Archive

ShareThis Page
Parishioners unite to thwart century-old Shadyside church’s demise | TribLIVE.com
Allegheny

Parishioners unite to thwart century-old Shadyside church’s demise

Katishi Maake
| Wednesday, August 19, 2015 11:09 p.m
ptrstarbucks3082015
Philip G. Pavely | Trib Total Media
Albright United Methodist Church, seen here in Shadyside, Wednesday, Aug. 19, 2015, may be slated for demolition to make way for shopping. Built in 1906, the church is mostly in the Gothic Reviva style.
ptrstarbucks2082015
Philip G. Pavely | Trib Total Media
Ivy takes over a portion of Albright United Methodist Church, seen here in Shadyside, Wednesday, Aug. 19, 2015. The 109-year-old church, in the Romanesque and Gothic Revival style, may be slated for demolition to make way for a Starbucks.
ptrstarbucks1082015
Philip G. Pavely | Trib Total Media
Albright United Methodist Church, seen here in Shadyside, Wednesday, Aug. 19, 2015, may be slated for demolition to make way for a Starbucks. Built in 1906, the church is in the Romanesque and Gothic Revival style.

Abass Kamara was baptized at Albright United Methodist Church in Shadyside, and he was confirmed there. The crenellated stone edifice on Graham Street was the location of his parents’ wedding and his mother’s funeral.

Now with the church’s future uncertain, Kamara, 38, a devout Christian, has joined other members of the congregation to oppose plans to demolish the 109-year-old structure to make room for commercial development.

“We care deeply about the building,” Kamara said. “Whatever happens in the process, we are going to stay engaged in order to protect the building.”

Pittsburgh-based real estate firm Ross Development Co. plans to use the 21,750-square-foot lot where the church sits to build a one-story retail facility with 27 parking spaces. The project’s estimated cost is $1.8 million, according to the development review application. Ross is known for building stores for companies including Starbucks, Dunkin’ Donuts and Gap Inc.

Ross has an agreement with the Western Pennsylvania Annual Conference of United Methodist Churches — Albright’s parent organization — to purchase the building. The Pittsburgh Zoning Board of Adjustment will decide whether the firm’s request meets the provisions of the Pittsburgh Zoning Ordinance.

Members of the congregation and community will be allowed to voice their grievances at a public hearing Thursday morning.

“We’re not necessarily anti-development,” Kamara said. “All options are on the table as long as they protect the building.”

In November 2013, the congregation stopped using the building as a place of worship, said David Barton, the Western Pennsylvania Annual Conference’s attorney.

Because of water damage to the church’s sanctuary, the congregation had to move from the building. Barton said the congregation could not afford to maintain the church’s condition.

Because the congregation stopped using the building, the Western Pennsylvania Annual Conference was permitted to claim ownership after recognizing its abandonment in January.

Barton said this is a recurring situation within communities of faith.

“Often it’s the case that iconic neighborhood churches are determined as not needed to fulfill the religious mission,” he said. “The concept of neighborhood church that people walk to is becoming less and less viable.”

Since the end of July, the congregation has been holding services on the church’s lawn in an effort to raise awareness about its fate. In addition, they have been working with nonprofit advocacy organization Preservation Pittsburgh to uncover more about the building’s history.

Most notably, the church’s congregation predates the building, which was built in 1906, said president of Preservation Pittsburgh, Matthew Falcone. When the congregation decided to move from its previous location Downtown, they took pieces of the old building and integrated them into Albright’s design.

“It’s really interesting going through all of the records,” Falcone said. “The church embodies the overall history of Pittsburgh.”

Katishi Maake is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7841 or kmaake@tribweb.com.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.