Wednesday, 14 October 2015

PITTSBURGH: The Block House - Western PA's Oldest Building

Point Park

Beside the Fort Pitt Museum in Pittsburgh's Point Park, you'll come across a small building with a delightful garden and a most intriguing history. Known as the Fort Pitt Block House, this building remains as the oldest standing structure in Western Pennsylvania and the oldest building west of the Allegheny Mountains. Occasionally known as Bouquet's Blockhouse or the Bouquet's Redoubt, the building was originally built as a defensive redoubt (often one of the first lines of defense) of Fort Pitt - what was once the largest and key defensive forts of the British.

While the fort was demolished in 1792, the Block House was converted into a private residence. The building isn't on the large side so I can't imagine who cramped housing conditions must have been - records suggest it was home to various sizes, classes and social backgrounds over the decades. By the 1840's the Block House was home to multiple families - just one of many tenement houses of Pittsburgh's poor Point District population.

Point Park

By 1894, Mary Schenley - a philanthropist, presented the deed to the Block House to the Daughter of American Revolution (DAR). With 16 months of restoration - removing the windows and doors, the DAR continue to this day to preserve the structure for future generations with many of the timbers, brick and stonework being original. Today the Block House is a free to visit museum. Sadly we wandered around Point Park late on a summers evening after closing, but fingers crossed for a peek inside sometime especially with it's British history.

I do wish I'd captured more photographs of the Edith Ammon Memorial Garden which is planted just to the left of the building. While small, it had quiet the English cottage garden feel yet filled with flowers native to the Pittsburgh area.

Point Park

It's always great to come across glimpses of British history on my travels on this side of the pond.

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