Interior of Saint John Lutheran Church, Carnegie

Saint John Lutheran Church in Carnegie is a fine Gothic building from 1929, late in the Gothic Revival, when it was possible to build a Gothic church with a faint whiff of Art Deco in the exterior. The interior is simple Gothic, but with some very elaborate woodwork, especially in the splendid reredos. This wide-angle view, taken from the balcony, was put together from three photographs.

St. Boniface Church

The Parkway North swerved to avoid this splendid church, but destroyed the whole neighborhood that made up its parish. Now a worship site of Holy Wisdom Parish, St. Boniface is also home to the officially sanctioned Latin Mass community in Pittsburgh (as opposed to other Latin Mass churches that call themselves Catholic but are repudiated by the Roman Catholic hierarchy).

Camera: Canon PowerShot S45. The picture of the west front above is a composite of six photographs.

Polish Hill

Immaculate Heart of Mary Church, built by Polish railroad workers in their meager time off from work, presides over the vertiginous neighborhood of Polish Hill. This view was taken from across the Allegheny on the Herr’s Island railroad bridge, now part of a bicycle trail.

Camera: Konica Minolta DiMAGE Z3.

Chartiers Hill United Presbyterian Church

A congregation near Canonsburg founded in Revolutionary times by John McMillan, “the Apostle of Presbyterianism in the West.” He preached here for decades, and his grave is here in the old churchyard, along with graves of many other early settlers.

The current building dates from 1840, with extensive renovations in 2002. While the renovations were in progress, the whole front fell down, so that everything you see on the side with the bell tower and entrance is new.

Camera: Olympus E-20n.

Former Greek Orthodox Church, Bedford Avenue, Hill District

This old church seems to be vacant right now. It has been home to other congregations over the past decades; but a hundred years ago, when the Hill was a lively melting-pot of every race and creed, it was a Greek Orthodox church. The architecture is interesting: Father Pitt is not enough of an expert on Greek churches to make a definitive pronouncement, but it looks as though the church was built by local builders familiar with generic Protestant churches. The details—round arches, onion dome, and perhaps the stepped façade—are Eastern, but the shape, with its peaked roof and entrance through a central tower, is the shape of small Protestant churches everywhere.

Camera: Konica-Minolta DiMAGE Z3.

St. Joseph’s Church, Manchester

Originally a German Catholic church. The building has long been abandoned by its former Catholic congregation (which merged with St. Peter’s), and now bears a sign for Deliverance Center Original Church of God. It could use some work, but the basic structure looks sound.

Old Pa Pitt took this composite picture back in April and then forgot about it. Here it is now. It’s quite large, so don’t click on the picture if you’re on a metered connection.

Holy Assumption of St. Mary Orthodox Church, South Side

This building has a curious history, only part of which is revealed by the capsule history on the congregation’s Web site:

“In 1917, SS. Peter and Paul Russian Orthodox Church was established in this building. In the early 1930’s due to economic realities, the faithful of SS. Peter and Paul lost their building, and were forced to move. In January of 1943, the present Church structure and parish home were regained by the faithful of SS. Peter and Paul Russian Orthodox Church and in keeping with tradition, the Church was renamed in honor of the Theotokos.”

This paragraph leaves out the origin of the building, which (according to the two date stones) was put in its present form in 1886; the date 1862 is either the date of the foundation of the former congregation or the date when the church was originally built, with a large expansion in 1886. The architecture is clearly American Protestant. “Economic realities” almost certainly means “running out of money.” But “in keeping with tradition” is not well explained: it suggests a Russian tradition that dictates that, when you buy a building from a Protestant church that’s moving out, and then lose it to an economic depression, and then win it back again in a poker game or something, you ditch the saints you came in with and rename it for St. Mary. An Orthodox reader may be able to explain the tradition better to Father Pitt.

At any rate, the church has been Holy Assumption for more than seventy years now, and it is one of the few really successful congregations on the South Side Flats—where others are losing members, this one seems to be growing and thriving.