Tag: Schools

  • Edwin Markham Public School, Mount Lebanon

    Inscription: Edwin Markham Public School, Mount Lebanon

    All the older schools in Mount Lebanon were designed by Ingham & Boyd, and here we see a fine example of their style. An Ingham & Boyd school is an implied guarantee that your children will grow up to be respectable citizens. The buildings are in a restrained classical style, with just enough ornament to show that good money was spent on this structure. This particular school is named for a poet who was a big deal in the early twentieth century and has been almost completely forgotten since then.

    Edwin Markham Public School
    Edwin Markham Public School
    Edwin Markham Public School
    Fujifilm FinePix HS10.
  • St. Michael’s Mädchen Schule, South Side Slopes

    St. Michael’s Mädchen Schule

    It seems certain that this building, formerly the girls’ school for St. Michael’s parish, will be demolished sooner or later; what has saved it so far is the expense of demolishing a large building in a neighborhood with low property values. But the South Side Slopes, like many city neighborhoods, have become much more valuable lately.

    Right now, the building appears to house a whole alternate civilization of “homeless” squatters. In an ideal city, perhaps, it could continue to do so, but with a city budget for maintaining it and providing the elementary comforts to the residents. We do not live in that ideal city.

    At any rate, it seemed worth stopping to record a few details of the building before it disappears entirely, and another piece of Pittsburgh’s rich German history is gone. We also have a few pictures from a year and a half ago, including a composite view of the front.

    Entrance, perspective view

    “St. Michael’s Mädchen Schule” (“St. Michael’s Girls’ School”).


    “Errichtet A. D. 1872” (“Erected A. D. 1872”).


    “Wiedererbaut A. D. 1900” (“Rebuilt A. D. 1900”).

    St. Michael’s Mädchen Schule
    Kodak EasyShare Z981.
  • Western Theological Seminary, Allegheny West

    Western Theological Seminary
    Sony Alpha 3000.

    We saw the Western Theological Seminary at the blue hour last month. Here are a few pictures taken just after sunset, when the light is brighter and just touched with gold.


    The building was designed by Thomas Hannah in 1914. It is now West Hall of the Community College of Allegheny County, which has an admirable record of preserving historic buildings.

    Top of the tower
    Perspective view
    Another perspective
    From the sidewalk
  • Western Pennsylvania School for Blind Children, Oakland

    Western Pennsylvania School for Blind Children

    George S. Orth was the architect of this palace of education, which was finished in 1894. It’s a little bit Flemish Renaissance, with eye-catching horizontal stripes and Rundbogenstil eyebrows over the arches.

    Front of the school
    Entrance arcade
  • Western Theological Seminary, Allegheny West

    Western Theological Seminary

    “Blue hour” pictures are very fashionable these days. Well, old Pa Pitt can do those too, if you really want them.

    Western Theological Seminary tower

    We also have pictures of the Western Theological Seminary by day.

  • Sharpsburg Public School

    Sharpsburg Public School

    Here is a hint for institutions finding themselves in possession of distinguished historic buildings that are crumbling a bit at the cornice: when the low-bidding contractor says, “Sure, I can fix that…”

    Perspective view of the building

    …see what the second-lowest-bidding contractor has to offer.

    One end of the building

    The building is still in use as a school, now for special education. We note that it has been modified to suit the modern discovery that natural light poisons children’s blood.

    Blocked entrance
    Ionic capital
  • St. Michael School, South Side

    St. Matthew School

    This little Slovak school, which opened in 1917, was designed by German-American architect Herman Lang, known for some splendid churches (notably St. George’s in Allentown and St. Basil’s in Carrick). He gave it a dignified and symmetrical façade that no one will ever see like this, because it faces a tiny narrow alley with room for one car to squeeze past the buildings on either side. It is impossible to photograph the school without resorting to trickery, but old Pa Pitt has never been above trickery. You will notice the seams if you enlarge this picture, but that is because this is one of the most impossible photographs Father Pitt has ever attempted.

    The building is in good shape, having been turned into apartments, like almost every other school on the South Side.


    The cornerstone was laid in 1916.

  • Nativity of Our Lord Church, Observatory Hill

    Nativity of Our Lord Church

    Here is an interesting demonstration of how many Catholic parishes developed in the first half of the twentieth century, and a reminder of how ecclesiastical priorities have changed. Father Pitt does not know the whole history of this building, and perhaps a parishioner could fill us in. But the main outline is this:

    Cornerstone: A. M. D. G. Nativity of Our Lord Parish School

    The cornerstone tells us that the building was put up in 1925. But it tells us that this was the parish school—and indeed, if we look at the picture at the top of the article again, we can see that the lower level was built first. Many parishes built a school building first, and worshiped in a space in the school until they could afford to build a sanctuary. In Brookline, for example, Resurrection parish built its parish school first and worshiped in the gymnasium until the main church could be constructed. The Lutherans a couple of blocks away did the same thing: St. Mark’s still worships in the building that was intended to be the Sunday-school wing, with a much grander church that never went up next to it. It was taken for granted that the children would be educated, and in Catholic parishes it was taken for granted that there would be a parish school to give them their daily education; if priorities had to be set, the school went up first, because it was easier to adapt a school for worship than to adapt a church sanctuary for schooling.

    In this case, the sanctuary was built on top of the original school, which was probably the plan from the beginning. We can therefore add this to our list of churches with the sanctuary upstairs, although, because of the steep Pittsburghish lot, the corner entrance is only seven steps up from the sidewalk.


    The belfry is one of the most picturesque aspects of the building.

  • Birmingham Public School, South Side

    Birmingham Public School

    All the South Side histories tell us that this school was originally built in 1871, the year before Birmingham was taken into the city of Pittsburgh as part of the South Side. From old maps, however, it appears that only the central part of the school, invisible from the street today, was built that early. The two identical fronts, this one on 15th Street and the other on 14th Street, seem to date from the 1880s. In 1940, the building was sold to St. Adalbert’s parish up the street, which used it as a middle school. It spent more than sixty years as a Catholic school of one sort or another. The last incarnation of the Catholic school closed in 2002, and after that the school—like all the other closed schools on the South Side—was converted to apartments.

    Perspective view
  • Morningside Public School

    Morningside Public School

    Edward J. Carlisle was the architect of this school, built in 1897 in a very Victorian Gothic style.

    Inscription: “Morningside Public School”
    Perspective view
    With attached buildings

    The building is preserved because it has been worked into a senior citizens’ home.