Tag: Abandoned

  • Homewood United Presbyterian Church

    Homewood United Presbyterian Church

    Most recently the Homewood Church of God, this building seems to be vacant right now; and although Homewood is prospering more than it has done in decades, it is not likely that this church can be saved. It was built in 1905, and renovated enough in 1961 to merit a new cornerstone.

    Entrance
    Tower
    Window over the entrance
    Idlewood Street side
    Homewood Avenue side
  • Theatre Bar and Mikell’s Barber Shop, McKeesport

    Theatre Bar and barber shop

    In some cities, when spring rolls around, people start to think about their gardens. In McKeesport, the headline is “Spring Demolition Projects Underway.” The story comes from the Tube City Almanac, one of the best local-news sites old Pa Pitt has ever seen, and a worthy successor to the lamented Daily News.

    The old Theatre Bar, with its splendid Art Deco ground floor and its eclectic museum of brickwork above, is not on the list to be demolished, but Mikell’s Barber Shop is. “Contrary to rumors, the building did not collapse, but it is being demolished by hand, slowly, to avoid damage to neighboring structures,” the Almanac reports, citing “A.J. Tedesco, city community development director.” If you ever wanted to know what “community development” looks like, here is a picture. The work is being done very slowly: the Almanac article was dated June 5, and this picture was taken three weeks later, but they show the building in the same state, including that pile of bricks coming through the window, which were, we presume, each carefully laid in place by hand, slowly, to avoid damaging neighboring structures.

    For many years, old Pa Pitt has admired the front of the Theatre Bar, but each time he was whizzing by on Walnut Street and did not stop to take a picture. This time, with the golden afternoon sun at the right angle, and the half-destroyed state of the building next door making him wonder how many more opportunities there might be before the bar was replaced by a vacant lot, he stopped.

    This will not be the last time Father Pitt praises the Tube City Almanac. It has been going for many years now, even longer than Father Pitt’s own site, beginning as a cheeky blog that covered the news the Daily News ignored, and gradually growing to a journalistic institution that employs real reporters and covers the news better than most local papers. It really is “Worthy of All Yohogania,” in the words of its longtime motto—a parody of the Tribune-Review’s “Worthy of Western Pennsylvania.” Its other motto, “More Than a Website—It’s a Community Instigation,” pays tribute to the Daily News, and we’ll talk about the Daily News soon.

  • Abandoned Houses Along Saw Mill Run

    Abandoned house from the 1880s

    We saw these houses a little while ago in pictures taken with a cheap cell-phone camera and in poor lighting. Since the houses will probably not be here forever, old Pa Pitt went back to document them in more even light with a more capable camera. These are the last remnants of a little village along Saw Mill Run, connected to the other side by the one-lane Timberland Avenue bridge. The one with the green siding above dates from the 1880s, the one below from the 1890s, according to the Pittsburgh Historic Maps site. Obviously they had substantial alterations during their lifetimes, but we can still recognize them in this picture from 1909 at the Brookline Connection site.

    1890s house
    Both houses
  • Art Deco Apartment Building, East Liberty

    Abandoned Art Deco apartment building

    Art Deco is not very common in Pittsburgh, although there were a few Art Deco apartment buildings in the East End. Here is one on Negley Avenue that probably will not be with us much longer; it looks as though it is scheduled to be replaced. It is a late Art Deco style; old Pa Pitt would guess it dates from the 1950s. Most of the building is just a modernist block, but the horizontal stripes give it more than average decorative flair, and the vertical forms of the entrance lift it into the realm of Art Deco.

    Front
  • Seventh Presbyterian Church, Hill

    Seventh Presbyterian Church

    Almost certainly nothing can be done to save this grand old Romanesque church on Herron Avenue in what used to be called Minersville. It has been abandoned too long and decayed too far to be revived except by some miraculously heroic effort, and miracles like that seldom happen on the Hill, where even the New Granada Theater has been languishing abandoned for decades. But enough remains of this church that we can at least admire the architecture of it before it comes down. It was built in 1894 as the Seventh Presbyterian Church (some online sources say First Presbyterian of Minersville, but it appears that the smaller frame building that formerly occupied this site was already called Seventh Presbyterian by 1890). By 1923 it was known as the Herron Avenue Presbyterian Church. It would later be bought by the John Wesley African Methodist Episcopal Church, which was founded in 1836, but by the 2000s that congregation apparently could no longer maintain the building. Water from mine runoff was a constant problem, according to the church’s long-out-of-date Wikipedia article.

    There are pictures of the vandalized interior various places on line if you look for them. Father Pitt follows his usual policy of not trespassing, so he brings you only a few pictures of the exterior, which is an interesting kind of Romanesque verging on Rundbogenstil—a word old Pa Pitt uses at every opportunity, because he likes to say it.

    Addendum: According to a city survey of historic buildings (spreadsheet), the architect was James N. Campbell.

    John Wesley A. M. A. Zion Church
    Front
    Ornament at the peak of the tower

    An iron ornament at the pinnacle of the main tower.

    With a tree
    From Wylie Avenue
  • Italianate House, Uptown

    This is a particularly grand rowhouse: note how much taller it is than its neighbor, indicating high ceilings. It seems to be abandoned right now, but perhaps it has a chance if the urban pioneers moving into the neighborhood get to it before it mysteriously catches fire. There is much worth preserving: the woodwork is in fairly good shape, and the windows—mostly unbroken—are still original and proper for the period. The location of the house on Fifth Avenue might make it attractive, but also might put it in the way if development mania reaches this part of the street.

  • Knoxville Christian Church

    Knoxville Christian Church

    Unlike its neighbor, the Knoxville Presbyterian Church, this little Gothic church has no one to cut down the weeds and the Pittsburgh palms. It is already half-swallowed by jungle, and it may soon be nothing more than a roughly cube-shaped lump of vegetation. Wouldn’t it make a fine studio for some ambitious artist?