info@alleghenywest.org
806 Western Ave, Pittsburgh, PA 15233

Jane’s Tree

Submitted by John Canning

Jane's TreeWhile wandering through the Northside during this crazy spring of 2014, it was interesting to see how the sporadic weather shifts affected when trees and bulbs would transform the landscape from winter’s last gray days to scenes of green leaves and pastel blossoms. The one tree, that is a sure sign of springtime is the magnificent pink dogwood in the midst of the 800 block of Western Avenue. I know it as “Jane’s Tree,” and it speaks to me of community revitalization. Every year Jane’s tree is more beautiful than ever. It certainly was this year, and it made me think how fortunate it was for that skinny sapling that it came into the hands of Jane Johnson in the summer of 1963. That Dogwood and Jane Johnson are both symbols of survivors in an urban setting that, for many years, was not too friendly to trees at all, nor to urbanists that were committed to city living.

Jane Ford Johnson, presently a resident of the Allegheny apartment complex on the west side of Allegheny Center, has a terrific story to tell about saving trees, helping kids, raising a family and preserving a congregation and a community. Jane was a tree tender long before it was fashionable. She was a community activist when many of her neighbors in the 1960s were heading out of town. She and a few compatriots managed to hold the Calvary Methodist Church together when other Northside congregations were closing up shop.

A few weeks ago I enjoyed an enlightening and long overdue visit with Jane. She described her many residences in different sections of the Northside. In her lifetime Jane has lived in Brighton Heights, Calbride, Central Northside and Manchester. When Jane was a youngster, her family lived in the community we now call Perry Hilltop, where she played in and about the windowless remnant of Brashear’s original observatory.

In 1936, one of the lowest points of the Great Depression, Jane graduated from Allegheny High School and attended the Pittsburgh Academy, where she met and, shortly thereafter, married Ross Johnson. By the early 1950s, Jane, Ross and their growing family settled in the community that is now called Allegheny West. With urban redevelopment plans to level large sections of the Northside, Jane played a pivotal role in organizing the community—property owners and tenants alike to block such stupid initiatives. Jane has always been an activist, a doer.

I first met Jane in the late 1960s when she was overseeing the hanging of a memorial lamp to honor Cora Allison, a great soul of that congregation, in the altar area of Calvary Methodist church. A year or so later, Jane and I were neighbors and coworkers in the process of community restoration. Jane was the Jane Jacobs of Allegheny West.

Looking back on those decades in Allegheny West, I recall Jane as the tree tender, the keeper of the neighborhood story, the advocate for historic preservation and the stalwart of a congregation who kept singing as well as flipping pancakes and mashing potatoes. And so, every Spring, when that Dogwood at 833 Western Avenue is in full bloom, it is, to me, a wonderful reminder of a great Northside champion.

Get Ready for 2019 Tour and Tasting, featuring the Northside!

Submitted by Carol Gomrick

Tickets are on sale now for 2019 Tour and Tasting, and can be purchased at alleghenywest.org.

This year is shaping up to be one of the most unique and fun tours ever! The tour committee is thrilled to announce that we’ve been able to partner with local Northside businesses to bring an added taste to the plate this year. The tour is going to be a focus on the tastes of the Northside paired with exceptional wines. Below is a list of contributing businesses. They are supporting the tour, please make sure you support them!

  • Bier’s Pub
  • Brugge on North
  • Bistro-to-Go
  • Dreadnought Wines
  • Lola Bistro
  • Refucilo Winery

The tour is Friday June 21st and Saturday June 22nd. We still need one more home to be on the tour. If you are interested in being on the tour, please contact carolgomrick@gmail.com. We will be announcing a sign-up for tour guides, runners and other volunteer opportunities closer to the tour. The Burton’s have graciously opened their home again for the after party. Thanks John and Trish!

For all of you savvy social media users, please spread the word via twitter #tourandtasting! Please spread the word about this incredible event! CHEERS!

Host Families Needed

International Cultural Exchange Services is a non-profit organization that is seeking volunteers to become host families in and around the Pittsburgh area for international students this upcoming academic year! The students come from all over Europe, Asia and South America and would attend the high school in your area. Student will arrive mid-August and have their own spending money, insurance, great English skills and hands-on local support. All family dynamics are welcome and you do not need to have children to host! Make a student’s dream come true! For more information, please contact Yazmin Peña at ypena@icesusa.org or visit our website at www.icesusa.org.  

Letter from the President – April 2019

Historic Preservation is always a topic of discussion in Allegheny West and for good reason.

The Allegheny West Historic District was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1978. Allegheny West is one of twelve city historic districts in Pittsburgh. Each historic district has published guidelines that are designed to “help individual property owners formulate plans for the rehabilitation, preservation, and continued use of old buildings consistent with the intent of the Secretary of the Interior’s Standard for Rehabilitation.” These Guidelines for Historic Districts are available on the City of Pittsburgh website at pittsburghpa.gov/dcp/historic. Historic District maps are also available at this website, showing detailed boundaries of each district.

Because Allegheny West is a city historic district, all exterior work that is visible from a right of way, a street or an alley, needs a Certificate of Appropriateness (CoA), and, depending on the type of project, possibly a building permit. The Local Historic Review Commission (LHRC) and the Historic Review Commission (HRC) use the guidelines when reviewing appropriateness of proposed exterior alterations in designated historic districts.

Recent agendas for both the AWCC Membership and Housing and Planning meetings have included topics related to LHRC and HRC. Two notable items are a proposed expansion of the current Allegheny West historic district boundary and the Stables Building project on W North Avenue.

Because of these topics, because we have quite a few new neighbors and because we could all use a refresher on the special rules that come with living in a designated historic district, we have invited Sarah Quinn, Planner with the City of Pittsburgh, to join us at the April Membership meeting and review the Historic Review Commission objectives and process.

Topics to be covered include:

  • HRC applications for proposed work – how to submit them and fees involved
  • HRC versus LHRC
  • Allegheny West neighborhood guidelines and where to access them
  • Historic district affect on property values
  • Differences between property use and historic value – i.e. a structure can be any “use” (residential, commercial, industrial, mixed, etc.) and can be deemed historic

Sarah’s presentation will be an hour in length and will be the first item on the agenda. Please plan to attend!

Ann Gilligan
President, AWCC

AWCC Membership Meeting – April 9, 2019

Calvary United Methodist Church, 971 Beech Ave
Tuesday, April 9th at 7:30 pm

  • 7:30 – Guests
  • 7:40 – Sarah Quinn, Planner for the City of Pittsburgh on Allegheny West Historic District
  • 8:40 – Reading and Approval of March’s Minutes
  • 8:45 – Treasurer’s Report
  • 8:50 – House & Planning Committee Report
  • 9:15 – New Business
  • 9:30 – Adjournment

Sponsor a Western Avenue Flower Basket

We’re delighted to announce that Western Avenue in Allegheny West will once again be beautified by hanging flower baskets provided by the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy (WPC).

The WPC will provide the baskets, flowers, installation, watering and maintenance, “take down” and storage of the baskets. We had 41 baskets sponsored in 2018, but with 32 double poles, there is plenty of room for others to help in this worthy endeavor! We want to ensure that all who would like to participate be given the chance to do so.

In 2019, WPC is providing a discounted rate of $355/basket — including the sign! — for the initial year, which includes purchase of the basket, as well as plants, hanging, maintenance, take-down and storage. Sponsors will be subsequently reassessed at a $275/basket rate thereafter for plants, hanging and take-down, maintenance and storage.

Please go to alleghenywest.org/about to sponsor a basket or to make a donation. Contact Trish Burton (412) 523-9402 or tdburton3@gmail.com to discuss.

2019 Tour and Tasting

Submitted by Annette Trunzo, Ways and Means Chair

The 2019 Tour and Tasting will be held on Friday June 21st and Saturday June 22nd. The Committee is excited to share that we have several houses, but we still need a few more. If you are interested in putting your home and garden on tour, please contact Carol Gomrick: carolgomrick@gmail.com.

The theme of the tour will be a vastly different from previous tours. To highlight the incredible restaurant scene in Pittsburgh, the committee is reaching out to local restaurants to provide the food “tastings” and appropriate wine pairings. Guests will not only have the opportunity to try a variety of wines, but also learn more about what is making Pittsburgh such a foodie destination! Starting in April, the committee will be asking for help to promote the tour through social media and will share available volunteer opportunities. Please continue to check the Gazette and weekly email blast for updates and information.

Memorial Tree Plantings

Submitted by Fran Barbush

I wanted to make neighbors aware that the Allegheny West Civic Council has been in discussions with the Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy regarding tree plantings, which will take place during the week of April 8th. Seven trees will be planted in memory of Stella (Yia Yia) Kalaris, Kerry Kennedy, Donna Otto, Dan Rooney, Bob Turley and Alex Watson. Any neighbors who wish to learn the locations of these trees, and share a moment together in our wonderful Commons remembering these special neighbors can come to the corner of Brighton Road and Western Avenue on April 13th at noon.

I hope to see you then.

Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy Events at Allegheny Commons

Thursday, May 2nd – Grand Reopening of the Northeast Fountain: The Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy, in partnership with the City of Pittsburgh, Allegheny Commons Initiative and Northside Leadership Conference, invites you to attend the grand reopening of the historic Northeast Fountain. We hope to make this a fun celebration with activities and food. Event will take place at the corner of Cedar Avenue and East North Avenue in Allegheny Commons Park. Please register in advance at their website, pittsburghparks.org.

Saturday, May 4th – 2019 PNC Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy Spring Hat Luncheon: This year’s event will be held in Allegheny Commons Park.The event will be held on Saturday, May 4th in Allegheny Commons Park. Tickets may be purchased online at pittsburghparks.org or by calling their office (412) 682-7275.

Kentucky Derby Themed Farm-to-Table Dinner

Our farm to table dinner was so good we couldn’t wait to do it again. This year’s dinner takes place on April 26th, beginning at 6:00 pm, at 831 W North Avenue. Bob Maravalli has created a fabulous and inventive themed dinner. Professionally crafted cocktails start at 6:00 pm and will be served along with passed appetizers until 7:00 pm. Guests will enjoy four additional courses throughout the evening, each with wine pairings. If that isn’t enough, we are embracing the Derby look – the bigger the hat, the better! The menu can be sent upon request there are vegetarian and vegan options. The price is $125.00 per person and must be paid in advance. No refunds will be given if canceled 7 days prior to the event. Payment methods are check, cash, credit or Venmo.

For more information or to RSVP, contact Gracie: (412) 956-5761 / gracie@gramaxllc.com
or Elaine: (412) 638-8106 / elaine.stone@smarterguys.com