Here is another small bank that gets the architectural message exactly right, as we said a few days ago about the Carnegie National Bank. How could your money not be safe in a bank that looks like this? Imagine, too, how bright and cheerful the banking hall must have been before those tall windows along the side were filled in.
Winged chimeras guard the cartouche at the top of the great front arch.
In many neighborhoods this would be the most distinguished building, but of course Homewood has Holy Rosary Church. Nevertheless, this is an important building in its own right. It was built in 1904 as St. James Episcopal Church, but in 1953 it was bought by a Black Episcopalian congregation, which obviously showers love on this building. It was designed by Carpenter & Crocker, and the grandson of William James Carpenter gives us the story of the church on a site dedicated to his grandfather’s work. You can also read the story of the congregation from the church’s own site (the link goes to a page where you can download a PDF file).
This is the neighborhood library every neighborhood dreams of. It was designed by Alden & Harlow (according to Wikipedia, Howard K. Jones, who worked for the firm, may have been principally responsible for this library), and it is the most palatial of their branch libraries in the city. Most of the others are classical, but this is institutional Gothic. Restored to its original splendor, it is kept immaculately beautiful, and it seems to be busy. Old Pa Pitt promised the librarian he would not capture any patrons in the interior shots—which necessitated some patience, because people would keep walking in front of the woodwork.
Ralph Adams Cram was probably the greatest Gothic architect our country ever produced. There are three churches by Cram in Pittsburgh (and one in Greensburg), and each is a masterpiece in its way. East Liberty Presbyterian is overwhelmingly impressive. Calvary Episcopal is restrained and tasteful, a good fit for its low-church Episcopalian congregation. But Holy Rosary seems to be a product of the artist’s pure delight in his medium. It was finished in 1930, when Cram was at the peak of his creative powers.
The church is still in good shape, but it is no longer a worship site, and what can be done with a building this size? The offices of St. Charles Lwanga parish are here, but it is only a matter of time before someone decides that it would be more efficient to have an office building that is less expensive to maintain. Homewood is prospering much more than it was a few years ago, but it has a long way to go before it becomes a rich enough neighborhood to make it worth adapting this building; and any congregation looking for a church would have to have a high budget to maintain this one. (St. Charles Lwanga parish worships a few blocks away in the small and undistinguished, but much easier to maintain, Mother of Good Counsel church.)
We hope Holy Rosary will be preserved and restored, but it competes with many other churches and synagogues worthy of preservation and restoration. It is hard to find uses for a building so perfectly adapted to one specific purpose for which it is no longer wanted.
All the niches have lost their statues, which suggests that the parish took them down and reinstalled them elsewhere. Do any St. Charles Lwanga parishioners know the story?