There are still too many endangered landmarks in Pittsburgh, in spite of a strong local preservation movement. This one is probably doomed. All that has saved it so far is that it would cost a good deal of money to tear down, and the revival of central East Liberty has not reached this part of the neighborhood yet. As much as it would cost to tear down, it would at this point cost much more to restore, and for what? No church would spend that kind of money, and it is really suitable for no other use.
The cornerstone is dated 1857, but that comes from the older and smaller church that preceded this building. The Rev. A. A. Lambing in 1880 described that building thus: “The church, situated on Larimer Avenue, is of brick, about 75 feet in length by 40 in width, and has a tower rising from the centre in front to the height of about 100 feet…. The church, though neatly finished, lacks the leading characteristics of any particular style of architecture.” The plaque below has the data for this building:
St. Paul’s Cathedral, the cathedral of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh, in the Fifth Avenue monumental district. (The Oakland neighborhood has at least three cathedrals—Roman Catholic, Greek Orthodox, and Antiochian Orthodox—or four if you count the Cathedral of Learning.) A cathedral is the architectural equivalent of a coral reef; over the centuries, it accumulates a diverse ecosystem of art and history. St. Paul’s is only a little over a century old, but it’s beginning to show signs of the rich diversity that only time can bring.
Old St. Luke’s Church in the little village of Woodville (an unincorporated part of Scott Township) was founded in 1765. It was stuck in the middle of the Whiskey Rebellion, which divided the congregation, one of whose members was General John Neville, a tax collector who barely escaped with his life. (Woodville Plantation, the house to which he escaped, is still standing nearby.)
The current building dates from 1852. In the burying ground surrounding the little stone church are some very old graves, including some Revolutionary War veterans and “the first white child born in the Chartiers Valley.” The oldest stones were native shale, which is a very poor material for gravestones; but some of the obliterated inscriptions have been duplicated in plaques beside the stones.