806 Western Ave, Pittsburgh, PA 15233

The 34th Annual Old Allegheny Victorian Christmas House Tour

Friday, Dec 11 and Saturday, Dec 12, 2015

We are once again planning for the Christmas Tour, which will feature six neighborhood houses in addition to Calvary United Methodist Church. Once again, Holmes Hall will be open to guests as well as those who would like to tour the train museum. Tour-goers (and neighbors) can do early holiday shopping at our shop in Calvary Church.

Much work remains to be done:

  1. Two homeowners have graciously volunteered their homes, but we need four other homeowners (or renters!) Please consider opening your home so that we can continue to host what is our major fundraiser. Without this tour, our neighborhood’s projects and opportunities to impact the surrounding area will be diminished.
  2. Those who have volunteered for past tours will soon be contacted by our sub-chairs. Please respond (positively!) to their emails and calls.
  3. New neighbors are encouraged to consider how they will be able to help with the tour. This is a great event to be involved with. Some ideas:
  • Put your house on tour.
  • Offer to help homeowners on tour with decorating and housesitting during the tour.
  • Be a tour guide (instructions and scripts provided)
  • Greet our visitors at Calvary Church where the tour begins
  • Help our party chair to organize (and perhaps cook or bake for) the volunteer party held on Saturday night
  • Be on the tour committee–or just attend the meetings–and give your ideas and suggestions.

Please contact any of us for more information:

Trish Burton (
Gloria Rayman (
Cathy Serventi (

Above & Beyond: Special Edition

Babb Insurance, our neighbors on Ridge Avenue, got together 25+ employees for a service day in Allegheny West. Their fearless leaders, Kaylee Kirsh and Sarah J. Hagen, whipped them up to such a state of enthusiasm that the Allegheny West folks who joined them, Michael Shealey and Cathy Serventi could barely keep up with things for them to do. They swept the entire neighborhood for trash, weeded every treewell on Western, and removed a bunch of debris in front of the Stables building and at the corner of North Ave. and Brighton. We’re really grateful and hope they come back soon!

Farmer’s Market

You don’t have to leave the City limits to buy farm-fresh vegetables. Visit the Farmers Market in East Park, along Cedar Avenue. You can find farm-fresh fruits, vegetables, meats, cheese, baked goods, and flowers. Take advantage of this wonderful community asset in our Commons. The Market begins May 15th and is open from 3:30 to 7:30 pm.

Neighborhood Cleanup

The September neighborhood cleanup will be held from 9:30 – 11:00 am on Saturday, September 26th. We will be both picking up trash and cleaning a few tree wells, if possible. Gather at the AWCC office at 806 Western Avenue (next to the parklet). Refreshments will be provided.

Calling all Cooks!

Do you love to cook and have favorite recipes you know people would enjoy trying?  Are there delicious and cherished family recipes you would be willing to share?

Allegheny West is starting to gather recipes to compile a neighborhood cookbook to use for a fundraiser.   Please send your recipes to Debra Kelly via email to: Please double check for typos and ingredients and include your name and, if you are submitting a family recipe, please include the name and relationship of the person whose recipe you are including.

Membership Activities

Labor Day Block Party

Monday, September 7th. How can this be the end of summer so soon? An enclosed flyer has all the details for the event.

Monthly Mixer

September 25that the Modern Café at 6:00 pm.

Allegheny Cemetery Tour

Looking ahead to October I am planning an Allegheny Cemetery Tour.  Possible dates for the tour are October 10th or 24th in the morning.Many of the families who built and lived in our neighborhood are buried there. They don’t necessarily have to have lived in your house, so if you want to see if someone interesting from Allegheny West that you’ve heard about is buried in the cemetery feel free to pass those names along too. If you would like to find out if the family associated with your house is buried there call or email Mary Callison ( by September 12th.

Letter from the President – July 2015

So I get to talk to a lot of interesting people since I finally managed to figure out the phone system enough to get the AWCC office number forwarded to my cell phone. One of the most common types of calls we get is from neighbors who have questions about complying with the historic guidelines for renovations. Well, aside from the electric company scammers trying to get me to tell then our account number so they can process our “rebate”: seriously, guys, if you were Duquesne Light you would KNOW our account number ALREADY. Anyway. Those calls from neighbors – coupled with the fact that I seem to have spent more than the normal amount of time this month in meetings that have “Enforcement” as an agenda item – means that I have been doing a lot of thinking about why it’s so important, as a property owner in the neighborhood, to continue to follow the historic district guidelines. So, even though it was, frankly, really frustrating that, in order to replace the person-door on our garage (of which approximately one square foot of was actually visible from the street) we ended up paying more in permit fees than the door itself cost AND we missed the deadline for the May Historic Review Committee agenda so we didn’t actually manage to get the approval in time to get the door replaced for the wine tour which was the entire point of replacing the door in the first place…


My point is that it can sometimes be challenging to explain to new neighbors, or even neighbors who have been here a while, WHY those rules are so important to follow even though they can be inconvenient and expensive. There’s some really interesting (well at least to me, but I’m kind of an archaeology nerd) work being done looking at the positive effect that enforcing historic preservation guidelines have on local property values. If you’re the kind of person that finds abstract evidence based arguments compelling a quick Google search on “historic preservation property values” should keep you happy for a good long while. Honestly, though, I’d really like some help making a more visceral case to folks about why the guidelines are important whether it’s a new neighbor or our new building inspector from BBI. I think, for the neighbors who have spent the last 30+ years watching their hard work come to fruition, the need to enforce the historic guidelines is obvious. But when we moved in even 7 years ago, Allegheny West was already gorgeous; our street was described as “the most beautiful street in Pittsburgh”. Our house was (and still is – we appreciate your patience!) one of the few houses not completely restored on Beech.

I realized this month though that the only photos I’ve seen of Allegheny West are either from the very early days of the neighborhood, 1870-1910 – before urban “renewal” (ha!) and the collapse of the steel industry wreaked havoc – or more recent photos meant to showcase the neighborhood for tours or the website. What I haven’t seen and what I’m hoping neighbors (you!) can provide are essentially the “before” pictures from the time period when the historic preservation guidelines went into effect. Before AWCC spent 50 years putting on tours and buying and stabilizing properties with the proceeds. Before neighbors got together on Saturdays to literally hand build brick sidewalks. Before folks wrote grants and property owners paid assessments to completely redo Western Avenue’s infrastructure. As part of the lead up to the 50th Anniversary of AWCC we’d like to share some of those “before” pictures. If you have photos of your house, interior or exterior, or even better, of the street, from “before” it was renovated please send them to: We’d like to start a section in the newsletter and on the website of “Then and Now” so that we have something concrete to point to about what can happen to our neighborhood without the protection of the Historic District guidelines.

Catherine Serventi
President, AWCC

Neighborhood Cleanup!

Submitted by Michael Shealey

Saturday, July 25th at 9:30 am

The July neighborhood cleanup will be held from 9:30 – 11:00 am on Saturday, July 25th. We will be both picking up trash and cleaning a few tree wells, if possible. Gather at the AWCC office at 806 Western Avenue (next to the parklet). Refreshments will be provided.

July Membership Activities

Submitted by Mary Callison 

The largest event for July has already happened! The 4th of July Block Party occurred last Saturday with possibly the best weather I can remember for the event. Also, I was thrilled with the number of neighbors who helped with setting up and cleaning up the party. It was very much appreciated. As usual special thanks to: Howard Brokenbek (and his truck), Gloria Rayman (her brother John and her large vehicle) for bringing all the tables and supplies from the office. Because the weather has been so rainy, the council decided to buy two large easy to put up tents. John Burton purchased the tents and had them on site for several men of the neighborhood to show off their construction skills. Thankfully we did not need them for rain but it was still nice to have shade over the food tables. Special thanks to Doug Lucas and the use of Calvary’s kitchen, to Linda Iannotta for fixing the turkey breasts and John, Tom, Scott and Devin for fixing ribs.

Neighborhood Mixer will be at Giorgio’s on July 17th, it is a BYOB and you can order from the menu. Time is 6:30 pm, but any time after is fine!

We are still trying to play Bocce each week on Thursday evenings starting at 6:30 pm. We play until it begins to get dark, so if you cannot come ‘till 7 or 7:30 it will be fine. Turnout to play has been very small, so if there is no interest in playing let me know.