Category: Sharpsburg

  • Sharpsburg Public School

    Sharpsburg Public School

    Here is a hint for institutions finding themselves in possession of distinguished historic buildings that are crumbling a bit at the cornice: when the low-bidding contractor says, “Sure, I can fix that…”

    Perspective view of the building

    …see what the second-lowest-bidding contractor has to offer.

    One end of the building

    The building is still in use as a school, now for special education. We note that it has been modified to suit the modern discovery that natural light poisons children’s blood.

    Blocked entrance
    Ionic capital
  • Forsaith Block (and Neighbor), Sharpsburg

    Forsaith Block

    The ground floor of this building has been turned into a garage, but without losing too much of the character of the façade. The date stone tells us that the building was put up in 1889.

    Date stone reading “Forsaith Block, built A. D. 1889”

    Probably a little later, but not too much later, a building went up to the left of this one, perhaps for the same owners.

    1103–1109 Main Street

    This building appears on a 1906 map, which gives us a latest possible date. The style is somewhat different—we might call it Allegheny Valley Rundbogenstil—but the two buildings share some decorative details: the treatment of the cornice is the same, and the same flower-and-foliage ornaments (they look like a jonquil between acanthus leaves) are used on both buildings.

    Jonquil between acanthus leaves
    Round windows
  • Victorian Commercial Building in Sharpsburg

    A well-preserved specimen of Victorian architecture on Main Street in Sharpsburg. The windows have been altered, but the storefront with its inset entrance is intact, and the decorative details of the upper floors have been kept—except for what was probably art glass in the attic.

  • Two Hotels in Sharpsburg

    Lafayette Hotel

    Sharpsburg has a paucity of street names and has to double up on many of them. At the western end of the borough, Main Street splits into two Main Streets. On South Main Street we find two similar hotels from the 1890s, both in the kind of German classical-Romanesque hybrid style that old Pa Pitt has learned to call Rundbogenstil. “Hotel” meant “neighborhood bar with rooms for rent”; such hotels popped up in neighborhoods everywhere in our area, because it was much easier to get a liquor license for a hotel than for a bar.

    First, the Lafayette Hotel (probably not its original name), which not only still has a lively and beloved bar on the ground floor, but even still has rooms for rent.

    96 on the date stone

    The date stone: built in 1896.

    H in a decoration

    This probably tells us the initial of the original name of the hotel.

    Stained glass

    An oval stained-glass window.

    A block away, we have the Sharpsburger Hotel, now apartments.

    Sharpsburger hotel
    1893 on the date stone

    Built in 1893.

    Fourth St. street sign on the side of the building

    A bit of Romanesque carved foliage and a street sign that probably dates from the 1890s. Old Pa Pitt is collecting old street signs on the sides of buildings, by the way, which was the usual place for them in the 1800s. Both these hotels retain their corner signs.

    Sharpsburger Hotel
  • Sharpsburg

    With the approach ramps to the 62nd Street Bridge in the foreground.

  • First English Evangelical Lutheran Church, Sharpsburg

    First English Lutheran

    It is sad to report that the last Lutheran congregation in Sharpsburg has thrown in the towel. (There were once three Lutheran churches: this English one and two German ones.) The good news, however, is that Sharpsburg is becoming a trendier neighborhood, and it will be worth adapting this distinctive building to some other use. It is a sort of Jacobean Gothic with more than a whiff of Art Nouveau.

    First English Lutheran Church, Sharpsburg
  • No. 1 Firehouse, Sharpsburg


    An old firehouse converted to a commercial building on Main Street in Sharpsburg. It still has its bell.

    No. 1 Firehouse
    No. 1 Firehouse, Sharpsburg
    Sharpsburg reflected

    Sharpsburg, including St. Mary’s Church, reflected in the windows.

  • St. Joseph’s Church, Sharpsburg

    St. Joseph’s Church, Sharpsburg

    Father Pitt featured one picture of this church a couple of months ago, but he returned to get a few better pictures, including the composite one above, which took some effort. We repeat the information from the earlier article:

    Now Madonna of Jerusalem Church of Christ the King Parish, which also includes the St. Joseph Church that once lived in this building but handed it over to Madonna of Jerusalem in 1960. This building was finished in 1874, but it was built around an earlier school from 1869. It is a typical nineteenth-century Pittsburgh Gothic church, with the buttresses and crenellations we expect from the style.

    Madonna of Jerusalem Church
    St. Joseph’s
  • Fort Pitt Brewery, Sharpsburg

    Inscription: Fort Pitt Brewing Co.
    Fort Pitt Brewery

    Fort Pitt was the biggest beer brand in Pennsylvania in 1952. Then there was a big brewery strike, which affected the big three in Pittsburgh—Fort Pitt, Duquesne, and Iron City. When the strike ended, Fort Pitt rushed to be the first back on the market by shipping the past-its-prime beer that had been sitting around in its warehouse. Drinkers could tell. People with functioning olfactory senses in the vicinity of the drinkers could tell. The famous slogan “Fort Pitt—That’s It” was passed around with a slurred sibilant, and the brand declined precipitously.

    Slogan: Fort Pitt—That’s It

    Pittsburghers of an older generation still have this slogan on their lips, using it to mean “I’m done with this.”

    As you can see, the brewery still stands in Sharpsburg. Much of it has been turned into apartments; one of the buildings now houses the Hitchhiker Brewing Co.

    Hitchhiker Brewing Co.

    The office is a fine example of late Art Deco.


    The Blockhouse was an obvious choice for an emblem.

    Composite view
  • St. Mary’s Church, Sharpsburg

    St. Mary’s in Sharpsburg

    Detroit architect Peter Dederichs gave us this gorgeous Renaissance basilica, which is crammed into an absurdly tiny space at the foot of the bluff in Sharpsburg. The exterior hasn’t changed in any significant way since the building went up in 1916, as we can see in a cover story in Stone magazine from February of 1919. In that story we learn that the stone was Dark Hollow Gray Bedford limestone from Indiana, and it has stood up perfectly to more than a century of Pittsburgh atmosphere.

    Front of St. Mary’s Church, Sharpsburg
    Date stone

    The foundation of the congregation.

    Date stone

    The building of the church.


    Capitals of the Corinthian order.

    Rear of the church

    The apse, and an especially lush growth of utility cables.

    View of St. Mary’s from Penn Street

    Looking toward the church on Penn Street.

    St. Mary’s Church, Sharpsburg