If you are not a frequent visitor to Allegheny Cemetery, you might pass the Penn Avenue gatehouse and wonder whether your memory is playing tricks on you. Isn’t there something…different about it?
Your memory is not playing tricks on you. Here is a picture from 2021:
What old Pa Pitt was told was that engineers had determined that the tower was dangerously unstable. The stones were carefully taken apart and labeled, and maybe someday the tower will be restored.
Louis Knoepp monument, St. Paul’s Lutheran Cemetery, Mount Oliver.
In honor of All Hallows’ Eve, a few pictures from Father Pitt’s recent expeditions to cemeteries. Many more similar pictures can be found at Pittsburgh Cemeteries, the site devoted to the art and architecture of death.
Receiving vault (now the Columbarium), Union Dale Cemetery.
Hemphill mausoleum, Homewood Cemetery.
Rook monument, Allegheny Cemetery.
Rudel obelisk, St. Paul’s Lutheran Cemetery, Mount Oliver.
Aull-Martin monument, Homewood Cemetery.
Fall Landscape, St. Paul’s Lutheran Cemetery, Mount Oliver.
The Homewood Cemetery was planted as an arboretum, so it is one of the best places in Pittsburgh to see a wide variety of trees in a wide variety of colors.
This article on the Daniel O’Neill monument appears at Father Pitt’s Pittsburgh Cemeteries, but he thought his regular readers here might also enjoy seeing the portrait of an important figure in Pittsburgh’s literary history.
An editor’s work is never done. Here is Daniel O’Neill, owner and editor of the Dispatch, still at work 145 years after his death in 1877. Though he died at the young age of 47, he had already built the Dispatch into Pittsburgh’s most respected newspaper, a position it held until the great newspaper massacre of the early 1920s, when paper shortages and rising costs forced hundreds or thousands of papers across the country out of business. Before that there had been at least a dozen English dailies in Pittsburgh, not to mention three in German and several in other languages.
The monument itself is a harmoniously eclectic mix of styles in the Victorian manner: classical elements dominate, but Mr. O’Neill’s desk rests on an Egyptian pedestal.
This building was dedicated in 1915, but its congregation was organized in 1831—and really dates from before that, since local members had been meeting before the Presbytery recognized them as a church. This was a country church that was engulfed by city in the early 1900s; in its old country churchyard are the graves of a number of early settlers and the third mayor of Pittsburgh.
Addendum: The architect of the church was George Schwan. From the Construction Record for October 11, 1913: “Architect George Schwan, Peoples Bank building, is working on plans for the proposed church building, for the Concord Presbyterian Congregation, Carrick. The building will be one-story, either brick or stone, and cover an area of 72×90 feet. Cost $35,000.”
A tree seldom gets a good chance to spread out and be itself this way, but this splendid oak has been allowed to dominate the old St. Clair Cemetery, a burying-ground in Mount Lebanon where many of the early settlers of the South Hills are buried.
Since most of the world is going for silly deviltry, old Pa Pitt decided to be a bit contrarian and put together a collection of angels. All these and many more angels can be found at Father Pitt’s Pittsburgh Cemeteries site.
Father Pitt has always had mixed feelings about HDR (“high-dynamic-range”) images. They are made from multiple exposures—this one, for example, is put together from three photographs—in an attempt to capture the detail in both the highlights and the shadows. On the one hand, they always strike him as artificial-looking; on the other, HDR imaging was the only effective way to capture both the stonework and the lowering clouds in this picture. If you look closely, you will notice an artifact of the process: it was a windy day, so the stones are sharp but the trees are blurred.
This is the Penn Avenue gatehouse of Allegheny Cemetery, seen from inside the cemetery. Old Pa Pitt returned two days later to try another HDR image, and this time—with some tweaking of software settings—he managed a more natural-looking result:
If he were at all concerned with his reputation as an artist, he would have led with this picture. But he thought you might enjoy seeing a first attempt and the refinement that followed, in that order.
If you are looking for some atmospheric fun for Halloween, Father Pitt’s Pittsburgh Cemeteries is full of interesting pictures and information.