Tag: Gothic Architecture

  • First United Presbyterian Church, Coraopolis

    First United Presbyterian Church

    This is a fine building in a good neighborhood, and you could buy it right now and move in. You might have to spend another million or so fixing it up, but the structure is sound and the interior of the sanctuary, from what we can see on that real-estate site, is intact in the most important details. It does need work, but the best parts of the interior are still there. If you are a congregation looking for a sanctuary, you can put your teenage members to work. That’s why you have youth groups, after all.

    The church was built in 1915; the architect was Thomas Hannah, a big deal in Pittsburgh architecture. Comparing the church today to an old postcard, we can see that nothing has changed on the outside.

    Old postcard of First United Presbyterian in Coraopolis

    Well, one thing has changed. The church accumulated decades of industrial grime, turning it into one of our splendid black-stone churches, and the blackness, though fading, has not been cleaned off. Father Pitt hopes the church will pass into the hands of someone who appreciates it in its current sooty grandeur.

    The other thing that is different is the long-gone building behind the church in the postcard. It was almost certainly the older sanctuary, probably kept standing as a social hall. It has been gone for years now.

    Front of the church

    The style of the church is what we might call Picksburgh Perpendicular, the common adaptation of Perpendicular Gothic to the more squarish auditorium-like form of Protestant churches that emphasized preaching over liturgy. Old Pa Pitt will admit that he does not like the stubby secondary tower on the left. It is probably very useful in providing space for a stairwell, but the two towers are too widely separated, as if they are not on speaking terms. The emphatic corner tower is the star of the show, and the other tower seems to be making an ineffectual attempt to upstage it. In spite of that quibble, though, this is a beautiful building that deserves appreciative owners.

    Side of the building
    Side from a different angle
  • Beverly Heights Presbyterian Church, Mount Lebanon

    Beverly Heights Presbyterian Church

    Built in about 1930, this rich stone Perpendicular Gothic church was designed by J. L. Beatty.

    Front of the church
    Left-hand entrance
    It was not old Pa Pitt who left that tripod sitting around by the entrance.
    Entrance from the side
    Oblique view of the front of the church
    Front of the church
    Transept window
    Rear of the church
    Beverly Heights Presbyterian Church

    Cameras: Konica Minolta DiMAGE Z6; Canon PowerShot SX150IS.

  • St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, Mount Lebanon

    St. Paul’s Episcopal Church

    A richly stony church built for the ages in a tastefully modernized Gothic style.

    Anno Domini 1930
    Plaque: St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, with service times
    Side entrance
    Rear of the church
    St. Paul’s
    Kodak EasyShare Z981.
  • Entrance to the Union Trust Building

  • Oakmont Presbyterian Church

    Oakmont Presbyterian Church

    A typical corner-tower church in an adapted version of the Perpendicular Gothic style.

  • Keystone Athletic Club

    Keystone Athletic Club

    The Keystone Athletic Club was designed by Benno Janssen, Pittsburgh’s favorite architect for high-class clubs of all sorts. Most of them were classical in style, but for this skyscraper clubhouse Janssen chose a simple and streamlined Gothic style instead. It is now Lawrence Hall, the main building of Point Park University, so that two universities in Pittsburgh have trademark Gothic skyscrapers.

    Keystone Athletic Club emblem
    Side of the Keystone Athletic Club
    Terra-cotta tile

    Early in his career, Benno Janssen was a fiend for terra cotta; he was much more restrained later on, but he usually included some characteristically appropriate terra-cotta ornaments.

    Fujifilm FinePix HS10.
  • 43rd Street Presbyterian Church, Lawrenceville

    Front of the 43rd Street Presbyterian Church

    Built in 1883, this church now belongs to the New Bethel Baptist Church. It is typical of its era, but unusual in preserving its octagonal steeple.

    For some reason these pictures got lost in the piles of photographs old Pa Pitt is always stacking up here and there. They were taken in September of 2022.

    Date stone: Built A. D. 1883. 43. ST. Presbyterian Church.
    43rd Street Presbyterian Church
    Tower and steeple
    New Bethel Baptist Church

    Perhaps Father Pitt held off on publishing these pictures because he was debating whether he should do something about that jungle of utility cables. The cables won that debate.

  • Oakmont Methodist Episcopal Church

    Oakmont Methodist Episcopal Church

    Perhaps a member of the congregation can help sort out the history of these two church buildings in Oakmont.

    Just this first one, which is still a United Methodist church, is complicated enough. It appears from construction listings to have been started under one architect and finished under another. The current form of the church is the work of Pittsburgh’s Chauncey W. Hodgdon, who drew the plans in 1914. That arcaded porch is a typical Hodgdon feature.

    The Construction Record, September 12, 1914: “Oakmont, Pa.—Architect C. W . Hodgdon, Penn building, Pittsburgh, has new plans for the superstructure of a one-story stone church for the First Methodist Episcopal Congregation on Fifth and Maryland street to be built at a cost of $30,000.”


    But the construction listings tell us that Hodgdon was responsible for the “superstructure”: apparently the foundations had been laid already under the supervision of the prolific New Castle architect William G. Eckles.

    The American Contractor, January 25, 1913: “Church: 1 sty. $30,000. Oakmont, Pa. Archt. Wm. G. Eckles, Lawrence Savings & Trust bldg., New Castle. Owner M. E. Church, Oakmont. Plans in progress; architect will be ready for bids March 1. Brick, stone trim, wood cornice, struct. iron, hardwood finish & floors, gas & electric fixtures.”

    Mr. Eckles was a successful and reliable architect who littered Western Pennsylvania with fine schools and churches, so old Pa Pitt has no explanation for why he did not finish this project. We note also that the budget seems to have gone up: under Eckles, it was to have been a brick church with stone and wood accents at $30,000; Hodgdon’s “superstructure” was budgeted at $30,000, which we presume did not include the foundations, and it was all stone.

    Around the corner is an older church whose date stone tells us it was the previous Oakmont Methodist Episcopal Church:

    [Older Oakmont M. E. Church

    Date Stone: Oakmont M. E. Church, 1892.

    This is also a slight mystery, because the date stone says 1892, but the building bears a plaque that says “Circa 1877.” (Many buildings in Oakmont bear date plaques, all with “circa,” probably under the common assumption that “circa” means “here comes a date.”) Father Pitt’s guess is that the tower was built after the church. The building is no longer a church: it is now something called “The High Spire.”

    Old Oakmont M. E. Church

    Cameras: Sony Alpha 3000; Nikon COOLPIX P100.

  • Allen Chapel A.M.E. Church, Manchester

    Allen Chapel A. M. E. Church

    A detailed history of Allen Chapel (PDF) was written by the late Carol Peterson with her usual thoroughness, so old Pa Pitt will only summarize very briefly. The building was put up by the Bethel English Lutheran Church in 1894, but that congregation outgrew it rapidly and built a new church (long gone) a few blocks away. In 1905 this building was bought by the African Methodist Episcopal congregation that worshiped here for the rest of the century. When that congregation moved, it kept the building as a youth ministry center.

    End of the building
    Perspective view
    Kodak EasyShare Z981.

    Map showing the location of the church.

  • St. Thomas Memorial Church, Oakmont

    St. Thomas Memorial Church

    The outsized corner tower of this Episcopal church defines the rich and splendid building, designed by R. Maurice Trimble and built in 1906. Old Pa Pitt is especially happy that the clock is keeping time, because it’s an extraordinary clock.

    Clock face
    St. Thomas Memorial Church

    Cameras: Sony Alpha 3000; Nikon COOLPIX P100.