Tag: Restoration

  • Katsafanas Coffee Co., North Side

    Katsafanas Coffee Co. inscription

    In about 1925 the Katsafanas Coffee Company bought this building on North Avenue on the North Side and had the front completely redone in an ultramodern style. Father Pitt does not yet know the architect who supervised the remodeling, but it was obviously someone of rare taste. A renovation of the remodeling, carefully preserving what was preservable, was supervised by Pfaffman & Associates, a firm that has worked on some of our most outstanding restorations and on the sui generis Gateway subway station.

    Front of the Katsafanas Coffee Co. building
    Katsafanas Coffee Co., tea importers & coffee roasters; packers of high grade coffees teas and spices

    This sign was painted by the A. E Jones Sign Co., which is still in business at 507 Tripoli Street in Dutchtown, and still doing hand-painted signs.

    Cameras: Sony Alpha 3000, Fujifilm FinePix HS10.

  • Olympic Theatre, Beechview

    Olympic Theatre

    This silent-era neighborhood movie palace has a circular history. It was built as the Olympic Theatre; when the theater closed, the building became an American Legion hall and remained in the Legion’s hands for decades; then it was converted to a nursing home. In 2019, a video-production company called Cut ‘N’ Run Productions (with an officially backwards apostrophe before the N about which old Pa Pitt can do nothing) spent a good bit of money making the building look like itself again, and it is once again in the movie business and looking splendid.

    Olympic Theatre, Beechview

    That little alley to the right of the theater is Parody Way, one of Father Pitt’s favorite alley names in Pittsburgh.

    We also have a picture of the building in the middle of its restoration.

  • Skinny Building Under Wraps

    Skinny Building shrouded

    The Skinny Building and its neighbor the Roberts Building have been bought by PNC. Here they are shrouded for renovation work. The last old Pa Pitt heard, PNC was planning on displaying art in the upper windows of the Skinny Building.

  • Beechview Theater

    Beechview Theater

    Some time ago old Pa Pitt took a picture of this silent-era neighborhood movie theater in the middle of its recent renovation. It is pleasing to see it now nicely finished and home to a video-production company. It has had an eventful and oddly circular history. It was built before 1914, since it appears in a 1914 guide to Pittsburgh (which describes Beechview as “beyond the South Hills,” showing how the definition of “South Hills” has moved with the expansion of the suburbs). After some decades as a theater, it was turned into an American Legion post. Then for a while it became a nursing home. Finally it was renovated as you see it now and brought back to its roots in the movie business.

    An update: According to a 1923 map, this was called the Olympic Theater. There were at least three theaters in Beechview in 1923.

  • Restoring the Observatory

    Allegheny Observatory

    The Allegheny Observatory, begun in 1900, is getting some restoration work. The architect was Thorsten E. Billquist, the sort of name one wishes one had invented.

    Entrance to the Allegheny Observatory
  • The History Behind the Façade

    For years this building has been hidden behind a garish modernist façade. Renovation work shows us a modest mid-nineteenth-century building typical of old Birmingham, the narrow-streeted section of the South Side up to 17th Street.

    Update: The building has been restored to something more like its original appearance.

  • Beechview Theater Under Renovation

    A videography and photography company that has been in business for some years is renovating the old Beechview Theater. This was a silent-movie house built before 1914 (since it appears in a guide to Pittsburgh published that year, in which Beechview is described as “beyond the South Hills”); after its movie days, it spent a long time as an American Legion post, and then for a while it was a nursing home. Old Pa Pitt hopes it will be loved in its new career that brings it back very close to its roots.

    An update: According to a 1923 map, this was called the Olympic Theater. There were at least three theaters in Beechview in 1923. See the theater in its restored state here.