Old St. John the Baptist Byzantine Catholic Cathedral, Munhall

The cathedral moved farther out into the suburbs (though still in Munhall borough), and this is now the National Carpatho-Rusyn Cultural and Educational Center—an institution that keeps no regular hours and obviously can barely afford to keep the building standing. But the church is loved, and we may hope that whatever love can accomplish will be done for it. The architect was Titus de Bobula, a Hungarian who designed several churches around here. He is a fascinating character: he went back to Hungary in the 1920s and was imprisoned for plotting to overthrow the government; then he came back here and designed more churches, while simultaneously working on the designs for the structural aspects of Nikola Tesla’s fantastic, and possibly delusional, electronic superweapons, which of course were never built. It is not often that we find such a direct line from a Carpatho-Rusyn cathedral to the world of science fiction.

Connoisseurs of elegant lettering should not miss the plaque identifying the architect, contractor, and building date. Father Pitt suspects that de Bobula himself designed it: there is nothing else quite like it in Pittsburgh, and the style seems very much like the Art Nouveau of Budapest.

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