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Category Archive: PHLF News

  1. Pittsburgh Banksville Participates in PHLF’s “People & Places” Trolley Tour

    For the second year, PHLF is offering its People & Places trolley tour to fourth-grade students in three Pittsburgh Public Schools as part of its EITC Building Pride; Building Character program. PHLF’s People & Places tour introduces students to the important people in Pittsburgh’s past, through the buildings, bridges, and parks named after them. This trolley tour builds upon students’ prior learning experience on PHLF’s third-grade trolley tour, which uses visits to the City-County Building, Courthouse, Fort Pitt Museum, Fort Pitt Blockhouse, and Incline to teach students about the importance of caring for Pittsburgh’s historic places––and the importance of building their character in the process.

    The adventure begins when students board a modern interpretation of a historic transportation form––a trolley! The first stop is Dollar Bank’s Heritage Center, where students learn firsthand about Pittsburgh’s history of diversity through generations of deposit accounts interpreted through the Heritage Center’s historic exhibits.

    The exploration continues as students ride the trolley through Downtown and across three bridges, pointing out the places named for various people: Stanwix Street—General John Stanwix; Forbes Avenue—General John Forbes; Heinz Hall—the Heinz family; Fort Duquesne Boulevard—Marquis Duquesne; the Roberto Clemente, Andy Warhol, and Rachel Carson bridges; and the Convention Center—David L. Lawrence. Stopping at the August Wilson African American Cultural Center, one of our cooperating partners for this program, students learn all about the man for whom this vibrant and creative building is named, while reading some of the playwright’s own words about his city.

    Visits to August Wilson’s house and Freedom Corner round out the day. Along the way, students are given time to fill in their trip book with reflections on their journey. Most importantly, students are asked to imagine a place in Pittsburgh that––either adapted, created, or restored, they would want named for them in the future, and why. All of these valuable tours and explorations are possible only through the support of our donors. To view highlighted pictures from past EITC program years, click here.

    These successful programs are always in need of corporate support! To contribute to PHLF’s “Building Pride, Building Character” (BPBC) EITC program, please click here.

  2. PHLF’s “Building Pride, Building Character” Program Continues to Inspire

    At the top of the school
    Watching the students
    Make sure they’re safe
    Protecting the students
    Covered in copper
    Watching the students
    The sun to their world
    Lighting their future
    To protect the students

    ––Fifth grade poet,
    Whittier Elementary School

    PHLF’s “Building Pride; Building Character” program gives elementary and middle school students in twelve Pittsburgh Public Schools the opportunity to become explorers, artists, poets, and people who work to improve our communities. This academic year, we have successfully completed Poetry & Art workshops with four Pittsburgh Public Schools, and presented three Portable Pittsburgh in-school presentations.

    This March, our “Building Pride; Building Character” program continues, with our in-school career awareness exploration, our full-day, trolley tour to five historic sites in cooperation with Council representatives, the Mayor’s Office, Fort Pitt Museum, Fort Pitt Block House, and Duquesne Incline, and our Pittsburgh People & Places trolley tour in cooperation with the August Wilson African American Cultural Center.

    In PHLF’s career awareness exploration, “People Who Work to Improve Our Communities,” students begin to understand how the skills and knowledge they are acquiring in school will help them become engineers, bankers, architects, lawyers, HVAC technicians, electricians, contractors, public officials, etc. Through colorful posters, tools of the trade, maps, and discussions about their school and community, students have the chance to discover how their future career choices can help improve their community.

    On PHLF’s all-day trolley tour, students learn about Pittsburgh’s history and architecture in order to understand the importance of caring for its historic places––and build their character in the process. PHLF’s Pittsburgh People & Places trolley tour, in cooperation with the August Wilson African American Cultural Center, introduces students to some of the people for whom our buildings, bridges, and parks are named. All of these valuable tours and explorations are possible only through the support of our donors. To view highlighted pictures from past EITC program years, click here.

    These successful programs are always in need of corporate support! To contribute to PHLF’s “Building Pride, Building Character” (BPBC) EITC program, please click here.

  3. PHLF Awards $93,717 for Renovation of Historic Religious Structures.

    The Historic Religious Properties Grant Program of PHLF has awarded a total of $93,717 in matching grants and technical assistance to 11 congregations in Allegheny County as part of its 2020 funding cycle. The monies, which will leverage over $1.5 million raised by the congregations, will be used to fund restoration, renovation, and maintenance projects on the historic structures utilized by religious organizations. The work ranges from slate roof repairs to stained glass window restoration, and masonry repointing, among other needs.

    PHLF is the only nonprofit organization in Allegheny County offering a continuing program of financial and technical assistance to historic religious property owners. Since 1997, we have awarded more than 250 such grants totaling more than $1 million and provided more than 60 technical assistance consultations.

    Our effort is made possible through individual donations, private foundations, and our Donor Advised Funds. For more information about this program, contact David Farkas: or 412-471-5808 ext. 516.


    2020 Grant Recipients

    $10,000– Church of The Ascension, Shadyside—masonry repairs and pointing

    $7,950– Church of the Redeemer, Squirrel Hill— Restoration of stained glass in narthex

    $9,900– Clark Memorial Baptist Church, Homestead– Entry column repair; spot pointing

    $10,000– Eastminster Presbyterian, East Liberty–– Restore 1 porch stained glass window

    $10,000– First Baptist Church of Pittsburgh, Oakland– Slate roof repairs; downspout replacement

    $3,150– First Presbyterian Church of Pittsburgh, Downtown–– Stained glass window repair

    $10,000– St. Andrew Lutheran Church, Shadyside–– Repaint exterior wood trim

    $10,000– St. John The Baptist Ukrainian Church, South Side–– Install new handicapped ramp to sanctuary

    $7,483– Third Presbyterian Church, Shadyside– Restore main entry doors

    $5,234– Tree of Life Open Bible Church, Brookline– Replace six casement windows with historically appropriate wood-clad windows.

    $10,000– The Union Project, East Liberty– Restore original stone entry stairs

  4. PHLF’s Winter Interns “Look Up” to See Their City

    Over the years, PHLF has been fortunate to have many volunteer interns. This winter, we welcomed two more: Margaux Wilson, from the Indiana University of Pennsylvania, who finished her internship in January; and Karlena Calabro, also from IUP, who will be helping out at PHLF until early spring.

    Over my winter break I decided to apply for a volunteer internship at Pittsburgh History & Landmarks Foundation. Among the many activities I helped out with during my internship, I participated in a staff walking tour of Downtown Pittsburgh in late December. During this tour, I realized that by not “looking up” I was missing out on the beauty of Pittsburgh. When I looked up at the different buildings, I finally got to see the amazing details of places I thought I was familiar with! For example, in Market Square, I never realized how intricate and decorative the human-scale buildings are, even though I have been in Market Square before. Along Fourth Avenue’s Historic District, I never stopped to look up before; if I had, I would have seen the small details that make the buildings feel so impressive!

     At first, I was nervous that I would not find anything interesting during my walk, but I was wrong. This tour allowed me to see a different side of my city and explore it from a new perspective. Now when I walk around Pittsburgh––or any other city––I start looking up at the buildings and admiring the architecture.

    ­           –Margaux Wilson, IUP, majoring in Art history (minoring in Asian Studies).

    Interning with PHLF has been an insightful and exciting experience. I was given the chance to examine artifacts from Pittsburgh’s past and help set up educational tours/programs for Pittsburgh students. I have worked in archival studies and even examined hand written letters from 1863!

     At PHLF, the history of Pittsburgh comes alive and is totally accessible. It makes me feel more in touch and knowledgeable about the city and people around me. I am very happy with my internship so far.

    – Karlena Calabro, IUP, majoring in Anthropology (concentrating in archaeology).

    Below is a gallery of photographs taken by our winter intern Margaux Wilson during her walking tour of Downtown Pittsburgh.

  5. Landmarks Scholarship Opportunity for Allegheny County Students

    For the twenty-second year, thanks to funding support from PHLF’s Brashear Family Donor Advised Fund, the McSwigan Family Foundation Fund of The Pittsburgh Foundation, Dollar Bank Foundation, and others, PHLF is offering a scholarship program for high-achieving, community-minded, high-school seniors in Allegheny County who will be attending college or university in the fall of 2020. “The students selected by our committee already feel connected to the city and its history and will hopefully continue to serve the region as leaders in promoting PHLF’s values,” said David Brashear, a PHLF trustee and the program founder.

    “I know now that […] I will be able to achieve my dream of becoming an architect and one day, hope to allow my creations to be a new part of history in my hometown of Pittsburgh.” This essay from a Landmarks Scholarship recipient in 1999 demonstrates the powerful impact our scholarship program can have. Each applicant is asked to describe in an essay a place in Allegheny County that is especially important to him/her; these essays show how our scholarship has helped future preservationists, architects, designers, and planners actualize their career dreams and remain connected to the Pittsburgh region.

    If you would like to donate to our Landmarks Scholarship Program to help it grow and to ensure that it continues, please click here or contact Mary Lu Denny at PHLF. Thank you!

    Since 1999, PHLF has awarded scholarships to 76 high school seniors who care deeply about the Pittsburgh region. The scholarship award of $6,000, payable over four years to the recipient’s college or university, is for book and tuition expenses only. In addition, PHLF has awarded Honorable Mentions (a one-time gift of $250) to 14 students since 2016. Thirty-five of these 90 recipients attended Pittsburgh Public High Schools and 55 attended other schools within Allegheny County. The application deadline is April 21, 2020. Download an application HERE or click here to learn more about the eligibility requirements and criteria.

  6. PHLF’s “Building Pride, Building Character” Program Poetry & Art Begins

    This February, our fourteenth year of place-based education programs with twelve Pittsburgh Public Schools continues, with four Pittsburgh Public Schools participating in PHLF’s Poetry & Art tour on the campus of Carnegie Mellon University.  We will also share our Portable Pittsburgh Artifact Kit with PPS Roosevelt and Dilworth students.

    PHLF is able to offer these field trips and in-school activities for the Pittsburgh Public Schools through the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development’s Educational Improvement Tax Credit (EITC) program. This year, Dollar Bank donated $5,000 to support this program, in addition to corporate sponsors from 2019:

    • First National Bank of Pennsylvania,
    • Frank B. Fuhrer Wholesale Company,
    • Hefren-Tillotson, Inc.,
    • Maher Duessel, CPA,
    • PNC Bank,
    • The Buncher Company, and

    This program also receives foundation support from:

    • The Eat’n Park Hospitality Group Fund of The Pittsburgh Foundation, and
    • The McSwigan Family Foundation Fund of The Pittsburgh Foundation.

    The students involved in “Building Pride, Building Character” tours and enrichment activities have a chance to know their city better, and through knowing, to care about it more.

    During Poetry & Art, students tour CMU’s campus, drawing inspiration from architectural details and using them to jumpstart their own creative work. After exploring the campus, students create original poetry compositions as well as charcoal artwork.

    Portable Pittsburgh––an in-school presentation––shares Pittsburgh’s rich past through REAL artifacts! Over thirty mystery artifacts are given to students for them to guess their use and place in time. After examining each artifact, students discover Pittsburgh’s history as told through each artifact. Pre-historic tools, minerals such as coal and limestone, 20th century children’s clothing, and Heinz ketchup bottles all combine to bring Pittsburgh’s architecture and history to life.

    To view highlighted pictures from past EITC program years, click HERE.

    ­­These successful programs are always in need of corporate support! To contribute to PHLF’s “Building Pride, Building Character” (BPBC) EITC program, please click HERE.

  7. Donor Advised Funds Help Fund Mission-Related Work

    Dear friends,

    I would like to report to you about our Donor Advised Funds, which help to underwrite important programs at Pittsburgh History & Landmarks Foundation. We have 26 such funds that have helped fund our programs in historic building restoration, education, and advocacy.

    Donor Advised Funds are permanently endowed funds. Once established, they can grow through continuing contributions by the donor who created them or by other donors who may wish to help grow a particular fund. Each year we distribute approximately 4% to 5% of the value of each fund on a rolling three-year average to the preservation work a donor wishes, or to the purposes for which the fund was established.

    I have personally established two such funds, which continue to grow through contributions from friends and family members as well as the investment return generated by the Landmarks Financial Corporation, our investment subsidiary.

    Thanks to our Donor Advised Funds, we have been able to acquire and restore very deteriorated houses in historic neighborhoods. We recently completed restoration of two such houses at 1403 and 1405 Pennsylvania Avenue in Manchester, which we have put on the market on a subsidized basis to help maintain affordability in a highly appreciating real estate market. Our Donor Advised Funds also help fund our educational programs, our Historic Religious Properties Grant program, and our Frank B. Fairbanks Rail Transportation Archive.

    Other organizations that received funding assistance from PHLF’s Donor Advised Funds include: the Trust for Public Land, the National Association for Olmsted Parks, Project for Public Spaces, Duquesne Heights Incline, Dormont Historical Society, The Cultural Landscape Foundation, Western Pennsylvania School for the Deaf, Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens, Rotary Club of Monroeville, the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy, the National Trust for Historic Preservation, Frick Art & Historical Center, Andrew Carnegie Free Library, Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh, the Homeless Children’s Education Fund, Allegheny City Society, Rosewood Block Cluster, and the Trolley Museum, among others.


    Arthur Ziegler

  8. Look Up! You Never Know What You Might be Missing!

    By Tracy Myers
    Co-Director, Education
    Pittsburgh History & Landmarks Foundation

    If you have ever taken one of the many walking tours PHLF offers from April through October every year, you know that one of our rallying cries is “Look Up!” Tour leaders encourage participants to lift their eyes from what is immediately within sight to the rich and often surprising detail to be found in Pittsburgh’s historic architecture. We even have T-shirts with the exhortation to “Look Up” on the back, as a reminder to tour participants—and to ourselves, perhaps—that this is the best way to “get” our city’s built environment.

    Although I relocated to Pittsburgh more than 20 years ago specifically for its marvelous buildings and topography, it is only since becoming co-director of education at PHLF last August that I have come to appreciate the true wealth of the city’s architecture. And that is because, in the course of becoming familiar with our tours, I really started to… look up. In doing so Downtown, I have been delighted to discover the abundance of architectural detail. Look up, and you’re liable to see a winged grotesque, or an Atlas-like figure holding up the cornice that caps a building, or a lace-like aluminum church steeple, or the ghost of a building that has been torn down. You might see luscious blue terra cotta decoration on a building façade protected by a PHLF easement, or a procession of lion heads holding the line against a corporate cathedral. You could even espy a sculpture of an engineer tucked against a beam of a bridge, hiding in plain sight.

    I also have been reminded of the amazing variety of architectural vistas that Downtown’s unusual geography and urban plan offer up. I am constantly surprised that the same group of buildings can give different impressions depending on the street from which they’re viewed. Turn a corner, and you might think, “Wait—is that the same building that I saw just a minute ago?”—a satisfying kind of disorientation that you can experience only by looking up. Expand your field of vision even further, and you cannot help but be taken by the stunning natural backdrop of Mount Washington, the rivers, and the hills.

    Downtown Pittsburgh’s architecture is a brilliant microcosm of dominant trends throughout America over the last 200 years. What makes our architectural heritage unique is the fullness and vibrancy of its expression. The photographs in the gallery below, most of which were taken by Sarah Greenwald, my fellow co-director of education, offer just a glimpse of the architectural treasures you might encounter on one of our tours. The education department staff and our corps of 50 docents are busily working on the schedule of tours for 2020. We look forward to sharing Pittsburgh’s architecture with learners of all ages. In the meantime, PHLF members will enjoy reading an article by Charles Rosenblum about touring with PHLF that will be published in our annual 24-page PHLF News, due out by February 2020.


Pittsburgh History & Landmarks Foundation

100 West Station Square Drive, Suite 450

Pittsburgh, PA 15219

Phone: 412-471-5808  |  Fax: 412-471-1633