Tag: American Fascist

  • Rear of the Federal Building

    Rear of the Federal Courthouse
    Fujifilm FinePix HS10.

    A look behind the Post Office and Courts building, now the Joseph F. Weis U. S. Courthouse, shows how the building (originally designed by Trowbridge & Livingston, who also designed the Gulf Building across the street) was expanded in the early 2000s by filling in the light courts with surprisingly unobtrusive glass additions.

  • Decorations on the County Office Building

    Eagle and county arms

    The County Office Building, which opened in 1931, was designed by Stanley L. Roush, who was the king of public works in Allegheny County for a while. Its combination of styles is unique in Pittsburgh, as far as old Pa Pitt knows. In form it is of the school Father Pitt likes to call American Fascist, the weighty classical style filtered through streamlined Art Deco that was popular for American public buildings between the World Wars, and of which the grandest example in Pittsburgh is the federal courthouse. But the details are Romanesque rather than classical—an acknowledgment of the lingering influence of the great Richardson’s greatest masterpiece, the Allegheny County Courthouse. The carved ornaments are Art Deco adaptations of medieval themes, except for the eagle above, which is not at all medieval, and which clasps the arms of Allegheny County in its talons.

    County Office Building

    The Fourth Avenue side. The County Office Building is roughly square, so the four sides are similar, except that this side lacks an entrance. But this was the side that was lit by the sun when Father Pitt was taking pictures. It took a lot of fiddling and adaptation to get the whole side of the building across a tiny narrow street, so you will see stitching errors and other anomalies if you enlarge the picture.


    An Art Deco gargoyle.

    Decorative relief
    Fujifilm FinePix HS10.
  • U. S. Post Office Entrance

    Shield with eagle

    The Post Office and Courthouse (now called the Joseph F. Weis, Jr. U.S. Courthouse) is Pittsburgh’s grandest monument of the style old Pa Pitt calls “American Fascist.” The post office was on the Seventh Avenue side; it has moved to Liberty Center, but the inscriptions are still here. The building was put up under Secretary of the Treasury Andrew W. Mellon, of whom it was often said that three presidents served under him. The architects were Trowbridge & Livingston, who also worked on some of Mellon’s private projects, like the Gulf Building across the street.

    Post office entrance
    Bronze and marble
  • Engine Company 10, West End

    Engine Company 10

    When classical architecture meets Art Deco in a government building, they form a style old Pa Pitt likes to call American Fascist. He calls it that because it’s similar to the streamlined classicism favored by Mussolini and Hitler, and because its favorite ornament is the fasces, as we see right at the top of the façade of this firehouse, which is now a police station. For some reason the fasces declined in popularity as an ornament on American government buildings after the Second World War.

  • Federal Reserve Bank Building

    Three of our greatest Art Deco buildings are lined up in a row on Grant Street: the Koppers Tower, the Gulf Tower, and this magnificent deco-fascist composition by the Cleveland architects Walker and Weeks. This image is put together from six separate photographs, so it is huge if you click on it; there are some small stitching errors, but overall it looks very much like the architects’ original rendering.

  • Federal Deco

    The Federal Reserve Bank on Grant Street is actually one of our purest Art Deco buildings. It’s a Moderne interpretation of the style old Pa Pitt likes to call American Fascist.

  • Federal Building


    In 1931 Andrew W. Mellon had been Secretary of the Treasury for ten years. He was one of the most powerful men in the world; they used to say that three presidents had served under him. This building was his gift to his native city, a reminder of his almost imperial power, and a perfect example of the architectural style Father Pitt likes to call American Fascist.

    The word “fascist” comes from fasces, an ancient Roman symbol of authority. The fasces are a bundle of twigs with an axe in the middle. And here they are, right over the entrance, making this perhaps the only literally fascist building in Pittsburgh. [Update: This is far from true; once he started to look for them, old Pa Pitt found that fasces were quite common on government buildings before the Second World War.]


    The Federal Building is a block and a half north on Grant Street from the Steel Plaza subway station.

  • Deco Romanesque

    Click on the picture to enlarge it.

    The County Office Building is a curious combination of Romanesque and late Art Deco, with more than a hint of the style Father Pitt likes to call American Fascist. Below, an eagle ornament on the corner holds the Allegheny County arms in its talons. On the arms: a ship, a plough, and three sheaves of grain (though they look like mushrooms in concrete).


    The County Office Building is a short walk away from the First Avenue subway station.