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.

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.)

Events · historic preservation

Rust Belt Coalition of Young Preservationists Comes to Pittsburgh this Weekend

rbcoyp-logoOne of the many groups that has been supportive of Friends of Albright has been the Young Preservationists of Pittsburgh. (YPA named Albright to their 2015 Top 10 list.) This weekend, April 8-10, 2016, the Young Preservations of Pittsburgh are hosting the Rust Belt Coalition of Young Preservationists here in Pittsburgh. Young preservationists from Buffalo, Indianapolis, West Virginia, and Ohio will be descending on the steel city to learn more about historic preservation in Pittsburgh and share ideas for best practices for historic preservation in the rust belt.

Learn more about the Rust Belt Coalition of Young Preservationists (RBCoYP)

Organizations Participating in the RBCoYP Summit:

RBCoYP Events You Can Attend

The entire RBCoYP schedule is included below. This group has put together an impressive array of events to show off the city of Pittsburgh. If you would like to join the Rust Belt Coalition, events on Sunday, April 10 are open to the public:

Rust Belt Coalition Pittsburgh Summit Events:

Friday, April 8, 2016 – Evening

Rust Belt Coalition of Young Preservationists Launch Party! & #BeerSavesPlaces Competition

With the help of the National Trust for Historic Preservation and the Mexican War Streets Society, the RBCoYP is launching the PGH Summit with a bang at the Inn on the Mexican War Streets Bed & Breakfast! The Inn is housed in the historic Boggs Mansion (1888) in Pittsburgh’s Northside.

Saturday, April 9, 2016 – Morning

A Mexican War Streets Walkabout, 10:30am – 1pm

Join all the Rust Belt Coalition Summit attendees for a walk around the Mexican War Streets, one of Pittsburgh’s favorite National Historic Districts.  The neighborhood dates back to 1848, around the time of the Mexican War, and many of the streets – Buena Vista, Monterey, Palo Alto, Resaca, Sherman, and Taylor – are named after battles or generals of the war. You’ll see some of the best examples of Pittsburgh row houses, wonderful community gardens, a firehouse that will be converted into a craft brewery, a sanctuary for endangered writers across the world, and a local gem known as Randyland.

Saturday, April 9, 2016 – Morning

Participants can choose one of these 3 tours:

  1. “Crossroads of the World”: A Hill District Foot Tour – From jazz musicians to photographers to playwrights, Pittsburgh’s Hill District neighborhood provided a cultural melting pot where artistic genius was fostered. Today, demolition by neglect and redevelopment threaten many culturally important sites throughout the Hill. Terri Baltimore, Director of Community Outreach at the Hill House Association, will take us on a walk through the neighborhood highlighting and telling stories about the buildings and (more importantly) the people of “Little Harlem.” Space for this tour is limited to 18 people, so register today!
  2. Northside -> Downtown -> Mt Washington Bike Tour – Downtown. Central Business District. Golden Triangle. Whatever you want to call it, we’re going to bike it! And when we’re finished, we’ll take a furnicular up to the top of Mount Washington and see the best-known view of the city. We’re renting bikes so you can leave yours at home, but don’t forget your bike helmet! You can expect to bike about 6 miles on this tour, and don’t worry – we’re staying in one of the few flat areas of Pittsburgh! Space for this tour is limited to 20 people, so register today!
  3. Steppin’ Out: An Urban Hike on the City Steps  – The system of Pittsburgh City Steps are the city’s most unique form of transportation, and offer some of the most stunning views of the surrounding areas. You can expect to hike and step about 3 miles on this adventure. We’ll end atWigle Barrelhouse and Whiskey Garden, where we’ll get a tour of the Barrelhouse and soon-to-open Ciderhouse. Many thanks to Young Preservationists Association of Pittsburgh for sponsoring the tour!

Sunday, April 10, 2016 – Morning