806 Western Ave, Pittsburgh, PA 15233

Workshop: Vegetable Gardening

Saturday, May 26, 2015
6:00 pm — 7:30 pm

Growing your own food is one of the most satisfying forms of gardening. Vegetable gardening provides the opportunity to select varieties you like, plus it provides your family with fresh produce that is free from harmful pesticides. This class will cover the basics of planning your vegetable garden, preparing the soil, selecting plant and seed varieties (including hybrids and heirlooms), starting plants from seed, planting, tending your plants, troubleshooting problems, extending the season, and getting the most out of small plots.

About the presenter: Martha Swiss is a garden writer, designer, and speaker. She is a regular contributor to Pennsylvania Gardener magazine and the publications editor for the Pittsburgh Botanic Garden. Her articles have also appeared in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and Fine Gardening. She is a graduate of Chatham University’s landscape design program and a Penn State master gardener.

Landmarks Preservation Resource Center
744 Rebecca Avenue
Wilkinsburg, PA 15221

This workshop is free to PHLF Members. Click here for more information about PHLF membership and please join! Non-members: $5

RSVPs are appreciated. Contact:

Mary Lu Denny – (412) 471-5808 x 527 
May 23, 2015

Free Tickets for Northsiders: The Last Five Years

The Last Five Years

Presented by Front Porch Theatricals
May 24th and 28th

A Powerful Musical…

An emotionally powerful and intimate musical about two New Yorkers in their twenties who fall in and out of love over the course of five years. The Last Five Years’ unconventional structure consists of Cathy, the woman, telling her story backwards while Jamie, the man, tells his story chronologically. Here’s the twist, though — the two characters only meet once!

You’re Invited

Thanks to the generous support of the Buhl Foundation, Northside residents are invited to attend The Mousetrap for free. A limited number of tickets are available online. Reserve your seat today!

 Sunday, May 24 at 2:00 pm  Thursday, May 28 at 8:00 pm

May 20, 2015

Lecture: Transit as a Development Tool

Thursday, May 19, 2015
6:00 pm — 7:30 pm

Nationwide, people are driving less and taking more about transit.  It’s not a fluke – it’s now a 10-year-long trend. Why?  And, more importantly, what does it mean to the historic preservation movement and community development?  In this lecture, we’ll explore the huge shift in national transportation trends, their positive urban revitalization impacts, Pittsburgh-area development and the streetcar, its implications for our neighborhoods’ continual rebirth today, and how both everyone from DIY-ers and large-scale investors can identify and capitalize on quality transit assets.

About the presenter: Chris Sandvig is the regional policy director for the Pittsburgh Community Reinvestment Group (PCRG). He works on regional and state issues impacting PCRG’s member communities and manages its GoBurgh program. He is a long-time transit advocate, Morningside resident, and commutes to work via bike or bus almost every day. Prior to PCRG, Chris spent nine years in corporate business development for industrial and commercial engineered HVAC systems. He holds Industrial Engineering and Public Policy degrees from Penn State and Carnegie Mellon University.

Landmarks Preservation Resource Center
744 Rebecca Avenue
Wilkinsburg, PA 15221

This lecture is free to PHLF Members. Click here for more information about PHLF membership and please join! Non-members: $5

RSVPs are appreciated. Contact:

Mary Lu Denny – (412) 471-5808 x 527 
May 16, 2015

Free Downtown Walking Tours – Fridays in May

12:00 pm — 1:00 pm

With its concentration of major historic buildings and modern skyscrapers, Grant Street is downtown Pittsburgh’s showcase thoroughfare. You’ll explore some of Pittsburgh’s grandest buildings—the Allegheny County Courthouse, City-County Building, Frick Building, Union Trust Building, and William Penn Hotel, among others—and enjoy views from two urban spaces: Mellon Green and Mellon Square. Grant Street is rich in history and full of architectural details that delight the eye.

Grant Street & Mellon Square

Advanced bookings are appreciated. For more information or to make reservations, contact:

Mary Lu Denny – (412) 471-5808 x 527 
May 15, 2015

You’re Invited: Marriage Equality/Open House Event at Delta Foundation

Delta Foundation Open House

 Join us at Western Pennsylvania’s first and only LGBT community-owned building! Share in our exciting plans that will allow us to serve our community even more and celebrate the anniversary of marriage equality.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015
7:00 – 9:00 pm

911 Galveston Avenue • Pittsburgh, PA 15233

Complimentary beer, wine, soda and light hors d’oeuvres

RSVP by May 15 to or call (412) 322-2800

Download, Print and Share the Event Flyer 

May 13, 2015

AWCC Membership Meeting Agenda – May 12, 2015

7:30 – Guests

  • Bridget Miller, Mary Cassatt Garden
  • Rev. Larry Homitsky, Calvary Church
  • Sarah Sweeney, Artist Model Buhl Grant

7:50 – Historic Preservation Awards

8:00 – Neighbor of the Year

8:05 – Approval of the Minutes from April

8:10 – Treasurer’s Report

8:15 – City Council Grants

8:20 – 2015/2016 Budget Proposal

8:50 – Treewells/Flower Order

8:55 – Upcoming Cleanups

9:00 – Wine Tour Update

9:05 –Upcoming Membership Events

9:10 – Committee Chair Q&A

Send a note to if you have additional agenda items to add.

May 12, 2015

Letter from the President – May 2015

I think I’m going to get a t-shirt made that says “I go to meetings, so you don’t have too.” – (maybe all the Board officers need a tag line?). And every time I go to a meeting that I think turns out to be a waste of time, I get to meet someone doing something really cool. At a GTECH meeting about neighborhood grants that I attended to see if our neighborhood would qualify for something, I found that Bridget Little from Manchester is picking up where Dr. Jean left off: continuing her work to make that area safer and prettier for all the folks coming off the train and into the Northside neighborhoods. I’m hoping she can make it to one of our neighborhood meetings to talk about the project some more. In the meantime, for the folks who were encouraging us to add the Cassatt Garden to our monthly clean ups, Bridget has a website set-up where you can volunteer to help: We’ll keep the monthly clean-ups focused on areas actually in Allegheny West for now, although we’re happy to support efforts all over the Northside.

Speaking of efforts all over the Northside. At the most recent Buhl Foundation meeting, I ran into Annette Trunzo, who – it turns out – is the leader of the northside-wide group that is tackling litter. She’s done an incredible amount of research already on all sorts of urban design questions around which signage and receptacles are the most successful. Considering that Allegheny West just got a huge grant ($13,000) from Councilwoman Harris, at least part of which is intended for new trash cans of our very own, it was really serendipitous timing. If you’re interested in helping Annette out, let me know and I’ll put you in touch. The committee is putting together a plan to request funding from the Buhl Foundation.

Finally, while I’m in general happy to “spare” folks from meetings, we still need to have a quorum at the Membership Meetings to make decisions and get things done! This month, the committee chairs will be handing out a budget proposal to be voted on next week. Think of it as “shopping”, not budgeting. My personal feeling is that a budget is one of the most public signals of what an organization values and what they want to accomplish for the year. The more people that have input into the process the stronger the organization will be!

Catherine Serventi
President, AWCC

May 12, 2015

2015 Historic Preservation Awards

The Allegheny West Civic Council along with the Allegheny West Local Review Committee announces the 7th Annual Neighborhood Preservation Awards. These awards are presented to property owners in Allegheny West who have done projects over the past year, used elements of historic preservation and adhered to the neighborhood guidelines to renovate their buildings. These property owners researched their projects and went through the Historic Review process to achieve their success.

The 2015 Awards Recipients

825 Western Avenue

Neighbor: Nick Mastros

This building was the local VFW for many years and stood vacant for the last 3. The project included repointing and cleaning the brick; repairing/replacing and repainting all wood trim; painting the decorative metals at the cornice spires; replacing the roof, downspouts and gutters; installing new wood double hung windows on the 2nd and 3rd floors; and restoring the original front doors and installing them in their openings with the original jambs and trim.

857 Western Avenue

Neighbor: John DeSantis

This building was originally a 1905 industrial building, the Pioneer Paint Co. and later, in the mid-Twentieth century, became a gas station. The property underwent a complete rehab to an office building and garden space. The concrete building walls were exposed and polished. A historic cornice was added around the structure. The garage doors were replaced with faux carriage house style doors. Brick sills and headers were added. A brick retaining wall and wrought iron fence were added around the property and plantings were installed.

These projects greatly add to the historic ambience of the Western Avenue streetface, contribute to the economic development of our neighborhood and enhance the quality of life in Allegheny West.  To celebrate Preservation Month, the awards will be presented at the Membership Meeting of the Allegheny West Civic Council on Tuesday, May 12th at 7:30pm at Calvary United Methodist Church, corner of Beech and Allegheny Avenues.

Neighbor of the Year – 2015

The Neighbor of Year awards will presented at the Northside Leadership Conference Dinner on June 11, 2015.  If you’re interested in attending (and it’s fun!) tickets will be available soon from the Northside Leadership Conference, so save the date.

Last membership meeting we, the nominating committee, nominated Nick Smerker as this year’s neighbor of the year.  It’s never an easy decision since so many people do such great work on the neighborhood’s behalf.

Here’s the bio that will be published in program for the NSLC Annual Dinner:

Nick SmerkerNick moved to Allegheny West several years ago and noticed right away that needed to be overhauled and cheerfully volunteered. He spent months meeting with our neighbors to find out how they were hoping to use our community website. Once we had a basic structure set up, he patiently worked with many different stakeholders on creating useful content. The result is a beautiful, modern website that still manages to highlight the historic nature of the neighborhood. We’re even more grateful that he’s continued the hard work of maintaining the site, even adding new features as we continue to find new ways of using it.

When he is not fixing the internet presence for the AWCC, Nick works for Education Technology Services at Penn State University as a traveling multimedia consultant. His role with Media Commons takes him to spaces located at Commonwealth campuses throughout western Pennsylvania and he engages him with faculty and students as they produce digital media.

When not traveling for the University, Nick spends his time working on a many freelance projects, including various roles at Signum University, an online liberal arts initiative he helped found in the summer of 2011.  You can check out some examples of his recent work at:, or

May 12, 2015

Above & Beyond

Gene and Fran have both been working diligently through the 311 line to try and get the street lights back on on Beech Avenue. (We’re setting up a pool for which day the week of the Wine Tour the City decides to tear up the street.)

Carl & Cecile and Deb & Doug got up an insanely early time to host the neighborhood cheerers for the Marathon. Thanks to everyone who helped out.

Our insurance agent Megan & Scott from Babb Insurance spent a Friday afternoon scrambling to set up parking for the folks displaced by the marathon. Thanks to Hal for his suggestion that we should look for parking – he’s looking out for folks.

Talk about above and beyond…Deb and Trish have been helping out home owners on tour with actual gardening, along with all the Tour arrangements!

If you’d like to recognize a neighbor who went above-and-beyond for you or the neighborhood this month please send a note to or give Cathy a call at (412) 418-2027 and we’ll make sure they’re recognized in the Gazette.

May 12, 2015