Tag: Onion Domes

  • St. Nicholas Russian Orthodox Church, McKees Rocks Bottoms

    St. Nicholas Russian Orthodox Church

    Now billing itself as just an “Orthodox” church, since the Russian Orthodox church in America became autocephalous in 1970 and has long included a broad spectrum of ethnicities. This church was built in 1914, and the architect was George W. King—a name that so far does not appear anywhere else on old Pa Pitt’s Great Big List of Buildings and Architects. “King” does not sound like a particularly Russian name, though Ellis Island could do funny things to people’s names. But he certainly seems to have captured the spirit of Russian church design, and these onion domes are one of the most distinctive features of the skyline of the Bottoms.

    Onion domes from the rear
    Front elevation
    Entrance and porch
    Round window
    Cornerstone dated 1914
    Perspective view from the south
    Rectory

    After the baroque elaboration of the church, the rectory seems almost ruthlessly plain. But it does its job well: it matches the church in materials, thus showing its association, but it directs all attention away from itself and toward the church, which seems theologically appropriate.

  • Domes of St. Nicholas

    The domes of St. Nicholas Russian Orthodox Church in the McKees Rocks Bottoms.

    Nikita Khrushchev visited Pittsburgh during his reign, and there’s an amusing legend about his trip in from the airport. He was being driven in along the Ohio River Boulevard, which was the way to get downtown before the Parkway West was finished, and he saw the skyline of the McKees Rocks Bottoms out the window. Khrushchev was convinced that the Americans had built a Russian Potemkin village to fool him into thinking…something. His American minders tried to explain that Pittsburgh is just like that, but Khrushchev couldn’t be fooled.

    The legend may be apocryphal, but like most such legends it tells us more about the people who told the legend than it does about the person it was told about. Pittsburghers were intensely proud of exotic landscapes like the Bottoms, and thought of them as things that made their city unique in America.