Public Hearing on St. Mary’s Academy Building
PREPARED TESTIMONY OF
ANNE E. NELSON, ESQ.
PITTSBURGH HISTORY & LANDMARKS FOUNDATION
BEFORE HISTORIC REVIEW COMMISSION, CITY OF PITTSBURGH
PUBLIC HEARING ON ST. MARY’S ACADEMY BUILDING
CITY HISTORIC STRUCTURE NOMINATION
JULY 2, 2008
Pittsburgh History & Landmarks Foundation (Landmarks) strongly supports the nomination of the Academy Building of the St. Mary’s Church complex to become a City-Designated Historic Structure.
The St. Mary’s Academy Building was listed on the first county-wide architectural survey conducted in the United States, undertaken by Landmarks in 1966, and chosen as one of the buildings published in Landmark Architecture of Allegheny County Pennsylvania by James D. Van Trump and Arthur P. Ziegler, Jr. The Academy Building was also listed in 1979 in the second countywide survey of historic architectural sites conducted by Landmarks, in association with the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. It was chosen for inclusion as one of 600 out of the 10,000 surveyed in the major book based on this survey, Pittsburgh’s Landmark Architecture by Walter C. Kidney, published in 1997. Both Van Trump and Kidney consider the Greek Revival c. 1850 Academy Building a significant surviving example of an important American architectural style. Furthermore, its “curious ornamental cast iron porch” is “the sort usually associated with New Orleans or Mobile although once common too in the industrial North.”
In 1989 historian Roger Kennedy noted in his National Trust book Greek Revival America: “The Northern Greek Revival was at least as vigorous and diverse as that in the antebellum South; but all the great houses of the North … have fallen victim to that region’s industrial success.” This is also true of banks, courthouses, and modest Greek Revival structures like St. Mary’s Academy, and we should protect the limited number of survivors.
Of the buildings in the St. Mary’s Church complex, the Academy Building is not only the oldest, but is the most architecturally unique and should, therefore, be deemed a City-Historic Structure.