Events · historic preservation

Two Important Preservation Events This Week – Saving Sacred Spaces & Conversation About East Liberty & North Side

Here are two fully verified events this week that may be of interest to the Friends of Albright Community. Albright will be featured on one of the panels at the Saving Sacred Spaces Summit on Thursday.

Thursday, March 23 – Saving Sacred Spaces Summit

Join the Young Preservationists Association as we welcome Partners for Sacred Places, The Steeple Project, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, and other community leaders to discuss and develop a narrative to help save abandonded and neglected sacred spaces in our region. Our panel of experts will describe how other communities have found new purposes for these architectural gems.

Refreshments will be available as well as a cash bar. $5 donation appreciated.

Friday, March 24 – PAST TENSE | FUTURE PERFECT: Identifying Community Preservation needs in East Liberty & North Side

How do we shape the future of our historic resources in East Liberty and the North Side, two neighborhoods significantly and irreversibly impacted by Mid-Twentieth Century Urban Renewal? Are the vestiges of Urban Renewal worth preserving? How do we protect our communities and their identity?

The Boards of Preservation Pittsburgh and the East Liberty Valley Historical Society, along with moderator Don Carter, FAIA, FAICP, LEED AP, invite you to participate in the discussion of these issues and more.

Go click here to learn this reversal pattern today.

Thanksgiving Eve Dinner

Thank You for Making the 2016 Albright Thanksgiving Dinner a Success!

A long overdue update on the Albright Community Thanksgiving-eve dinner.  A HUGE thank you to everyone who helped to make this year’s dinner a success. We served dinner to over 200 neighbors from across the city. Over 100 volunteers helped to cook, serve, set tables, and clean up after the meal. It was a true community effort.

Supports of the 2016 Thanksgiving-eve dinner include:

  • First United Methodist Church for donating the use of their kitchen and social hall.
  • Volunteers
  • Donors – thank you to the 25 people who donated to the Albright GoFundMe Page
  • Eat N’Park for the generous donation of Smiley Cookies
  • Breadworks for the generous donation of assorted rolls for the meal.

A photo from the dinner was included in the Thanksgiving day edition of the Post-Gazette.


Some photos from the day:

Click here to watch the timelapse from the 2016 dinner.
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Thanksgiving Eve Dinner

Wed. 11/23/16 – Albright Thanksgiving-Eve Dinner

This year’s Dinner will be held on Wednesday, November 23, 2016 at First United Methodist Church, 5401 Centre Avenue, 15232. (Just down the block from the Albright Church Building).

The Albright Community Thanksgiving-Eve dinner is more than making sure everyone has some turkey and stuffing to eat on Thanksgiving day (many folks take home an extra meal in a to-go box), but it is an opportunity for people, neighbors, from all over this city come and sit at the table together for food and conversation.

We need your help to make the 2016 dinner a success. Please consider making a contribution to help pay for the costs of the meal. Volunteers are needed to help cook and serve as well.


Friends of Albright Updates

City Council Hearing on Historic Designation for Albright Scheduled for Mon. July 25

Albright-take-action (1)Pittsburgh City Council has scheduled a public hearing on the historic designation of the Albright Church building for Monday, July 25, 2016 at 2pm in City Council Chambers.

This is the LAST opportunity for the public to speak out in support of a historic designation for the building.

Here is how you can help:

1. Attend the Public Hearing & Speak in FAVOR of the historic designation

The public hearing in front of City Council is the last step in the historic designation process. We have had a great turn out for the past hearings and need to fill every seat in the room with Albright supporters.

  • IMPORTANT: If you are able to attend and you are willing to speak – please call the City Clerk at  412-255-2138 and ask to be listed as a speaker in FAVOR of historic designation.
  • Let us know you will attend and request a t-shirt here.

2. Contact your City Council Representative

Take a moment to send an email to your City Council representative and ask them to support the historic designation for the Albright Church Building. Please cc: so we can print a copy to bring to the hearing.

  • Bruce Kraus, Council President –
  • Reverend Ricky Burgess – reverend.burgess@pittsburghpa. gov
  • Daniel Gilman –
  • Natalia Rudiak – natalia.rudiak@pittsburghpa. gov
  • Darlene Harris – Darlene.Harris@pittsburghpa. gov
  • Deborah Gross –
  • Daniel Lavelle – daniel.lavelle@pittsburghpa. gov
  • Theresa Kail-Smith – Theresa.Kail-Smith@
  • Corey O’Connor –

3. Sign & Share Our Petition

If you have not yet signed the petition supporting Historic Designation for Albright, please sign the petition and share it with your friends. Click here to sign the petition!

4. Donate!

You can help support our efforts by making  a contribution to Friends of Albright through our fiscal sponsor, New Sun Rising. Funds will be used for t-shirt printing and legal costs associated with preserving the building.

Architecture of Albright · historic preservation

Akron Plan Churches and Albright

[Note: A member of the Albright congregation recently brought us some photos from and artifacts from the church. One of these photos led to a much larger conversation about church architecture and we have learned even more about how significant Albrigth is in terms of architectural history.]

Akron Plan Churches and Albright by John Conti

There are many variations of the Akron Plan, but it too, like the auditorium style church, is a product of the late 19th century, and they are often found together.  That is, many Akron Plan churches are also auditorium style – but not always.  The Akron plan was invented  – as it happens – at the First Methodist Church in Akron, Ohio in the 1860s-70s by a nationally-influential Methodist Sunday School superintendent named Lewis Miller along with his minister John Heyl Vincent.  (Miller and Vincent are also  famous as the founders of the Chautauqua Institution in new York State, which they started  as a training ground for Sunday School teachers and which is now something else entirely.)

The Akron plan is a perfect example of architecture being enlisted to support a teaching program and was used in literally thousands of churches —  mostly Methodist, but also Baptist, Presbyterian and Congregationalist.   They key idea was to have Sunday School rooms with moveable partitions clustered around a central space from which all the occupants of the room could be addressed.  There could be two (and sometimes three) tiers of such rooms.  The program that Miller and Vincent advanced was this:  The Sunday School superintendent or minister, speaking from the “superintendent’s platform” in that central space, or possibly from the pulpit or the floor  in smaller churches, would talk about the day’s topic for Sunday School study – perhaps an item of scripture. Then the partitions would be drawn and each class would engage in discussion of that topic. This would apply to all grades, and sometimes even to adult classes.  Each class would discuss the topic of the day at an age-appropriate level.  The platform would also be used for opening and, possibly, closing prayers.

This was a case of architecture being created to satisfy a particular teaching program, and it was very popular.  Sometimes the Sunday School space would be separate from the sanctuary. Sometimes the classrooms would adjoin the sanctuary.  Here’s a plan where the Sunday School rooms are in a separate space behind the sanctuary.  This, incidentally, is roughly what you’ll see if you go beyond the altar area at Calvary Methodist on the North Side:


In Albright’s case, the Sunday School rooms appear to have been in a curve around the back of the sanctuary.  In some churches, the rooms could be at the sides, which was also common. Here’s one with an assembly room and Sunday School rooms at the side:


I can’t find a good floor plan of a church with the rooms at the back, but I can tell you that the former Dormont Methodist Church had exactly that – two levels of Sunday School room fully adjacent to and opening to the sanctuary from the back.  All these qualify as Akron Plan churches.

The Akron Plan was falling out of favor by the 1930s.  In many Akron  Plan churches the moveable partitions have since been replaced by fixed partitions – separating them from the sanctuary.  Some of these rooms are of course still used for Sunday School, but in several places I’ve seen you find them converted to offices or storage.


Friends of Albright Updates · historic preservation

Tell the Planning Commission You Support Historic Designation for Albright

albright-mail-clipartIf you cannot attend the public hearing on Tuesday, May 3, 2016 (time, date & hearing location details are available here), you can send a letter supporting historic designation for the Albright Church building.

Over 40 letters of support in addition to 800 petition signatures were submitted to the Historic Review Commission for the March hearing. It is incredibly important to have the public support for historic designation documented.

Address letters to: Christine Mondor, Chair City of Pittsburgh Planning Commission

Submit by email: (Please cc City Councilwoman Deb Gross & on your emails.)

Send by mail: 200 Ross Street, Suite 309, Pittsburgh, PA 15219.  Continue reading “Tell the Planning Commission You Support Historic Designation for Albright”

historic preservation

Tue 5/3: Support Albright at Pgh Planning Commission Hearing


The next step in the Historic Designation process for the Albright church building is a public hearing in front of the City of Pittsburgh Planning Commission.

The public hearing on the Albright building is on the agenda for the Tuesday May 3, 2016 Planning Commission hearing. The agenda for the meeting is available online here. The presentation for the 5/3/2016 meeting, including the nomination for Albright is online here.

  • What: City of Pittsburgh Planning Commission Hearing
  • Date: Tuesday, May 3, 2016
  • Time: 2pm (meeting starts at 1pm, the hearing on Albright church building will not start until after 2pm)
  • Where: 200 Ross Street, 1st Floor Hearing Room

TAKE ACTION to Support Historic Designation for Albright!

  1. Attend the Pittsburgh Planning Commission Hearing and testify in SUPPORT of Historic Designation for Albright church building.
  2. Send a letter to the Planning Commission in SUPPORT of Historic Designation for the Albright church building.
  3. Sign our petition and share with your friends:

May 3, 2016 Planning Commission Agenda


P.S. Show your support on social media! Click to Tweet “.@PlanPGH I support Historic Designation for Albright! cc @BillPeduto @DebGrossPGH”

historic preservation · In the News

Albright Featured on The National Trust for Historic Preservation’s Instagram Account

National Trust for Historic Preservation
National Trust for Historic Preservation (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Last weekend, the young preservationists who attended of the Rust Belt Summit here in Pittsburgh stopped by to take a look at Albright and the National Trust for Historic Preservation shared the photo on the Saving Places Instagram account.

Thank you for helping to spread the word about our efforts to preserve the Albright Church building!  The orange flags says “This Place Matters” and are part of the The National Trust for Historic Preservation effort to promote historic preservation month. Use the #ThisPlaceMatters to share photos of Albright and your other favorite historic buildings on social media.

Rust Belt Coalition of Young Preservationists makes a stop at Albright during the Rust Belt Summit.

Help support historic designation efforts for the Albright church building by signing the petition here. (You can donate to Friends of Albright through our fiscal sponsor, New Sun Rising, here.)


Cram Jam: PHLF Tour of 3 Churches on Saturday, April 16

Albright was designed by the architect Chancey W. Hodgden, however many of the other churches in Pittsburgh’s East End were designed by architect Ralph Adams Cram.

This weekend, Pittsburgh History and Landmarks Association is hosting Cram Jam a Saturday afternoon tour of three of the churches designed by Cram.


Pittsburgh History & Landmarks Foundation—in conjunction with ELPC, St. Charles Lawanga Parish at Holy Rosary Church, and Calvary Episcopal Church—invites the public to participate in Cram Jam. The free event offers tours of three area churches designed by renowned architect Ralph Adams Cram. Explore and experience their remarkable beauty.

Church docents and PHLF staff will provide information and lead tours at each site. Within breathtaking architectural spaces, participants will see remarkable sculpture, stained glass, and woodwork by exceptional American craftsmen and artists. Please arrive at each church as follows:

  • 1 pm: St. Charles Lawanga Parish at Holy Rosary Church (1926–31), 7114 Kelly Street in Homewood
  • 2 pm: East Liberty Presbyterian Church (1930–35), 116 South Highland Avenue in East Liberty
  • 3:30 pm: Calvary Episcopal Church (1905–07), 315 Shady Avenue in Shadyside. Here, Philip Maye, chair of the Calvary Architectural History Committee, will unveil an interpretive plaque honoring architect Ralph Adams Cram; Al Tannler, PHLF’s historical collections director, will give brief comments about the architect; and Dr. Alan Lewis, organist, will perform the Passacaglia and Fugue in C Minor, by J. S. Bach. A wine-and-cheese reception will follow in the Parish Hall, concluding at 5:30 pm.

Participants must provide their own transportation (car, bus, bike) to each church. Each location is accessible by bus; call the Port Authority at 412.442.2000 for details. Reservations are appreciated by April 14. Contact either PHLF (; 412.471.5808 x527) or Calvary Episcopal Church (; 412.661.0120, x110).

More on the Cram Jam and the work of Ralph Adams Cram: