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  1. Free Neighborhood Book for PHLF Family Members––Summer Fun!

    Mt. Oliver, A Borough Completely Surrounded by Pittsburgh, by Avery

    Mt. Oliver is a small borough that is about .34 square miles in total and was founded in 1769 by Captain John Ormsby. It sits completely surrounded by 6 neighborhoods in the City of Pittsburgh. In 1927, the City of Pittsburgh tried to force Mt. Oliver Borough to become a part of the City. After many legal battles, it was declared that Pittsburgh had no rights to Mt. Oliver, and it has since remained its own borough. Because of its small size, Mt. Oliver does pay taxes to the City of Pittsburgh to use their school system, and that’s why I am here writing my story today!

    On a fall day here in Mt. Oliver, you will see the usual fallen leaves and people bustling about; and you will hear the loud noises of cars and buses. Mt. Oliver has a nice mix of houses, apartment buildings, and businesses. The business district of Mt. Oliver boasts a borough building, a police department, a volunteer fire station, post office, florist, bakery, barbershop, and many other stores. One notable landmark you won’t miss while driving or walking through Mt. Oliver is the big clock tower that sits at the intersection of Brownsville Road and Hayes Avenue.

    While taking a walk to the business district, we stopped at the barbershop so my older brother could get a haircut. Since we were there, I thought I’d ask the barber a couple of questions about the business and the neighborhood.

    Question: “Do you like being a barber?”

    Answer: “Love it. I love seeing all of my regular clients and sometimes new faces.”

    Question: “Do you like the location of your barber shop?”

    Answer: “Very much. I like to watch all of the people pass by while out shopping.

    In conclusion, living in Mt. Oliver doesn’t seem any different than living in the City since no matter which direction I go in, there is a City neighborhood surrounding me. I do, however, like being tucked away in my own little borough.


    Carrick, by Nyla

                I live in Carrick. My neighborhood is very calm. When I step outside, I see the colorful leaves falling off the trees. I interviewed my Mom and she said that the neighbors participate in holidays. For example, people pass out lots of candy and dress up on Halloween. A lot of people are friendly, and traveling to Downtown is easy. She enjoys her job as a case worker which allows her to help people get food and other resources within the community.

    Is your neighborhood like mine? Or is it different?


    My Beautiful Neighborhood, by Mi’Kiyah

    Hello, my name is Mi’Kiyah. I am going to tell you about my community and neighborhood.

    To me, community means a whole bunch of people, plants, and streets.

    This is what I treasure and care about most. I want to protect plants because they give us oxygen. There is a beautiful garden and there are beautiful plants in my neighborhood, and I often get flowers for my Mom and family.

    Thank you for listening to my story.


    How I Got to Go to Anthony’s Pizza for Softball, by Kaylee

    When I played softball in Carrick, we had to make a banner and walk in a parade. We put softballs on the banner with our names on them. The winning team got to eat at Anthony’s Pizza. We were very excited when we heard we won.

    When I got to Anthony’s Pizza, my team was just playing tag outside. I was sitting at the table with my friends. We were just talking until the pizza arrived. When we got the pizza, we were happy to eat the pizza. Then we got our photograph taken at Anthony’s, and it was hung on the wall.

    When we were done eating, we just hung out for awhile outside, and then we all left and went home.

    The end.


    About My Community, by Nya

    Hi, my name is Nya and I live in the neighborhood of Mt. Oliver. I’m going to share with you about my community.

    To me, my community means to share common habits and interests with others around me.

    This is what I treasure about my community. I care about my family, population, and litter. I want to protect animals, people, and my family.

    To help care for my community I can help on Earth Day. I can use bottles that can be used again, and I can support others by saying nice words: “Awesome,” “You did great,” and “Nice job.”

    To help take care of myself, I can get more sleep, study, and practice my clarinet more often. That’s what I need to do more.

    Thanks for listening.


  2. Eden-Hall Gifted Sixth-Graders Propose New Uses for an Old Building

    Fifty-one gifted sixth-graders at Eden Hall Upper Elementary School in the Pine-Richland School District learned much about resilience and perseverance in completing their work for PHLF’s Fifth Annual Sustainable Design Challenge this spring. The Design Challenge is a collaboration of PHLF and Chatham University’s Eden Hall campus, where the curriculum and daily life revolve around environmental sustainability. It was supported this year by the McSwigan Family Foundation Fund of The Pittsburgh Foundation.

    The subject of this year’s Design Challenge was the Morledge House Garage, a wood-frame, Dutch gambrel-roofed building of about 550 square feet located on the Eden Hall Campus, not far from the elementary school. After a tour of the Eden Hall campus and an opportunity to examine and document the Garage last October, the students were given their task: to convert it into a place for the community to gather and learn about the Campus’s mission and activities. Working in 12 teams, the students were encouraged to “think big,” pursue ideas that excite and inspire them, and transform those ideas into building uses that are meaningful to them. Their final designs were to be captured in architectural models they would present to a panel of jurors for review and critique at the beginning of May.

    Projects were well underway when COVID-19 slammed the brakes on life as we know it. Having left their drawings and other working materials behind when the school closed on March 20, the students were forced to reconstruct their projects from memory. The teams continued to work on-line from home; without their models and drawings, however, they had to convey their ideas through slide presentations, using only words and allusive pictures.

    Despite the difficult circumstances, the students produced a wonderfully rich stew of imaginative ideas for transforming the Morledge House Garage. Among the new functions they envisioned:

    • a place for re-selling used clothing and books, and an organic community garden;
    • a center for teaching marketable skills like sewing, auto repair, and cooking, together with an art studio and garden;
    • a survival camp where hands-on activities teach participants how sustainability connects to nature;
    • a “Healthy Hearts Community Center,” with library, yoga studio, maker space, and bike rental and repair shop;
    • a building with indoor and outdoor zones for a variety of activities designed to help people with disabilities; and
    • a center for the study of butterflies, color, and air quality, with a café selling seasonal fruits.

    The students’ extensive research was evident in the numerous sustainable materials and other elements their projects incorporated. Cork flooring, aluminum interior walls, solar exterior paint, roof gardens, bicycle-generated electricity, book cases constructed from dead trees found on the site, a chair re-purposed from a grocery cart, and natural illumination were among the strategies the students employed to maximize their projects’ sustainability. And as several teams pointed out, the most sustainable aspect of their work was re-using the historic building.

    “I’m always amazed at how quickly students in our design programs ramp up to an understanding of architectural ideas. We kind of throw them in the deep end and say, ‘OK, kids, here’s your assignment. Have at it!’ What they produced was thoughtful and sophisticated,” said Tracy Myers, co-director of education. The jury, comprised of architects, specialists in sustainability, and PHLF staff, agreed, noting that they had previously been unaware of some of the materials the students proposed.

    Jennifer Kopach and Joanna Sovek, teachers at Eden Hall Upper Elementary who have been involved with the Design Challenge since its first year at the school, said, “We are incredibly proud of our 6th-grade students. We talk about resiliency all the time. These students showed resiliency and perseverance. Their positivity and success provided closure and a sense of accomplishment.  We are so happy their hard work paid off and excited for them as they begin their next adventure.”

    A lesson for all of us as we continue to adapt to uncertainty and changing circumstances. Well done, kids!

  3. PHLF Provides Educational Resources to Pittsburgh Public School Teachers Through Its “Building Pride/Building Character” EITC Program

    Thanks so much for calling in to our meeting this morning and sharing your knowledge of Pittsburgh with our students! … As you know, today would have been our Pittsburgh tour. The “Building Pride/Building Character” trolley tour is one of the experiences in third grade that is most impactful for our students. We’ve been doing our best to give them a “virtual Pittsburgh” experience, but having your passion with us today was exactly what we needed!
    ––Third-grade teachers, Pittsburgh Dilworth, May 14, 2020

    Louise Sturgess, PHLF’s education advisor, participated in an on-line classroom discussion with third-grade students from Pittsburgh Dilworth on May 14. The teachers were leading a virtual tour of Pittsburgh on the date that PHLF originally had scheduled for the student’s “Building Pride/Building Character” trolley tour.

    “Our education staff is eager to stay in touch with all the teachers and students who usually participate with us in exploring the Pittsburgh region,” said Louise, “so it was a wonderful opportunity to meet virtually with Pittsburgh Dilworth’s third-grade students.”

    Please contact Sarah Greenwald, PHLF’s co-director of education, to receive the play, “How Pittsburgh Came to Be,” or educational resources about the Strip District, or about famous Pittsburghers for whom some notable local places are named: H. J. Heinz and Henry J. Heinz II; David L. Lawrence; Rachel Carson; Andy Warhol; Roberto Clemente; August Wilson; and Franco Harris.

    “Since PHLF is not able to offer its trolley tours and walking tours at this time, our staff is making these educational resources available to teachers to use with students in their on-line classrooms,” said Sarah.

    We thank the McSwigan Family Foundation Fund of The Pittsburgh Foundation and corporate donors for generously contributing to our educational programs so they are affordable––or provided at no cost to the Pittsburgh Public Schools, thanks to the state’s Educational Improvement Tax Credit (EITC) Program.

  4. PHLF Scholarship Committee Awards Scholarships and Honorable Mentions to 19 College-Bound Students––the most in any one year

    “Our Landmarks Scholarship Committee really stepped up this year, since the quality of applications was so impressive and since the need was especially great during these challenging times,” said David Brashear, chair of the committee and founder of PHLF’s Scholarship program.

    Thanks to the generosity of committee members, and with support from the Brashear Family Named Fund, the McSwigan Family Foundation Fund of The Pittsburgh Foundation, and the Landmarks Scholarship Fund, the committee was able to award 3 new scholarships, each with a maximum value of $6,000 payable over a four-year period, and 16 honorable mention awards, a one-time award of $250.

    “Our Scholarship Committee will host a virtual meeting to welcome and meet our 19 new award recipients,” said Louise Sturgess, PHLF’s education advisor, “and many of our former recipients will join us to add their words of congratulation.” Since the program’s inception in 1999, PHLF has awarded 79 scholarships and 30 honorable mentions, thereby connecting with 109 high-achieving, community-oriented young people who care deeply about the Pittsburgh region. This is a fantastic achievement that brings new life, commitment, and energy to our organization.

    “We welcome contributions from members and friends in this, our 22nd anniversary year, to support our very successful program that has a profound and lasting impact on the students it has served and on PHLF,” said Mr. Brashear. Please click here to contribute and direct your gift to “Scholarship Programs.” Thank you!

    Our Scholarship Committee is pleased to announce the following winners:

    2020 Scholarship Recipients (a $6,000 award, payable over four years, for book and tuition expenses)

    • Abigail Alexander (Fox Chapel Area/George Washington University);
    • David Dean (Central Catholic/Duquesne University); and
    • Samuel Zlotnikov (Pittsburgh Allderdice/University of Pittsburgh).

     2020 Honorable Mention Recipients (a one-time award of $250 for book and tuition expenses)

    • Aaron Berger (Pittsburgh Allderdice/Harvard College);
    • Christoph Bernas (Bishop Canevin/Penn State University);
    • Laura Brodkey (Pittsburgh Allderdice/University of Pennsylvania);
    • Zeinah Browne (Oakland Catholic/Spelman College);
    • Ryan Carter (South Fayette/Indiana University of Pennsylvania);
    • Miranda Chrvala (Avonworth/Savannah College of Art and Design);
    • Mac Duda (Thomas Jefferson/Princeton University);
    • Charles Forster (Pittsburgh Allderdice/Oberlin College);
    • Molly Hoffman (Bethel Park /Gettysburg College);
    • Makaila Holston Smith (Pittsburgh Obama/Penn State University);
    • Daniel Krill (Pine-Richland/University of Notre Dame);
    • Daevan Mangalmurti (Pittsburgh Obama/Yale University);
    • Caroline Maxwell (Eden Christian Academy/LaRoche University);
    • Phoebe Morrill (Quaker Valley/Penn State University);
    • Lydia Thomas (Pittsburgh Obama/University of Pittsburgh); and
    • Allison Weidmann (Thomas Jefferson/The Ohio State University).

    Congratulations to all!

    We encourage all applicants to stay in touch with PHLF, through their complimentary four-year membership, since they value historic preservation and our built environment. We appreciate the time and effort that each applicant took to submit an essay, high school transcript, college-acceptance letter, and two letters of recommendation. Each applicant did a tremendous job under the circumstances and we are grateful they connected with PHLF. We look forward to building relationships with all the applicants, scholarship winners, and honorable mention recipients.

  5. New Walking Tour Explores the Legacy of Vanguard Women in Downtown Pittsburgh

    The Fort Pitt Block House, the only surviving defensive structure of the five that were built in 1764 to protect Fort Pitt, is one stop on a new walking tour that traces the stories of bold Pittsburgh women who helped shape the City’s history and architecture.

    PHLF Education staff continue to work at home to ensure that when we receive permission to resume normal operations, we can bring you our typically varied slate of tours. In the meantime, we have invited docents to write about new tours they developed for 2020. Here, Debbie Edwards and Jo Ellen Aleshire tell us about their tour “Out of the Parlor: Women Trailblazers and Game Changers Downtown.”

    The Fort Pitt Block House is well known as Pittsburgh’s oldest building. Perhaps less well-known is the fact that, but for the intervention of a formidable group of women, the Block House would have been destroyed in the late 19th century. In saving the building in 1907, the local chapter of Daughters of the American Revolution thwarted powerful capitalist interests and successfully lobbied the Pennsylvania legislature to enact one of the State’s earliest preservation laws.

    We share enthusiasm for the hidden stories of women’s history, and as we started researching these stories, we were surprised to learn of locations Downtown where important events in the evolution of women’s roles took place. For example, the site of the Union Trust Building today was the terminus of an important parade for women’s suffrage that wound through Downtown in May 1914. Construction of Union Trust started just months later, so the land was vacant at the time of the parade. It’s fascinating to think of the 30 speakers and a crowd of marchers occupying that site, agitating for a right that would finally become a reality in 1920.

    “Out of the Parlor” focuses on the late 19th and early 20th centuries, when women were moving out of the domestic sphere and into the wider world—not only claiming the right to vote, but also entering previously male-dominated professions. We think telling stories about these women and visiting some of the physical spaces their lives touched is a good way to commemorate the 2020 centennial of the 19th Amendment to the federal constitution, giving the vote to American women. For PHLF, it’s also an interesting way to consider history’s role in creating meaningful places.

    “Out of the Parlor: Women Trailblazers and Game Changers Downtown” will be offered in August and September. Stay tuned for additional information when PHLF’s programs return.

  6. Educational Activities for Children at Home

    Take time to observe and draw the buildings around you, and share your masterpiece with PHLF. Together, we can create a virtual quilt! E-mail your drawing to or share it with us on social media using the handle @renewingcommunities, hashtag #phlf, or #pittsburghhistory&landmarksfoundation.

    Ever wondered what gargoyles and grotesques are? Have you noticed where they live in Pittsburgh? Have you thought about what creates a lively and fun main street? What would your house or apartment look like if an artist painted it?  Through the many educational resources available on our website, learners of any age can engage with the world from the comfort of their home, learning more about architecture, history, math, art, and science through the historic buildings which are the fabric of our neighborhoods.

    To find out what grotesques are and where they live, go on a Downtown Dragons VIRTUAL TOUR! Through this fun-filled tour, learners can explore the many creatures carved in stone which live on Pittsburgh’s buildings. In the process, the history of Pittsburgh comes alive!

    If you miss walking down the historic main streets of Pittsburgh, you can still learn all about the concept of our MAIN STREETS through fact sheets, fun quizzes, and more!

    Using pencils, crayons, markers, charcoal, paint––whatever materials desired! ––you can draw your home! Look closely at the details that give character to your home. If you involve your children in this activity, ask them to identify the shapes and colors that they see. What shape is their house/apartment? What shape are the windows and doors? Is their home attached to another home or does it stand alone? Is their home part of a larger building? If so, where is it located on the building? Be sure to initial your artwork, and share a picture of the final masterpiece on Facebook or Instagram tagging PHLF @renewingcommunities, or #phlf, or #pittsburghhistory&landmarksfoundation.

    More of our resources for at-home learners are listed below:

    Architecture and Body-building

    DRAW your neighborhood as you learn English and Spanish!

    STEAM materials: at-home trivia cards, word problems based on Pittsburgh’s historic bridges and buildings, historic Pittsburgh images, timelines, French and Indian War geography, Kennywood simple art activities, and more can be found here.

    Architecture Bingo (In Spanish/En espanol!) for the more advanced Spanish student.

    Historic Preservation Word Search (In Spanish/En espanol!)

    Architecture, the Building Art

    The more advanced learner can take in Architectural Historian Albert Tannler’s thought-provoking articles on significant architectural topics relevant to anyone living in the Pittsburgh region HERE.

    Visit our ONLINE GALLERY of past education programs to see examples of some of these resources and for more inspiration.

    If you have questions about how to implement these ideas, please contact Sarah Greenwald, PHLF’s co-director of education at, and share your stories of connection with us on social media!

  7. “Building Memories” Encourages Young People to Value Buildings and Themselves

    Pictured above is a collage of student’s work exploring the buildings of Rodef Shalom and Beth Shalom congregations, as well as plants from Rodef Shalom’s Biblical Botanical Garden.

    “Bravery is an act of courage.”
    “Bravery is doing something even though you are scared.”
                                            —“Building Memories” students

    “Every day, we build memories. The places we use, the people we meet, and our experiences combine to create these memories. This concept formed the basis for a group of students to explore how the places of Jewish life in Pittsburgh reflect values (like bravery and spirituality), and help us create beautiful memories using both these values and the buildings in our communities,” said Sarah Greenwald, PHLF’s co-director of education and the class instructor. This spring rotation elective was taught as a part of Congregation Beth Shalom and Congregation Rodef Shalom’s Joint Jewish Education Program.

    “Building Memories” used art-based activities, talks with community leaders and virtual visits to important buildings in Pittsburgh’s Jewish community to give students the chance to develop a sense of belonging, strengthen their values, and build new memories.

    Due to the COVID-19 precautionary public health measures, this class met once at Rodef Shalom and twice remotely. Students learned about architectural landmarks in Pittsburgh’s Jewish community, thanks to Martha Berg, Archivist at Rodef Shalom, and Eric Lidji, Director of the Rauh Jewish Archives at the Heinz History Center.

    The students worked diligently from home to complete an art-based activity. After watching a video about the history and design of Beth Shalom and Rodef Shalom congregations, they wrote a poetic sentence about the building. Rabbi Jeremy Markiz of Beth Shalom congregation was featured in the video. PHLF’s education staff created the video, thanks to support from the McSwigan Family Foundation Fund of The Pittsburgh Foundation.

    “I’m so sad this elective is over and hope we do something like this in the years to come at our synagogue,” wrote one student.

    “I am proud of these students for working so hard to balance their education remotely during a time of great uncertainty, and I look forward to a time when we can learn more about important buildings in Pittsburgh’s Jewish community, in person,” said Sarah Greenwald.

  8. Apply for a Landmarks Scholarship in April

    For the twenty-second year, thanks to funding support from PHLF’s Brashear Family Named 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 deadline to apply is April 21, 2020. Applications can be downloaded HERE, and applicants can learn more about the eligibility requirements and criteria by clicking here.

    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.

    As part of the Landmarks Scholarship application, students are asked to describe in an essay a place in Allegheny County especially important in their life; these essays­–all archived at PHLF–show how our scholarship has helped future preservationists, architects, designers, and planners realize 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!

Pittsburgh History & Landmarks Foundation

100 West Station Square Drive, Suite 450

Pittsburgh, PA 15219

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