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806 Western Ave, Pittsburgh, PA 15233

Letter from the President – April 2017

So what are you doing on Tuesday evening?

Your neighbors will be gathering at 7:30 to find out what’s going on. They’ll also be making decisions about your neighborhood, and the larger community around us…decisions that affect you.

And – oh by the way – they’ll be having a good time: socializing and chatting and being, well, just neighborly! (And free refreshments help.)

You’re always welcome. It’s the second Tuesday of each month at 7:30 pm, in the Calvary Church social hall, on the corner of Beech and Allegheny (use the Beech Avenue entrance). The meeting’s usually over by 9:00 pm.

Don’t know most of your neighbors yet? All the more reason! Hope to see you Tuesday evening.

In April of 1962, the residents and business people of our community – not yet called “Allegheny West” – were surrounded on every side by an uncertain future. That a few of them were considering banding together for the general good was very bold indeed.

The “powers that be” in the city, county and state were basking in the glow of international media – hailed for “The Great Pittsburgh Renaissance”. The first of its kind in America, this unprecedented vision was even then transforming an industrial slum at the Point into a new state park and the gleaming silver office towers of Gateway Center. At the Melody Tent site in the Lower Hill District, a “residential slum” was giving way to a new entertainment acropolis – anchored by the newly opened Civic Arena, and soon to add concert halls and museums.

A new phrase had been coined right here: “Urban Renewal”. And already announced were the next two planned blockbusters: the extreme makeover of the East Liberty shopping district and the complete demolition and replacement of the former City of Allegheny town center. In each of these projects, hundreds of substantial buildings would be demolished to make room for an entire new city – formed in the image and likeness of the American suburb.

This new city rising on the Northside wasn’t limited to the former center of Allegheny. There were several big satellite projects that would extend this grand vision across all of the lower Northside. This new “suburb in the city” would have its very own interstate highway slicing east to west. The neighborhoods of Chateau on the west and Deutschtown to the east, along with the length of the Allegheny Commons park, would provide the highway’s route and right-of-way.

The neighborhood north of the Allegheny Commons park would be leveled and replaced with a vast complex of garden apartments. An immense public housing development would level and replace much of the Manchester neighborhood. And the land immediately to the west of the park would be divided between an industrial park along the highway and a county college campus.

Citywide, there were thousands of businesses and residents being displaced by eminent domain takings of entire neighborhoods. And nationwide the broadest public sentiment was enormously supportive of this concept. If the Smoky City could do it, anything was possible.

“Out with the old, in with the new.” And Pittsburgh was finally at the forefront of an important new urban movement.

But buried deep in those Master Planning blueprints were a handful of tiny streets. And on those streets, a few ordinary people had started looking for a way to be heard.

John DeSantis
President, AWCC

Neighborhood Cleanup

April 22nd is Earth Day, and Allegheny West will celebrate by holding its first clean-up day.

Meet at the Allegheny West office at 806 Western Avenue for coffee and breakfast treats and to gather some trash bags and gloves. If you have your own gloves, brooms, and tools, please bring them! Begin to look for areas in the neighborhood that need to be freshened after the winter. We’ll also have a group that will attack the leaves in the parklet at the corner of Brighton and Western.

Contact Trish Burton with any questions: tdburton3@gmail.com or (412) 523-9402. We’ll see you on the 22nd!

Allegheny West Wine & Garden, 2017

Submitted by Carol Gomrick

I’m pleased to share that we have secured the homes for the 2017 Wine and Garden Tour.

Holmes Hall (Tour Start) – 719 Brighton Road
Emmanuel Church – 957 W North Avenue
Elaine Stone and Mitchell Schwartz – 831 W North Avenue
Robert Johnson – 812 Beech Avenue
Diane and Tony Caruso (Thaw Mansion) – 930 N Lincoln Avenue
George and Mariana Whitmer – 838 N Lincoln Avenue
Q Development (Willock House) – 705 Brighton Road

This tour will be incredibly special this year due to a few historical connections between the properties. The Whitmer home and Emmanuel Episcopal Church were both designed by famed architect H. H. Richardson. Richardson is the architect who designed the Allegheny County Courthouse downtown and other famous properties throughout the US. Another connection is between Emmanuel Church and Thaw mansion. The altar was acquired in Europe by a relative of William Thaw who built Thaw mansion on N Lincoln. It is also rumored that the angels depicted in the altar are in the likeness of Evelyn Nesbit who was married to William’s notorious son, Henry Thaw.

We have received a few requests for volunteers to help property owners. Please email Carol Gomrick if you are interested in volunteer opportunities.

Our theme is a tour through Spain with several Spanish varietals and of course sangria. The food committee has been hard at work testing and pairing tapas. We have great selections for our guests. More to come!

A+ Schools Presentation

A+ LogoA+ Schools, an independent non-profit that advocates for improvement and equity in Pittsburgh Public Schools, will present their 2016 Report to the Community at our upcoming community meeting on Tuesday, April 11th at 7:30 pm. Similar to presentations done throughout the city, they will tailor the information specifically to schools serving our neighborhood in a PowerPoint presentation as well as have copies of the 2016 Report to the Community for all attendees.

A+ Schools’ work is mainly focused on (1) community organizing and advocacy to raise student, parent and community voices, (2) research on achievement, policies and student metrics in PPS, such as the annual Report to the Community and (3) monitoring of school board governance. More information is available on their web site at www.aplusschools.org.

Western Avenue Flower Baskets

Western Avenue will again be beautified through a collaboration between the Western PA Conservancy and generous neighborhood sponsors. We had 32 baskets last year and can easily accommodate double that number.

Please consider sponsoring a basket, regardless of where your house or business may be located. Renewals of previously-sponsored baskets will remain at $275/basket. New Sponsorships (first year) will be $325/basket, with a $30 signage fee.

Contact Trish Burton with any questions: tdburton3@gmail.com or (412) 523-9402.

Thank you for your support!

Letter from the President – March 2017

So what are you doing on Tuesday evening?

You could join (and meet!) your neighbors for a brief gathering, enjoy some light refreshments, learn what’s going on in your community and help steer us on the path forward.

On the second Tuesday of each month, you have the opportunity to learn what’s happening AND to have your voice heard about what we can all be doing to make life here in Allegheny West better in every way. We’re at Calvary Church, on the corner of Beech and Allegheny, at 7:30 pm — use the Beech Avenue entrance. Hope to see you this Tuesday!

On March 31 of 1962, Jane and Ross Johnson sent a letter to a few other property owners in the area of the Northside that we now call Allegheny West. Jane had been born right here in the neighborhood, only a short time after it had ceased to be the City of Allegheny.

She and Ross lived at 934 Western Avenue, and also operated Allegheny Real Estate, on the next block. They were raising their children here, and in the decades to come would sell houses to some of our community’s early pioneer “newcomers”.

Jane especially was able to see this area not for what it was, or even for what it had once been, but for what it could become. She had a talent for imparting that vision to others — including this writer when he bought his first house from her in 1977. She would ultimately remain active in the Allegheny West Civic Council — frequently as a member of the Executive Committee — well into the late 1980s.

When Jane passed away only a few years ago, she had lived to see her neighborhood far surpass anything that she could have imagined. From the perspective of the 21st Century, it was easy to understand that she and all of those who followed had succeeded most in attracting new believers — decade after decade — who would then take up the torch and forge ahead.

But in March of 1962, Jane and Ross wrote to their neighbors:

The lower Northside in the immediate years ahead will undergo a major transformation. But what impact will these major improvements have on our particular area…?

The Lincoln-Beech-West Park section of the Northside has some unusual, if not unique, characteristics. There is its proximity to downtown; its orientation to West Park — the spacious and attractive section of the Commons. Here are some of the best residential structures built in a previous era…many of real period and architectural character.

However, Lincoln-Beech is now a 75-year-old community with some structures that are not just old, but have been neglected and abused and can be regarded as substandard. Regrettably, we have developed a reputation as being a second-rate neighborhood, perhaps a reputation we in part deserve.

Can anything be done to effect a general improvement?

Our purpose in sending this informal letter to about a half-dozen property owners is to ascertain if they would favor that we make an organized effort to improve the area and, if so, would join us and add their signatures to send a similar statement and invitation to a larger representative group pointing toward an organization meeting.

Jane and Ross mailed their letter, and waited to see if anybody would respond to the call.

John DeSantis
President, AWCC

AWCC Membership Meeting Agenda – March 14, 2017

Calvary United Methodist Church, 971 Beech Ave
Tuesday, March 14th at 7:30 pm

  • Visitors
    • Councilwoman Harris’s Office
    • Mayor Peduto’s Office
    • Zone One Police
  • Introduction: Jake Bier, new proprietor of Benjamin’s
  • New Neighbors & Guests
  • Minutes
  • Treasurer’s Report
    • Finance Committee Volunteers Sought
  • Membership
    • Bowling at Elks
    • March Mixer
    • AWCC 55th Anniversary Celebration (May)
  • Ways and Means
    • Wine Tour Update
    • Update on Five Year Plan with Calvary
    • Dates for Other 2017 Events
  • Friends of Allegheny West
    • Green Space
  • Housing and Planning
    • Trucks Through the Neighborhood
    • Stadium Events: Parking and Traffic
    • MCC: Blocks bounded by Western, Allegheny, Ridge, Bridge
    • Western Avenue Revitalization
    • Light of Life: Ridge Avenue Project
    • Film Guidelines
    • Historic District Enforcement Issues
    • Medical Marijuana Dispensary
  • Northside Leadership Conference
  • Other Business

Business Spotlight: Northside Yoga

Submitted by Karen Beer

Northside YogaIn August 2016, Allegheny West welcomed a new yoga studio — Northside Yoga — at 845 Western Avenue. Owners Lyndsey Fullen and Katie Mogilski, both Northside residents, noticed the lack of yoga studios in the neighborhood. They wanted neighbors to be able to practice yoga without having to cross the bridge into Downtown. With help from Diane Mercer of the Northside Community Development Fund, they found a beautiful old building on Western Avenue, the former site of the Used Textbook Warehouse.

Lyndsey and Katie’s mission is to provide fitness-based yoga classes for all levels to the Northside and neighboring area residents. The classes at Northside Yoga include personal attention and aim to empower practitioners to lead happy, healthy, inspired lives. Additionally, Northside Yoga strives to enhance the surrounding community by offering regular karma classes and other events that benefit a Northside area charity.

Class in SessionEvery Sunday at 2:00 pm, Northside Yoga offers a “Karma” Class. The class is donation-based, pay what you can, and all proceeds benefit a local non-profit. So far, Lyndsey and Katie have been able to donate to the Humane Society, Light of Life and City of Asylum. Until April, this class benefits the Northside Food Pantry. They recommend securing a spot online in advance, as the class has been filling up!

For more information and class schedules, please visit northsideyogapgh.com, or follow on Facebook and Instagram (@northsideyogapgh).


Remember, if you’re a local business owner and you’d like to tell your business’s story, please send information about your business, its mission, how long you’ve been in Allegheny West, why you chose the neighborhood and any important events or future plans you’d like your neighbors to know about. When space allows, one business per month can be featured in the Gazette. It’s a great way for the neighbors to connect to and support local businesses – and it’s publicity for you. Email information to Karen at gazette@alleghenywest.org. Can’t wait to hear from you!

Casting Call for Vintage Homes in the Pittsburgh Area

The DIY Network is calling all homeowners with homes built before 1950. If you have a renovation project in the works, our professional team can help make it happen. We’re searching in the greater Pittsburgh area for couples and families that would like to complete a home renovation project before May or June 2017. Homeowners should already have the possible project mainly financed on their own. DIY Network will bring in experts to help with planning, work and budget. Please email your names, ages, contact info, a brief description of your project and photos of your home’s exterior, interior project and a recent family photo to laurenhoustoncasting@gmail.com. Interested applicants should respond ASAP.