Tag: Black Stones

  • Second United Presbyterian Church, Highland Park

    Second United Presbyterian Church

    This church has an unusually eclectic history. It began as the Second United Presbyterian Church. Father Pitt does not know the original architect, but in 1915 there was a devastating fire, and a large reconstruction project was supervised by the architect John Louis Beatty. In 1933 the Presbyterians moved out, and this became the East End Baptist Church. Now it is the Union Project (an arts venue) and the meeting-place of the Jonah’s Call Anglican congregation.

    About two and a half years ago, old Pa Pitt published some pictures of this church, but something seemed different about it. It took a moment to realize: the decorative details on the tower have been cleaned. Back in 2021, all the stone had been cleaned except for the very top of the tower:

    Tower with soot still on it

    But now the tower is clean to its very tip:

    Top of the tower cleaned
    Second U. P. Church
    Union Project
    Main entrance
    Main entrance again
    Gothic arch
    Pinnacle
    Black pinnacle

    This little pinnacle is still the color the whole church used to be.

    East End Baptist Church

    Map showing the location of the church.

  • Greater Allen African Methodist Episcopal Church, Brighton Heights

    California Avenue side of the Greater Allen African Methodist Episcopal Church

    This church has a complicated history that perhaps someone from Brighton Heights could help old Pa Pitt sort out. It was built in 1907 as a Congregational church, replacing an earlier frame building. By 1923 it was the Eleventh United Presbyterian Church. Now it belongs to the Greater Allen African Methodist Episcopal congregation, which has kept it in beautifully original shape, right down to the uncleaned black stones, which Father Pitt loves.

    Cornerstone with A. D. 1907 inscribed
    Davis Avenue side
    Davis Avenue side straight on
    Rear of the church
  • Church of the Epiphany, Bellevue/Avalon

    Church of the Epiphany

    This church sits right across the line from Bellevue in Avalon, but it is often listed as the Church of the Epiphany of Bellevue. It was built in 1912–1913, and the architects were Vrydaugh and Wolfe, who also designed Warwick House and (as Vrydaugh and Shepherd with T. B. Wolfe) Calvary Methodist in Allegheny West. This is one of our increasingly rare black-stone churches; every stone church in Pittsburgh used to look like this.

    California Avenue front
    Sign

    Though it is no longer active as a church, everything but the sign seems well kept and loved.

    Home Avenue side

    Addendum: Just this month (August 2023), this building was awarded a plaque by the Pittsburgh History and Landmarks Foundation.

  • A Black Stone Survivor: First Methodist, Knoxville

    Solid Rock Church

    Few of these black stone buildings are left, but in some of the less prosperous neighborhoods we can still find uncleaned stones. Knoxville is a particularly interesting neighborhood from the point of view of the urban archaeologist: it was prosperous and now is not, so it retains some splendid buildings in their original state, many of them sadly abandoned and decaying. This church, marked “1st Meth. Prot. Ch.” on a 1916 map, is still in use as a nondenominational church, and old Pa Pitt very selfishly hopes that the congregation always sits at that middle point where it has enough money to keep the doors open and not enough to clean the black stones.

    First Methodist Protestant Church
    First Methodist, Knoxville
  • Sixth Presbyterian Church, Squirrel Hill, in 1994

    Sixth Presbyterian

    One of the many black stone buildings that still remained in Pittsburgh in the 1990s. Like almost all the others, Sixth Presbyterian has since been cleaned and restored to its original color.

    Father Pitt has always wondered why the Presbyterians kept numbering their churches. “First Presbyterian” is an honorable distinction. “Fifth Presbyterian” just sounds tired. And then why stop at six? There is a Seventh Presbyterian in Cincinnati, for example.

  • Hillside House in Schenley Farms, Cleaned

    Hillside house in Schenley Farms

    This house in Schenley Farms has had a thorough cleaning and looks just built. It has also lost a large and perhaps obstructive tree. Compare the picture above to the one below, which Father Pitt took in 2014:

    Addendum: This house, known as “Ledge House,” was designed by Henry Hornbostel. It was the home of Arthur Hamerschlag, for whom Hamerschlag Hall was named.