806 Western Ave, Pittsburgh, PA 15233

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.

Allegheny West Christmas Tour – Help Needed

Submitted by Carol Gomrick

Save the Date!

The annual AWCC Christmas Tour will be held on December 7th and 8th. Please consider putting your home on the tour – we are still in need of two houses. If you’re willing and able, kindly contact Carol Gomrick at

Important Dates Leading into the 2018 Tour

Wednesday November 14th | 7:00 pm
Christmas Tour General Meeting | 940 W North Avenue

Saturday, December 1st | 9:00 am
Swag bundling / Hanging | Cathy Serventi & Gene Wilson’s house at 851 Beech Avenue
(Enter via Dounton Way.)

Friday, December 7th and Saturday, December 8th
The Tour


Beech Avenue will be closed during the tour. Residents can park at the lower Babb, Inc. Parking lot starting at 4:00 pm for off-street parking.

Volunteers Needed

Doug Sprague is leading the charge to sign up tour guides. Please reach out to Doug ( with questions. Please consider signing up for a shift (or three)!

We are in need of train volunteers for Friday, December 7th and Saturday, December 8th. If interested, please contact Cecile Canales ( or sign up at

Help with crowd and tour control. Contact Brandon Williams:

Deliver meals and assist homeowners with any needs. (Contact Carol)

Set up and take down luminaria at the homes that are on tour. (Contact Carol)

Tree of Life Memorial Reading @ City Books

Tree of Life Memorial

Please join City Books on Saturday, November 10th from 7:00-9:00 pm as we honor the victims and families of the anti-Semitic attack Tree of Life with a memorial reading to benefit HIAS (Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society) and JFCS Pittsburgh. Suggested donation is $5.

We expect an overflow audience on Saturday, so we ask for cooperation and consideration as we manage the crowd.

Scheduled Readers

Jennifer Bannan
Tuhin Das
Barbara Edelman
Michelle Gil-Montero
Kevin Haworth
Tereneh Idia
Joy Katz
Marc Nieson
Adriana Ramirez
Shannon Reed
Phil Terman
Jesse Welch

and Mimi Jong, ehru soloist


Join Us for a Gathering for Peace and Unity

City of Pittsburgh Banner

Join us at a community gathering for peace and the victims of the Tree of Life shooting.

Mayor William Peduto invites all Pittsburgh area residents to a public event to honor the victims of the Tree of Life shooting, and to call for peace and unity among all:

Friday, November 9th
12:00 pm
Point State Park

The event will begin with a one-minute moment of silence for peace and the 11 victims. Those unable to make the event – from those in Pittsburgh to others around the world – are invited to host their own moments of silence at 12:00 pm, Eastern Standard Time, on Friday, November 9th.

Preservation Pittsburgh Event at Threadbare Cider

Please join us on Tuesday, November 13th from 6:00-9:00 pm at Threadbare Cider House & Meadery in Spring Garden on the Northside.

Threadbare opened in October 2017 in a 10,000 square foot former tannery. Their cider & mead business grew out of the family-owned Wigle Whiskey enterprise.

1291 Spring Garden Avenue
Pittsburgh, PA 15212

Our members are invited to learn more about Preservation Pittsburgh projects and enjoy libations, tours, and remarks by our gracious hosts at Threadbare.

Light refreshments will be provided (pizza and one cider pour). There will be the option to purchase additional drinks and take-home bottles. A portion of sales will be donated to Preservation Pittsburgh.

Free parking is available in Threadbare’s lot and there is additional street parking on Voskamp.

The Annual Meeting is a member appreciation event and thus admission is complimentary for current Preservation Pittsburgh members. To join or renew online:

Non-members and guests of members are welcome with an admission charge of $15. To purchase tickets:

For questions regarding membership status and to RSVP: Advance reservations are required.

Tayo Aluko brings the life of Paul Robeson to the Alphabet City

City of Asylum (2018)

Tayo Aluko:
Call Mr. Robeson

Monday, November 12th
7:00 pm

Paul Robeson was a great and famous actor, singer and civil rights campaigner. When he became progressively too radical and outspoken for the establishment’s liking, he was summoned to appear before the House Un-American Activities Committee to give the most difficult and important performance of his career.
Call Mr Robeson

“”For those who know little about Robeson, this touring production offers an admirable introduction to a great pioneering performer.” — The Guardian

Nigerian-English baritone Tayo Aluko’s one-man show Call Mr. Robeson presents a roller-coaster journey through Robeson’s remarkable and eventful life.

Through some of the most famous songs and speeches from Robeson’s tempestuous career, this one-night-only theater performance highlights how Robeson’s pioneering and heroic (but largely forgotten) political activism led many to describe him as the forerunner of the civil rights movement.

Reserve Your Free Tickets

8th Annual Handel’s Messiah Early Bird Tickets Now On Sale

Handel's Messiah

Two Performances

Saturday, December 1, 2018 at 4:00pm
Sunday, December 9, 2018 at 4:00pm


Bask in Handel’s inspiring Messiah while surrounded by candlelight and Calvary’s magnificent Tiffany stained-glass masterpieces.

The Calvary Festival Choir will be fresh back from performing at Carnegie Hall, New York City in the DCINY (Distinguished Concerts International New York) Messiah Concert Thanksgiving Weekend 2018.

This will be our eighth year bringing this Calvary tradition to the Pittsburgh area.  We have added a second concert this year to accommodate the growing audience.  We appreciate you allowing us to expand this program!

We will be performing the “Christmas” portion of Messiah.  Calvary’s Music Director Brian Burns conducts the event which includes popular regional soloists, a chamber orchestra comprised of some of the area’s most accomplished instrumentalists, and the Festival Choir.  David Bridge, a past conductor and organist, is at the parlor organ and Calvary’s restored 1895 Farrand & Votey organ.  The concert is followed by a cookie reception in the Victorian Chapel.

The concert is family-friendly – each child 12 and under will receive an activity pack.  This concert is also a sing-along.  As an audience member you are not required to sing, but you are certainly invited to sing along on each of the choruses sung by the Festival Choir.
We also offer this concert in support of outreach ministries on Pittsburgh’s Northside. This year, as in years past, we ask audience members to bring non-perishable food items and extra shopping tote bags for Northside Common Ministries Food Pantry.  Also, tickets are given to neighborhood schools, smaller churches, and groups such as Tickets for Kids.

It’s a fantastic way to kick off the holiday season, and we invite everyone to join in and sing for the joy of it!

Reserve Your Seats