PCC Car and Schoolhouse, Bethel Park

Schoolhouse Arts & History Center

This old school is now a community center for Bethel Park. In front is a Pittsburgh PCC car, the ideal Art Deco streetcar that dominated Pittsburgh transit for a generation, restored to its Pittsburgh Street Railways livery. (It was one of the last PCC cars to run in Pittsburgh, and had been repainted in the 1980s Port Authority livery.) Yes, we do have quite a few pictures of it, because old Pa Pitt is an unashamed fan of PCC cars, which always look to him like trolleys that would run on the planet Mongo in the old Flash Gordon serials. More modern, but less futuristic, trolleys still run on the Silver Line just a block away.

PCC car
PCC car
Schoolhouse

Western Theological Seminary, Allegheny West

Western Theological Seminary, Allegheny West

Originally the Western Theological Seminary (a Presbyterian seminary), this building was designed by Thomas Hannah and finished in 1912. The seminary stayed here until 1959, when it merged with the other big Presbyterian seminary in town and became part of the Pittsburgh Theological Seminary in Highland Park.

Like most of the other large buildings on Ridge Avenue, this one now belongs to the Community College of Allegheny County, which calls it West Hall.

Entrance
Top of the tower

Schenley High School

Schenley High School

This is the most magnificent work of an architect who specialized in magnificent schools: Edward Stotz, whose son was the noted preservationist Charles Stotz. The building occupies a triangular sloping plot, which certainly challenged the architect. Mr. Stotz responded with a triangular building that looks inevitable on its site.

When it opened in 1916, Schenley High was a shrine of culture and art, an idealized version of what high-school education could be in an enlightened city. It closed as a school in 2008, and it has now, like every other substantial building in a desirable neighborhood, been refurbished as luxury apartments.

Curiously, Edward Stotz was also responsible for another famously triangular building: the Monongahela Bank Building, which is now the Wood Street subway station and the Wood Street Galleries.

Central Catholic High School

Central Catholic

A kind of cartoon castle, the main building of Central Catholic is technically in Squirrel Hill, though most Pittsburghers would probably say “Oakland.” The building was put up in 1927; the architect was Edward J. Weber.

Observatory Hill in 2000

Three pictures taken with a Russian Lubitel twin-lens-reflex camera in January of 2000. Very little has changed in 21 years. Above, the Byzantine Catholic Seminary, a building that is a strange mix of modernist and classical elements with an onion dome.

The Byzantine metropolitan’s residence. In the Latin Rite, Pittsburgh is not even an archdiocese, but in the Byzantine Rite, Pittsburgh is the seat of an archeparchy covering eleven states.

A typical Observatory Hill house on Riverview Avenue, one of the neighborhood’s most attractive streets.