Someone left one of those temporary storage modules in front of the building, which mars our otherwise architecturally perfect picture of the Fifth Avenue façade. There is only so much old Pa Pitt can do.
This Flemish Gothic palace, built in 1894, was designed by Edward Stotz, who would later give us Schenley High School. His son Charles Morse Stotz was more or less the founder of the preservation movement in Pittsburgh: he wrote the huge folio The Early Architecture of Western Pennsylvania, still an invaluable reference as well as a gorgeous book. It is fitting, therefore, that the father’s great landmarks have been among our preservation success stories.
The school was closed in 1976, and after that it sat vacant for more than three decades. A generation knew it only as that looming hulk Uptown. It is a tribute to the architect that it survived in fairly good shape. In 2009 it was finally brought back to life with a years-long restoration project that turned it into loft apartments, which sold well and suggested that there might be some potential in the Uptown neighborhood. (It certainly helped that the new arena—currently named for PPG Paints—opened at about the same time.)