Category: Dormont

  • Mount Lebanon Baptist Church, Dormont

    Mount Lebanon Baptist Church

    When Dormont was founded in 1909, its founders wanted to call it “Mount Lebanon,” the historical name of that part of the South Hills. There was some friction, however, with residents to the south of the new borough, who of course later adopted that name themselves. The result was that borough founders picked the nonsensical inside-out-French name “Dormont,” which as far as old Pa Pitt knows is unique in the world. Several institutions in Dormont, however, kept the name “Mount Lebanon,” among them two churches. This one closed in 2013, the same year Dormont’s Presbyterians and Methodists threw in the towel. The building, however, has been kept in good shape. Built in 1930, it is a fine example of the streamlined Gothic influenced by Art Deco that was popular in the 1920s and 1930s.

    Tower and spire
    Tower decoration
    Vine decorations

    Vine decorations under the entrance arches.

    Ornamental capital

    The sign along West Liberty Avenue matched the stone and style of the building.

    Mount Lebanon Baptist Church
  • South Hills Branch Post Office, Dormont

    South Hills Branch Post Office

    As far as the Post Office is concerned, Dormont is “Pittsburgh,” as is everything with a 152– ZIP code. This dignified post office is typical of many branches built in the Franklin Roosevelt era. The bronze lanterns are especially fine.


    The cornerstone lists the supervising architect, the supervising engineer, and the architect. Louis A. Simon was responsible for many federal projects; he created standard plans that would then be adapted by other architects to the individual situation. Carroll H. Pratt seems to have been a New York architect who, aside from Rooseveltian post offices like this one, designed homes for the wealthy.

    Now here is a little bit of Pittsburgh lore too arcane for most Pittsburghers, but not for old Pa Pitt. Before there were ZIP codes, there were postal codes in big cities that referred to the individual postal station. A letter going to the South Hills in Pittsburgh, for example, would be addressed to Pittsburgh 16. When ZIP codes were assigned, the old Pittsburgh postal codes were retained as the last two digits, so that Pittsburgh 16 became ZIP code 15216.

    Those old postal codes were in alphabetical order, so the original ZIP codes for Pittsburgh are also in alphabetical order. Of course you have to know the names of the branch post offices to decipher the order. For example, Lawrenceville was Pittsburgh 1 (now 15201), because it is Arsenal station to the post office. The South Side was Pittsburgh 3 (15203), because it is Carson station. Pittsburgh 21, Wilkinsburg, was the last in the series; ZIP codes 15222 and above are later creations.

  • Apartment Building on Broadway, Dormont

    Old Pa Pitt’s fascination with small apartment buildings is hard to explain, except that—as he has mentioned before—they often gave lesser architects a chance to execute unusual ideas. This building is made of very simple elements, but arranged in an unusual rhythm, the balconies forming strong verticals that are accented by brick projections at the roofline.

  • Ruth Apartments, Dormont

    Apartment building in Dormont

    A small apartment building along the Red Line in Dormont, with some of the Spanish Mission details that were very popular in Dormont a century ago. It was also popular to give small apartment buildings women’s names; across the street are two very similar buildings named Thea and Esther.

  • Bethany Evangelical Lutheran Church, Dormont

    Bethany Lutheran

    Built in 1924, this church seems typical of the slightly modernist Gothic of the period: the pointed arches and the stonework are still there, but the details are spare, and the forms are relatively simple.

    Bethany Evangelical Lutheran Church
  • Dormont Junction

    Dormont Junction

    Dormont Junction ceased to be a junction in the 1960s, but the Pittsburgh trolley system is crusty with tradition, and the name has never been changed—in spite of occasional attempts by the Port Authority to call the station “Dormont.” The current station was designed in the 1980s, and like most of the stations put up then it is utilitarian to the point of ugliness. Above, two Red Line cars pass; below, a closer view, showing the 1980s-vintage T-in-a-circle sign at the entrance.

    Dormont Junction

    Dormont Junction is at the north end of the Mount Lebanon subway tunnel, which is never called a “subway” by real Pittsburghers, to whom “subway” means the section of four underground stations, one ground-level station, and two elevated stations from Station Square to Allegheny.

    Tunnel entrance
  • Hillsdale School, Dormont

    Hillsdale School

    Frederick Osterling designed this school for the mushrooming borough in 1912. The building itself grew rapidly, with additions in 1914, 1916, and 1918, all in a matching style. According to the book Dormont by the Dormont Historical Society (one of the Images of America series by Arcadia Publishing), at some point in the second half of the twentieth century, high winds destroyed the original roof, and the building was given an up-to-date flat roof and a new front entrance with this fine late-Art-Deco sign.


    In 1996, the school closed, and in 1999 the borough government moved in, so that this is now the William & Muriel Moreland Dormont Municipal Center. The Dormont Historical Society has a small museum here, open one day a week.

  • Mount Lebanon United Methodist Church

    Mount Lebanon United Methodist Church

    One of three fine Gothic churches in a row, this one is actually in Dormont—but not by much. The Mount Lebanon border runs down Scott Road to the right of the building, then jogs behind the building to take in the St. Clair Cemetery.

  • Dormont Presbyterian Church

    Dormont Presbyterian Church

    Dormont Presbyterian Church (now North Way Community Church) in winter sunlight.

  • Potomac Avenue, Dormont

    Potomac Avenue

    One of the most pleasant shopping streets in the South Hills, Potomac Avenue has a remarkable variety of things to do in a short space. There are coffeehouses, restaurants, an undivided neighborhood movie palace still showing movies, a wine shop, a bakery, a bookstore, a large and well-stocked Turkish-Russian grocery, an oriental-rug dealer, and a streetcar stop on the Red Line (Potomac) that makes it all accessible.

    The old Dormont Presbyterian Church (now North Way Christian Community) dominates the street in just the right way.