The auditorium of Allegheny High School on the North Side was built in 1936, at the height of the Art Deco era. There are three exits, and the architect’s scheme demanded a relief over each one. So we have Art Deco interpretations of the three masks of the classical theater: Comedy. Tragedy, and Meh.
Like many buildings on the southeast side of Liberty Avenue, where the two grids of our eighteenth-century street plan collide, the Baum Building is forced into a triangle. It began its life as the Liberty Theater, but it lasted for only a few years before being turned into offices. Now, under the ownership of the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust, it has gone back into the entertainment business as an art gallery.
The Stanley was the most magnificent theater ever built in Pittsburgh, and as the Benedum Center it continues to be one of the busiest. It was built to designs by the Hoffman-Henon Co. of Philadelphia at the very end of the silent era, opening in 1928. The old animated sign on the Penn Avenue side is lovingly maintained.
Maurice Spitalny directed the house orchestra here in the late 1930s and into the 1940s. His brother Phil was more famous nationally for his all-girl Hour of Charm Orchestra, but Maurice had a long and successful career. He wrote one song that everyone in America has heard: “Start the Day Right,” which is used in at least a dozen different Warner Brothers cartoons.
The chandelier at the Benedum Center, which began life as Pittsburgh’s most splendid movie palace, the Stanley.