Category: Etna

  • Calvert Memorial Presbyterian Church, Etna

    Calvert Memorial Presbyterian Church

    This beautiful little Romanesque church is one of our few remaining black stone churches; some day the stones may be cleaned, and the church will lose some of its character. It was built in the early 1900s—the land was purchased in 1906—and it has remained more or less the same since then, as we can see from an old postcard view.

    Old postcard of First U. P. Church, Etna
    Modern view

    The church was originally the First United Presbyterian Church of Etna; in 1918 it was renamed after the beloved founding pastor. A lush growth of utility cables mars this view, but the picture demonstrates a curious property of the tower: it has the ability to look taller or shorter than the main roof, depending on the angle of view.

    Composite view
    From the side

    The steeply pitched roof and tiny triangular dormers remind us more than a little of H. H. Richardson’s Emmanuel Episcopal Church in Allegheny West:

    Emmanuel Episcopal Church

    We can be fairly sure the resemblance was intentional, since Richardson was still, twenty years after his death, by far the most famous architect in the Romanesque idiom. Note the buttresses on the Etna church, which Emmanuel lacks. That may also be a lesson learned from Richardson: the bulging walls of his Emmanuel Episcopal were not intended.

    Calvert Memorial Presbyterian Church
  • All Saints’ Church, Etna

    All Saints’ Church, Etna, Pennsylvania

    John T. Comès was probably Pittsburgh’s most prolific architect of Catholic churches—a record made all the more remarkable by the fact that he died at the age of 49. His favorite style was Romanesque, and in the out-of-the-way back streets of Etna we find this masterpiece, built in 1914, that shows him at the peak of his creative power. It has all of Comès’ quirks. Unlike many other American architects who worked in the Romanesque style, he enthusiastically embraced the almost gaudy polychrome stripes and patterns typical of medieval Romanesque masterpieces. The bells in their cutout arches also seem like a thoroughly Comès detail.

    Front of the church

    With the light from the wrong angle, this composite picture of the front was about the best old Pa Pitt could do.

    Here is a map showing the location of the church.

  • “Graswick,” Etna

    This house has a sign in front identifying it as “Graswick” and telling us that it was built in 1873. This spares old Pa Pitt a lot of research, and he suggests that all owners of historic houses should imitate the owners of this one. It is perched on the side of a steep hill, and it has a magnificent view straight down High Street to the town and the Pine Creek valley below.

  • Pine Creek, Etna

    Pine Creek, which in many parts of the world would be called a river, glimmers in the late-afternoon sun. This little paradise of woods and water is in the middle of the crowded borough of Etna, but it’s easy to forget the city as you listen to the burbling rapids.