Tag: Corner Towers

  • 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
    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.

  • Old Church in Aspinwall

    Old church, perspective view

    This old Lutheran church1 is no longer a church, but the exterior has been preserved very well. It is an unusual style for a small church, much like a Queen Anne house with a corner tower. The woodwork in the front gable is especially ornate.

    Decorative woodwork in the gable
    1. It appears on a 1906 Hopkins map as “Evan’l Luth. Ch.” ↩︎
  • 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.

    Window over the entrance
    Idlewood Street side
    Homewood Avenue side
  • 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
  • Calvary Christian Church, Marshall-Shadeland

    Calvary Christian Church, Marshall-Shadeland

    Chauncey W. Hodgdon had been practicing architecture for well over four decades when he designed this little church. It was built in about 1924,1 and this is Hodgdon on a small budget. He minimized expensive indulgences like stone trim and large windows, while still giving the congregation the respectable Gothic church it dreamed of. Now the building belongs to New Hope Church, which is keeping it in very good shape.

    New Hope Church
    1. Source: The American Contractor, August 11, 1923: “Church: Shadland [sic] av. & Dickson st. Archt. Chauncey W. Hodgdon, Martin bldg. Owner The Calvary Christ. Church. Rev. F. Fink, 3426 Cass st. Brk. & Stone. Archt. taking bids on super. to close Aug. 20.” ↩︎
  • Emanuel Evangelical Church, Elliott

    Emanuel Evangelical Church

    If you were on a budget of only $20,000, which was fairly modest for a church, you could still get yourselves some distinguished architects to make the most of your money. Vrydaugh & Wolfe designed some huge millionaires’ mansions and a number of glorious stone churches, but they put their usual care into this little project as well, using inexpensive materials to the best effect.1 It was built as Emanuel Evangelical Church; later it became Emanuel United Methodist Church, and now it is New Destiny Christian Methodist Episcopal Church.

    Corner view
    Lorenz Street façade
    Rear corner

    A small addition filled in one corner at some time when the church was a United Methodist congregation.


    The attached parsonage is small but in perfect taste, neither too ostentatious nor unduly plain.

    1. The budget may have ended up being less than $20,000. As originally conceived, it would have been a stone-veneer building; perhaps the bricks were a later decision to shave some money off the cost. From the Construction Record, February 3, 1912: “Plans are being prepared by Architect Vrydaugh & Wolf, 347 Fifth avenue, for a one-story stone veneer church building for the Emanuel Evangelical Congregation, Crucible and Lorenza [sic] avenues. The building will be 85×100 feet and will cost $20,000.” ↩︎
  • Bellevue Christian Church

    Bellevue Christian Church

    Here is a little Arts-and-Crafts Romanesque church that had money at the wrong time. The modern addition (probably 1960s or early 1970s) is not sympathetic to the church behind it. The elaborate modernist window in the front probably replaced an earlier decorative window; perhaps the church had a fire. If a member of the congregation has any information, old Pa Pitt would be grateful for it.

    Bellevue Christian Church

  • Homestead Methodist Episcopal Church

    Built in 1911, this church served the Methodists until 1995. It is now home to the Lamb of God Church. This is a dated design for 1911; it would be interesting to know who the architect was, or whether the design was picked out of a book of stock patterns published ten or fifteen years before.

    Here, by the way, is an example of how one develops an instinct for church architecture. Father Pitt did not know what congregation originally built this church, and how would one easily find out without some research? (One might have done the research, but it is always better to spare oneself trouble if one can.) The answer is by guess. “It looks Methodist,” Father Pitt thought to himself; and, with that clue, finding the information was easy.

  • First Reformed Church, McKeesport

    First Reformed Church

    It is cheering to report that this impressive little Gothic church, once an abandoned hulk, has now been stabilized and put to use, apparently as a private home. Some of the stained glass was smashed while it was abandoned, but the remainder has been kept in place and covered with clear glass to seal up the holes. Since it sits in a prominent spot diagonally across from the Carnegie Free Library of McKeesport, it improves the neighborhood quite a bit to have this building occupied.


    The cornerstone bears a date of 1903.

    The outsized tower and shadowy inset corner porch are distinctive features.

    Corner view
  • Knoxville Presbyterian Church

    Knoxville Presbyterian Church

    The outstanding feature of this church is its outsized corner tower; the architect has cleverly emphasized its height with strong vertical lines. Corner towers are common in churches on corner lots, but seldom do they reach these proportions.


    There are also smaller towers at three of the other four corners of the building, and a matching Sunday-school wing is attached.

    Rear of the church

    This is one of several abandoned churches in Knoxville, but at least somebody mows the lawn and sweeps away the trash. Note the steep slope that makes two floors’ difference between the front of the lot and the back of the lot.

    Knoxville Presbyterian Church