Altar and Reredos in Heinz Chapel

Altar and reredos of Heinz Chapel

The elaborately carved reredos does its part to focus attention on the altar before it. The four wooden figures are Peter and John on the left, Paul and James the Greater on the right. The carving was done by the Irving & Casson—A. H. Davenport Co. of Boston

The Tallest Stained-Glass Windows in the World

Stained glass in Heinz Chapel

That is the claim made for the transept windows in Heinz Chapel, and old Pa Pitt accepts it until someone proves otherwise. They were created by the studio of Charles Z. Connick.

The windows trace Christian history down from Christ to American heroes like Abraham Lincoln, shown here freeing slaves with his Emancipation Proclamation.

Father Pitt’s very favorite detail in these windows is in the Lincoln pane. In fact it is one of his favorite details in any stained glass anywhere. You probably won’t even notice it as you look at the heroic figure of Lincoln, but here it is:

This scowling cartoon-villain plantation owner, furious that some Northern abolitionist scum has the temerity to interfere with his right to whip his own property, is the perfect background for Lincoln. One feels that the whole Civil War was worth the trouble just to make this man frown.

A Dim Religious Light

Interior of Heinz Chapel

But let my due feet never fail
To walk the studious cloister’s pale,
And love the high embowed roof,
With antique pillars massy proof,
And storied windows richly dight,
Casting a dim religious light.
There let the pealing organ blow,
To the full-voic’d quire below,
In service high, and anthems clear,
As may with sweetness, through mine ear,
Dissolve me into ecstasies,
And bring all Heav’n before mine eyes.

——Milton, Il Penseroso.

It is difficult to convey in a photograph the impression we get from entering a glorious Gothic church like Heinz Chapel. In general photographs are too light, either because the photographers laudably attempted to capture the many artistic details of the Gothic interior, or because they used automatic exposure and let their cameras do the thinking. Old Pa Pitt has tried very hard in these pictures to give some impression of the relative lighting as we enter the chapel from the bright light outside. Most of the light is dim, but a pool of light shines in the distance, drawing us toward the altar.

Toward the altar
Toward the rear

No matter how bright it may be outside, turning to leave the church is walking away from the light.

Young Men and Women’s Hebrew Association, Oakland

Young Men and Women’s Hebrew Association

If your club was prospering, you could have a clubhouse by Benno Janssen, Pittsburgh’s favorite club architect. Among the club buildings he designed that are still standing we may mention the Twentieth Century Club, the Keystone Athletic Club, the Pittsburgh Athletic Association, the Masonic Temple, and this one, a cultural and athletic center that was one of the ancestors of today’s Jewish Community Center. Like several of Janssen’s other club buildings, this one, built in 1924, takes the form of a Renaissance palace. The building now belongs to Pitt, of course, which calls it Bellefield Hall and still keeps up its splendid indoor swimming pool.


The university has glassed in the huge arch that forms the main entrance; old Pa Pitt has ruthlessly manipulated this picture to bring the inscription out from behind the glass.


Father Pitt imagines the sculptor, having worked months to intertwine the letters Y, M, W, and H in this artistic cartouche, proudly presenting his work to Mr. Janssen and being told, “You left out the A.”

With fountain in foreground

A view of the building from Heinz Chapel’s new formal garden across the street.

Working on the Roof of Heinz Chapel

Workers on the roof of Heinz Chapel

It’s easy to forget how tall Heinz Chapel is until we see people working on the roof.

Heinz Chapel with roof work