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.

Alcoa Building, North Shore

The Alcoa headquarters is a modernist symphony in aluminum. Father Pitt confesses to liking this building a great deal better than the old Alcoa building downtown, which still looks like a pile of old television sets to him.

Frederick Osterling’s Architectural Studio

Frederick Osterling built this charming little building in 1917 to be his office and studio. From it he had  a fine view of the Pittsburgh skyline that he was helping shape—a view now blocked by the new Alcoa building.

Heinz Factory

Some of the old Heinz factory buildings have been turned into loft apartments, and some are still awaiting their next use. The H. J. Heinz Company was a kind of workers’ paradise when old H. J. himself ran it—there was never a strike, never a wage reduction; medical care was free; there was a library and a gymnasium, free concerts for everyone in the auditorium, and even free manicures for the women. Heinz was also notorious for pushing for federal food regulations when the rest of the food industry was fighting them tooth and nail. It was probably just the way old H. J. was constituted, but it was also priceless publicity: would you rather buy food from the company that fights federal oversight or the company that flings wide the doors and welcomes the inspectors?

The Andy Warhol Museum

Pittsburghers who remember the days before we had the largest museum in the world dedicated to a single artist will remember this as the Volkwein’s building, which housed one of the largest music stores in North America. (Volkwein’s moved to the western suburbs, where the tradition of carrying more music than anyone else continues.) But it was built as a warehouse for the Frick & Lindsay Company, a purveyor of “industrial supplies.” If warehouses were commonly as splendid as this, there would be regularly scheduled tours of the warehouse district.

No one knows who designed the original building, but in a Post-Gazette article from 1993 (when the building was under restoration), Walter Kidney suggests the William G. Wilkins Co. The details were originally in terra cotta, but the cornice had been entirely removed and other details were damaged. During the restoration, the cornice and some of the other decorations were reconstructed in glass-reinforced concrete from photographs, records, and imagination.

The Frick of Frick & Lindsay was William Frick, a distant relative of the famous robber baron Henry Clay Frick.

Camera: Konica-Minolta DiMAGE Z3. The picture of the whole building below is a composite from six photographs.

Big Heart Pet Brands on the North Shore

Big Heart Pet Brands is the former pet-food division of Del Monte. You know the names of many of their products from endless television commercials. This attractive, though rather pedestrian, building on the North Shore is the Eastern offices of the company, which is based in San Francisco; it’s a good example of the transformation of the North Shore in the last two decades.

Camera: Olympus E-20n.

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.