806 Western Ave, Pittsburgh, PA 15233

Letter from the President – January 2019

On behalf of the incoming AWCC Executive Board I’d like to wish everyone a Happy New Year! It’s looking like another exciting year in our neighborhood and the Board members are ready to get to work.

We want to acknowledge exiting Board Members – Elaine Stone, Tim Zinn, Carol Gomrick, Fran Barbush and Dan Adam – and thank them for their many hours of service to AWCC and their efforts working with new Board members to ensure a smooth transition. John Desantis will continue on the AWCC Executive Board as Past President, but deserves a particular mention and thank you for his work as President over the past two years. John obviously is passionate about our neighborhood, he has generously given his time and knowledge, as well as his home, to protect and advance the neighborhood vision. This is true not only of his recent term as President, but for many years before and many to come – thank you, John!

During the transition to the new year and new board there are ongoing projects that will need AWCC involvement without a pause. A couple examples of these are CCAC’s proposed new Workforce Development Center and the Southern Norfolk Railroad raised tracks proposal. As the 2019 Housing and Planning Chair, Ashley Webb will have a lot on his plate and will look to us for input and support.

Cathy Serventi, 2019 AWCC Treasurer, is another Board Member with a full plate right away. The beginning of the year marks the beginning of the budgeting process. This year, Cathy and the Finance Committee will be working on ways to make this process, and the subsequent financial reporting, a little clearer and easier to understand.

Allegheny West Civic Council budget, non-budget expenditures, support or non-support of projects affecting us, to name a few examples, is determined by vote of the membership. I would encourage everyone to become familiar and participate so that the voice of Allegheny West truly reflects the majority of residents in Allegheny West.

Allegheny West Civic Council membership meetings take place on the second Tuesday of each month at 7:30 pm at Calvary Church. With everything else in our lives, it’s hard to allocate time for neighborhood meetings – can you make every other meeting? One a quarter? What do you need to stay up-to-date on the things you’re concerned about? I’d love to hear from you – drop a note to and let me know what you’re thinking. Keep in mind though, you have to attend a meeting and vote to have your opinion officially counted.

Ann Gilligan
President, AWCC

AWCC Membership Meetings – January 8, 2019

Calvary United Methodist Church, 971 Beech Ave
Tuesday, January 8sup>th at 7:30 pm

  • Visitors
  • New Neighbors & Guests
  • Minutes
  • Treasurer’s Report
  • Membership
  • Ways and Means
  • Friends of Allegheny West
  • Property
  • Housing and Planning
  • Northside Leadership Conference
  • Other Business (Old & New)

Come Out to Support New Businesses in Allegheny West

There have been some changes in the neighborhood over the last month. Since the beginning of December, two new businesses have opened on Western Avenue – Adda Coffee & Tea House and Refucilo Winery.

Adda is a Bengali word that refers to an intellectual exchange amongst members of a group; the place of ritual meeting and/or conversation of a group of people. It’s also the namesake of Adda Coffee & Tea House (at 926 Western Avenue), a cozy, welcoming spot that offers a variety of coffee, tea, and other beverages as well as baked goods and other snacks to accompany them. The space has been completely redesigned, and is bright and cheerful – a perfect antidote to a cold Pittsburgh winter. Stop in and treat yourself. Hours: Monday-Friday 7:00 am to 4:00 pm , Saturday & Sunday, 8:00 am to 4:00 pm.

Refucilo Winery (at 907 Western Avenue) opened in mid-December. Another complete remodel of a previously vacant building resulted in a beautiful, warm environment, perfect for sampling wines from Argentina. They feature wines from the Uco Valley of Mendoza, Argentina, and selections include Malbec, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Sauvignon Blanc, and Torrontes. Small plates are also available to accompany the wines. Refucilo is closed on Monday and Tuesday, open 3:00 pm to 9:00 pm, Wednesday and Thursday, 12:00 pm to 10:00 pm on Saturdays, and 12:00 P.M. to 6:00 pm on Sunday.

Please come out and support these new businesses, as well as our other local businesses!

Food Pantry Brunch Challenge at New Hazlett Theater

We all know Grandma can make a delicious meal from whatever she finds in the pantry. But can some of Pittsburgh’s top chefs create a delicious brunch using only items distributed in a community food pantry or soup kitchen? You be the judge at the third annual Food Pantry Brunch Challenge. The Northside Common Ministries Community Food Pantry hosts 10 local chefs in this one of a kind challenge, and you get to enjoy the delicious results.

In addition to brunch, also enjoy local music from Ishtar and Ortner-Marcinizyn, or even take a belly-dancing lesson. Tickets are only $25. Proceeds from this event benefit the programs of the Northside Common Ministries, who have been providing help to the hungry and homeless for over 30 years.

For tickets, call (412) 323-1163.

Tree Recycling

Submitted by Mark Fatla

Last year, City added a drop-off at Sue Murray Pool in Deutschtown and Brian O’Neill, myself and several volunteers drove around in Becky Coger’s pick-up truck collecting trees and dropping them off for recycling. Interest was strong and the City has greatly expanded the program to cover the whole City!

And Northside gets a new drop-off at Jack Stack Pool.

Trees are mulched instead of going to landfill. Folks will have to take the trees to the drop-off points – Brian and I are not available this year for curbside pick-ups – but the two locations are reasonably convenient. In the East End, a Girl Scout Troop does curbside pick-ups, so if anyone knows any volunteers who want to pick up that job, lemme know!

Another Success Story for our Annual Christmas Tour

Submitted by Carol Gomrick

The chill in the air did not deter guests from attending nor their spirit during the 2018 Christmas Tour. This year was a tremendous success. We sold over 1,500 tour tickets and over 300 train tour tickets. The tour boasted a special treat for several groups Saturday afternoon when the president of CCAC, Dr. Quintin B. Bullock, came into his office and allowed guests to view the grandeur of the Byers wing of Byers Hall. Quite often guests shared how excited they were about the homes on the tour and what a great experience they had visiting our neighborhood. The showing of Byers Hall made real for so many the history they hear on the tour about the once magnificent Millionaires’ Row and a greater appreciation of how important is is to not lose any more of our history.

As many know as recently as mid-November, we were a few homes shy and running out of options. Once again the neighborhood came together to bring Christmas early to so many. I really need to express a special thanks to the homeowners who are the the real heroes. The Moore and Beer families, the Malakoffs, Hal and Nick, and of course John DeSantis – thank you for your hard work and welcoming so many people (and a dog) into your homes! Special thanks to Amelia Beer. Several tour groups were treated to and impressed by Amelia’s violin playing.

The tour guides were incredible again this year! So many guests shared with me how knowledgeable and engaging or guides were this year. I received a special email from one attendee “Sally”. She was so impressed with Thomas Huygens she just had to share her impression – “Outstanding 2018 tour … Our guide a young man named Thomas was absolutely fabulous. He was very conscientious about all aspects of the tours … thank you for making our 11th tour one of the best ever!” High praise indeed especially for a veteran tour guest like Sally and knowing the bar is high with all of the other tremendous docents!

Thank you to Rev Larry, Martin, and Doug for all of their efforts at Calvary. It makes such a difference to have such a welcoming place to greet the guests!

This is my last tour as Ways and Means chair. The baton is being handed over to the capable hands of Annette Trunzo. So many of you have been incredibly generous with your time and support over the past two years, there are no words to express my heartfelt thanks. The tours with all of their twists and turns never fail to remind me of how blessed I am to be a part of such a wonderful community and though my term as Ways and Means has come to an end, I look forward to staying involved with the tours in 2019.

Happy New Year to you all and congratulations on completing another successful tour season!

Letter from the President – November 2018

As this month we will be electing a new slate of officers to serve the AWCC in the coming year, it’s a good time to pay attention to the single most distinctive aspect of our small but mighty community organization. Among the City of Pittsburgh’s 88 neighborhoods, nearly all of them have a civic organization which attempts to serve the needs of those who live and work there. Allegheny West is distinguished by having one of the oldest, most effective, and most consistently stable of these.

When our Nominating Committee meets each year to assemble a proposed slate of officers and committee chairpersons for the following year, the task can be formidable. In some city neighborhoods, there are more than 10,000 residents – that’s a considerably larger pool of prospective volunteers than our tiny population of roughly 400. And yet, year after year, we not only have folks who are willing to serve – they routinely do so as if it were their full-time paying job. Donating their time and talent to their neighbors, they embrace the opportunity to continue moving us forward.

Many decades ago, AWCC created an organizational structure that includes two-year term limits for all offices. This creates challenges in finding volunteers of course, when every office has to turn over at least every other year. But it also prevents president-for-life-type dynasties that can often plague small groups. And most importantly, it forces AWCC to constantly be welcoming and developing new leadership from throughout the community. Most of our new officers for 2019 were not even in Allegheny West ten years ago; some not five years ago. That is a VERY healthy sign for any neighborhood organization.

At the same time, the core of our institutional memory is the large number of long-time members – many of whom have served as officers in the past – who show up for every meeting to make sure that we stay on track. The continued commitment of these active mentors makes it possible for new leadership to comfortably move ahead without fear of making critical missteps. These Members are a living blueprint of what we’re doing and why we’re doing it.

When folks from other community organizations look at Allegheny West and its many successes, they frequently ask how we manage to do this so well – year after year, decade after decade. The answer is anything but simple. We have been blessed for many decades with an amazing stream of volunteers who step up as newcomers, serve admirably and often in multiple positions across the years, and then remain committed to assuring that their successors have strong support and guidance. Our greatest blessing is a small but dedicated band of devoted neighbors who make their community a lifelong priority. Next time you see one of them, tell them “Thank You!”

John DeSantis
President, AWCC

AWCC Membership Meetings – November 13, 2018

Calvary United Methodist Church, 971 Beech Ave
Tuesday, November 13th at 7:30 pm

  • Visitors
    • Councilwoman Harris’s Office
    • Mayor Peduto’s Office
    • Representative Wheatley’s Office
    • Zone One Police
    • Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy
  • New Neighbors & Guests
  • Minutes
  • Treasurer’s Report
  • Membership
  • Ways and Means
    • 2018 Alleys, Axles & Ales (September 29) – Final Report
    • Christmas Candlelight House Tour (December 7-8)
  • Friends of Allegheny West
  • Property
  • Housing and Planning
    • Allegheny Commons Proposed Implementation Plan
    • CCAC New Building: Ridge at Brighton
    • Western Avenue Revitalization, Electric
    • Light of Life Ridge Avenue Project
    • Expansion of Historic District
    • Historic District Enforcement Issues (old cases)
    • Comprehensive Guidelines for New Construction on Vacant Sites
    • Airbnb Issues/Impacts on AW
    • Railroad Bridge Replacements, Double Stack Train Impacts
  • Northside Leadership Conference
  • Nominating Committee
    • Election of Officers for 2019
  • Other Business (Old & New)

Holiday Concert at Holmes Hall

The Renaissance City Winds return to Allegheny West on Saturday, November 24th, offering their annual presentation of beautiful music in the elegant ballroom of Holmes Hall on Brighton Road.

The program of classical chamber music, performed as intended in a setting much more intimate than a concert hall, will also include holiday selections and other pieces which paint musical pictures, surrounded by the art and architecture of Victorian America.

For more than forty years, the Renaissance City Winds have brought the world’s finest chamber music compositions to life in both live concerts and widely acclaimed recordings. Their annual performance at Holmes Hall is followed by an artists reception and special visit to the antique toy train museum on the upper floors of the mansion. This year’s event will also mark the 150th birthday of Holmes Hall itself, whose builder Letitia Caldwell Holmes purchased the property facing the Allegheny Commons in November of 1868.

The November 24th concert will begin at 8:00 pm, and tickets are available online at or by phone at (412) 681-7111. Regular concert prices are $20, seniors are $15 and students are $10.

Thanks All Around

Submitted by Trish Burton

Thanks to Diane and Tony Caruso and to Carol Gomrick for helping me last Saturday to pull out the parklet annuals and prepare the garden for next spring’s planting. Hot coffee from Mayfly Market on Arch Street helped us battle the cold and rain!

A special thanks to Tony Caruso for all of the help he’s provided this year to beautify Western Avenue: digging up and transplanting shrubs and grasses; wrestling with broken hoses; hauling and spreading many bags of mulch; bagging huge amounts of debris — and remembering to drag those bags to the curb on Sunday nights for trash collection!

And we can’t forget the constant care that Dr. Dan provides each week so that we have much less litter on all of our streets. Thank you, Dan!

Looking forward to seeing you all in the spring when we begin work again on the neighborhood green spaces.