About Father Pitt

By Canfield of the Sun.

To all his esteemed readers and correspondents, Father Pitt sends greetings. Out of his unbounded love for the city that bears his name, Father Pitt dedicates this publication to all lovers of beauty and liberty; and, in particular, to the citizens of Pittsburgh, that they may learn to love as he does the beauty that surrounds them and the liberty they enjoy.

“Father Pitt” or “old Pa Pitt” was the universal personification of Pittsburgh for all editorial cartoonists a century ago. The last cartoonist to draw him regularly was Cy Hungerford, who drew the cartoons for the Post-Gazette for fifty years from 1927 to 1977. Father Pitt was always depicted as a gentleman in eighteenth-century garb. For this site, Father Pitt has chosen the depiction by Canfield of the Sun.

Father Pitt has decided to release all his pictures into the public domain with a CC0 public-domain dedication. That means you can use them for any purpose without asking permission, but you can’t hold poor old Pa Pitt responsible for the results. It’s nice to credit “Father Pitt,” but it’s not required. Father Pitt would rather spend his time taking more pictures than trying to enforce copyrights, and he is delighted if the pictures he has already taken are useful.

The tag line “Why should the beautiful die?” comes from a song by Stephen Foster, Pittsburgh’s most famous songwriter: “Ah, May the Red Rose Live Alway.”

33 responses to “About Father Pitt”

  1. I have a group of friends who want to visit “The Ten Most Beautiful Catholic Churches in Pittsburgh” for Mass (I likely have seen the top ten UGLIEST Catholic Churches… Pittsburgh, as I understand it, is something of a “center” for this sort of thing) but I was wondering what your take was on the Top Ten list?



  2. Dear Sir:
    I am writing to ask permission to reprint two of the pictures on your blog. I am the volunteer editor of an antique car-club newsletter. The Antique Automobile Club of America is a non-profit organization dedicated to preserving the history of the automobile; we are its Gettysburg (Penna.) region. Our newsletter serves our Gettysburg Region.
    The pictures I refer to show wood-block pavement in Shadyside. I am planning an article on this type of pavement for our newsletter, as I came across an old textbook of highway engineering, circa 1914. I was really happy to learn that examples of this type of pavement still exist, and the two pictures you have taken show it very clearly.
    The pictures are good; but do you by any chance have the same pictures in higher resolution than those posted in your blog?
    This comment was the only way I could find to contact you. Thank you for your consideration.

    • Old Pa Pitt is always happy to discover that, even at his age (he just turned 250 last month), he can still be of use to honest citizens. He is glad to grant permission to reproduce items from his site to correspondents who ask for it. In many cases, high-resolution image files are available, and Father Pitt simply gives them away to nonprofit organizations. It’s his often-remarked generous nature.

  3. i was wondering if you know anything about a “court” of sorts in dan marino park in oakland… it seems to be for a game that everyone forgot how to play. do you know what the game is? it has a large cement bowl and a donut shaped thing on one side… its really hard to describe but if you’re in the area one day, please give it a look.


  4. Father Pitt,

    I’m a graduate student collecting images for my professor’s professional publication about livable cities. Could we use the image titled “Victorian street in Manchester.” It was posted on Jan. 23, 2008. If you are not able to grant copyright permission could you please advise me of whom I should speak with. Thank you very much for you assistance.


    • Old Pa Pitt (whose friend Dr. Boli does all his typing for him) is always happy to help anyone interested in the history of Pittsburgh.

      His general policy on reuse of his images is this:

      Any photograph on Father Pitt’s site may be used in any not-for-profit publication without prior permission. Please credit the photograph to Christopher Bailey, who is kind enough to allow Father Pitt the use of his images.

      Most commercial publications may obtain permission simply by asking for it. Higher-resolution files of many of the photographs are also available.

      To remove all ambiguity in this particular case, permission is granted to use the image in the article “Victorian street in Manchester” in your professor’s publication about livable cities.

  5. Hello

    I am writing to you as part of the team in the Scottish Government which runs the website http://www.Scotland.org.

    As part of our promotion of Robert Burns this month, we are in the process of compiling a map of the earth marked with all the places where Robert Burns statues stand. This animated map will be on our website mentioned above and will remain there indefinitely. We came across your photograph of the statue of Burns in
    Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and with your permission would love to use it on our map. We would of course be more than happy to credit it with your name.

    Please let me know if you would be content for the photo to be used on our website.

    Thanks and best wishes

    Amy Brennan

  6. Father Pitt,
    Great photos and editing on your site.
    We operate a healthy foods restaurant in Oakland, the Red Oak Cafe. We’re featuring oakland and downtown on two of our walls with walking maps, pictures and points of interest. Could we please use two of your images. yarn graffiti and the market square diamond?
    thank you,

  7. Hello Father Pitt…I’m trying to get some information on Eberhardt of Eberhardt & Ober Brewery. Do you know which home in Troy Hill that Eberhardt resided in? There is tons of information around on Ober, but not Eberhardt. Any insight would be helpful. Also, was he married, what was her name, are their pictures of her around? Thank you!!!

  8. Father Pitt, I am looking for permission to use your photos of the Highland Building. We are looking for photos prior to the the constrution/renovation so that we can place on walls, etc to see the then and now. IF you happen to have these in a high resolution that would be wonderful. thank you

      • Dr. Boli,
        What has happened to Father Pitt? I’ve been attempting to reach him regarding his photos. Do you have his contact information?
        Best Regards,

  9. Greetings!

    I am one of several interns with a company called GTECH Strategies. We are working on a research project in conjunction with the Buhl Foundation to map community assets in the 18 Northside Neighborhoods. The goal is to map assets and identify the interesting places, people, and character of these neighborhoods in order to eventually create trails that would connect these communities and unify the Northside.

    Reading through your blog, it seems that you have a lot of knowledge of Pittsburgh, especially about the history and character of places, which is something we are particularly interested in. If possible, we were wondering if one of us could talk with you more, either via email or in person, about some of the interesting places and history of the Northside that you might know of.

    You can contact us at onensaim@gmail.com if you are interested. I’ve included two websites that give you a better idea of what we are trying to do.



    Christine Kuhn
    GTECH Intern

  10. Father Pitt,
    Are you still taking photos of Pittsburgh cemeteries? If so, drop me a line. Love your many wonderful photos.

  11. All the downtown buildings and yet 416 7th Ave (Bell Telephone) is left out. The 1st section(A Bldg) was built in the late 1800s curved windows and all and three more sections added through out the years up to 1940 I believe. I have somewhere some old pictures with notes you’re welcome to use if you would like. I use to be one of the Building Mechanics there until the idiots kicked us out and replaced us with contractors. I enjoyed working there on the equipment and seeing the bones of the building on my rounds.

    Bob Swasey

  12. I would like to offer a correction concerning the Bigham House in Chatham Village. The construction of the house was completed in 1849, and it never was a farm house. Thomas James Bigham was a wealthy lawyer and a politician. His sons (Joel and Kirk) were also lawyers and were active in the construction and operation of the Monongahela and Duquesne Inclines. The house was built on property that his wife, Maria Louisa Lewis Bigham, inherited from her ancestor, Major Abraham Kirkpatrick. Major Kirkpatrick was a member of the Continental Army and purchased the property that became Mt. Washington from the descendants of William Penn that was split between Mrs. Bigham and her two sisters, Mrs. Shaler and Mrs. Cowan. The Major was brother-in-law to General Neville and they both upheld federal authority during the Whiskey Rebellion. The descendants of the Bighams sold the property to the Buhl Foundation in the late 1920s due to the burdensome taxes and the construction of Chatham Village began shortly thereafter.

  13. Father Pitt, please post regularly on Pittsburgh: Off the Beaten Path and Local Curiosities, on Facebook. We love your pictures and research!

  14. Thank you for the information on architect Frederick John Osterling. We lost contact with this branch of the family before the 1949 family genealogy was published. I didn’t even know they had Anglicized the surname.

    3 generations of the family emigrated from Hesse-Darmstadt (Germany) to Butler county in 1851 when Fred’s father was 14.

    It would be wonderful to include a print quality PDF of your articles on him in our family archive. Would you be willing to provide that? (Since this is something that might be seen generations down the line, it would be nice to include an author bio if that wouldn’t violate your privacy.)

    Thank you either way,
    Brian McCullough

  15. Hello! I stumbled across your website and have spent hours here! You are a wealth of information! I was trying to find out which Pittsburgh cemetery had the most old statuary such as angels and figures. I am a photographer traveling to the Pittsburgh area this weekend and after seeing your website, you are definitely the expert on the area’s cemeteries and the markers within them!

    Thank you for any suggestions that you may have on places to visit,

  16. Until I visited this site, at the urging of Dr. Boli, I had assumed that Father Pitt was one of the Good Doctor’s friendly neighborhood Catholic clerics.

  17. Hi Father Pitt,

    My name is Jacob Williams. I’m from Allentown Pennsylvania with a family history in Pittsburgh. I moved to this fascinating city in 2018 for school. Since then, I have recently graduated from the University of Pittsburgh with a degree in English. In the time I’ve spent in this city I have become enthralled by the amazing architecture and stories within. I recently found your blog and would like to aid your efforts in anyway possible.

  18. Dear Father Pitt – I just came across your story on my converted evangelical mckeesport church.. I had no idea.
    Thank you so much!
    Sadly I’m struggling with tax liens right now as I have not been able to find an investor for my other church in Pittsburgh Northside St Lukes.. (which you may remember being robbed of 21 windows.) It’s been a tough seven years let me tell you my friend. Watching these beautiful buildings being demolished and the city taking monies for demolition and creating alternative facts regarding is quite sickening to be completely honest. Sadly there is no support for the adaptive reuse of said buildings. As an environmentalist and political activist I find it all disturbing that 100’s Billions of dollars are given in tax exemptions and with dubious religious non profits to embolden white nationalism but no monies available to convert the 8000+ a year abandoned churches. It’s a sad reflection on America.



    FYI – TV segment on myself and the church post 1st robbery

  19. I have a set of playing cards which I believe are old that depicts a lot of Pittsburgh’s history. The joker is a picture of Father Pitt.. any value of this? Found them in a wooden box that looks like a book.

    • Father Pitt has no idea of the monetary value of the cards. It sounds as though the historical value is very high. And of course he is honored to take his proper place as the joker in the deck.

  20. In your fascinating Car Dealers page, Horst & Mooney may have been a Chev dealer more recently, but it was originally a Packard dealer. Pitt archives has a photo – just search Horst & Mooney.

    Meanwhile, I never would have imagined that the bldg at the intersection by Pep Boys that I used to struggle with was a Pierce dealership. I imagine that’s where Henry Hoffstot got his ’31 Pierce that now lives at Clayton.

  21. Hello!
    Love your stories. I was trying to find floor plans for Rose Court Condominiums in Mt. Lebanon and was wondering if you could please tell me the source of your information. Thank you very much and keep up the good work! Alex

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *