Charles Taze Russell Grave and Pyramid

Father Pitt has just published this article on his Pittsburgh Cemeteries site, but he thought it might also be of interest to students of local history in general.

“Pastor Russell,” as his followers called him, founded the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society and the International Bible Students Association, the organization that—after various schisms and defections—came to be known as Jehovah’s Witnesses. He was born in Allegheny (now the North Side), and when he died he was buried in what is now (after a number of changes of ownership) the Rosemont, Mt. Hope, & Evergreen United Cemeteries in Ross Township.

His fairly modest grave monument includes a photograph of Pastor Russell, lovingly preserved (and perhaps replaced more than once over the years).

Note the inscription identifying Pastor Russell as the Laodicean Messenger, or “the angel of the church of the Laodiceans,” as the King James Bible translates it (Revelation 3:14). Russell’s followers believed that he himself was that angel or messenger.

Russell died in 1916. In 1921, some of his followers erected a showier monument in the form of a pyramid. One of Russell’s odd beliefs was that the Great Pyramid in Egypt was designed by God himself as a prophecy in stone. Like most such prophecies, it was meant to be uninterpretable until the correct clever interpreter came along—in this case, Pastor Russell.

This is actually one of the few cemetery pyramids in the Pittsburgh area whose proportions are Egyptian rather than classical Roman. It is meant to have the same proportions as the Great Pyramid, and in particular the capstone is carefully proportioned to match the Great Pyramid’s capstone, which in Pastor Russell’s interpretation represents the Christ.

The pyramid was meant as a marker not only for Russell, but for a number of other members of the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society, who owned this plot in the cemetery. A few names are inscribed in the open Bibles on the four sides of the pyramid, but most of the blank space was never used. It seems that the separate ownership of this plot has been preserved through the various changes of ownership the rest of the cemetery has gone through.

Schenley High School in 1916

Grant Boulevard (now Bigelow Boulevard) Front.

Abandoned for some time because it would have been too costly to restore for use by students, this magnificent building by Edward Stotz may soon be luxury apartments for yuppies. Here we see it as it was when it was newly built in 1916, from the Year Book of the Pittsburgh Architectural Club.

Rear.

Main Entrance Hall.

Would you like to build your own Schenley High School? Here are the original plans:

Design for the City-County Building

This rendering was published in 1916, before the building opened in 1917; but this is how the City-County Building still looks today. “Diamond Street” is now part of Forbes Avenue, except for the remnant of the outer end that veers off Forbes for one scraggly diagonal block to meet Fifth Avenue.

Belmar Theater, Homewood

This movie house was newly built in 1915, when this picture was published. It was open until the late 1960s; it was torn down in the 1970s.

The Regent Theater, Newly Built

From a movie trade magazine of 1915 we take this interesting article about the newly opened Regent in East Liberty, now the Kelly Strayhorn Theater. Click on the image for a much larger version.

“The foyer is decorated in the Adams period” probably means in the Adam style—that is, the neoclassical style made popular by the Adam brothers in the 1700s and undergoing a revival in the early twentieth century.

The picture below shows how the theater looks today: stripped of its projecting awning, but otherwise very much the same.

Wm. G. Johnston & Co. Building

William G. Johnston & Co. was a very successful printing and bookbinding firm that put up this building on Ninth Street at Penn Avenue in 1886. Mr. Johnston would probably be pleased to see that his building looks very much as it did when he knew it, except that—like every other building downtown—it is doubtless cleaner. If you look very closely, you may see a small stitching error, which comes from the fact that this picture is put together from multiple photographs. The lesson, obviously, is not to look so closely.

Two Movie Theaters in 1912

From Motion Picture World, 1912.

Father Pitt does not know the exact location of either of these establishments. The fact that the Casino was remarkable for having been in the same place for eight years shows how temporary these early theaters often were. Pittsburgh, of course, invented the movie theater, and by 1912 no neighborhood was complete without one. The larger ones, like the Casino below, also booked vaudeville acts.

From Motion Picture World, 1912.