cathedral of Hope.” The architect was Ralph Adams Cram, who could easily be called America’s greatest Gothic architect, and the Mellons gave him free rein and an unlimited budget. The result was Cram’s ultimate fantasy Gothic cathedral, whose massive central tower dominates the skyline of the neighborhood. To the left, in the distance, we see the Highland Building.

2 thoughts on “East Liberty Presbyterian Church

  1. The small spires on the central tower look almost like the ornaments on a South East Asian or Indian temple from a distance.

    1. Father Pitt replies: It would be fascinating to write a thesis on the aesthetic similarity between the Gothic style and certain architectural styles in South and Southeast Asia. Like the Asian styles, Gothic aims for (though it can never quite reach) a kind of infinite complexity: the whole is a harmonious composition, but at the same time there is more detail to admire no matter how small a section of it you examine.

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