Pittsburgh churches

Pittsburgh History & Landmarks Foundation awards grants to 11 historic churches for renovations

Some of the finest buildings in western Pennsylvania are churches and religious structures. They are also some of the most difficult buildings to repair and maintain.

This challenge has become a little easier for 11 Allegheny County congregations, thanks to the Historic Religious Properties Grant Program of the Pittsburgh History and Landmarks Foundation (PHLF).

About $94,000 in matching grants have been awarded to congregations, which will leverage more than $1.5 million for the restoration and renovation of historic structures, according to PHLF officials.

The work ranges from repairing slate roofs to restoring stained glass windows and repointing masonry.

For example, the Church of the Redeemer in Squirrel Hill received $7,950 for stained glass restoration and the Clark Memorial Baptist Church in Homestead is receiving $9,000 to have its entrance columns repaired and for grouting work.

“They represent some of the most significant architecture in the area,” says David Farkas, director of property development for PHLF. “They represent a variety of building styles and ages. They are therefore very important from an architectural point of view, for the appearance of the city.

A worker reinstalls stained glass at the Church of the Redeemer. Photo courtesy of the Pittsburgh History & Landmarks Foundation.

However, these are much more than beautiful buildings.

“They’re really de facto social services and community centers in their neighborhoods,” says Farkas. “They do very important work and serve as community centers beyond Sunday worship services.”

There aren’t a lot of funds available for these types of fixes, for the most part. “They are generally not eligible for government grants available for brick-and-mortar restoration work that non-religious groups are eligible for,” says Farkas. “That’s why we created the program more than two decades ago, to meet those needs.”

The program is open only to Allegheny County congregations. The maximum grant is $10,000 for each church, and congregations are required to raise their own funds to match it. The application window runs from early September to early December.

If your congregation doesn’t know where to start, they can help you too.

“We make our building manager, Tom Keffer, available to these congregations to help with any questions or issues they may have related to their building,” says Farkas. “Then we frequently see these congregations request a subsequent year for a monetary grant to implement a number of changes or recommendations that we have developed with them.”

The Historic Religious Properties Grant Program aligns perfectly with the mission of the Pittsburgh History & Landmarks Foundation.

“We are a private, non-profit organization that is primarily involved in historic preservation as a way to revitalize communities,” says Karamagi Rujumba, director of development and communications for PHLF. “It can be in town, out of town. Historic buildings can be individual single-family homes, commercial buildings, entire neighborhoods. »

Here are the other 2020 scholarship recipients:

Church of the Ascension, Shadyside, $10,000 for masonry repairs and grouting

Eastminster Presbyterian, East Liberty, $10,000 to restore stained glass on a porch

First Baptist Church of Pittsburgh, Oakland, $10,000 for slate roof repair and downspout replacement

First Presbyterian Church of Pittsburgh, Downtown, $3,150 for stained glass repairs

St. Andrew’s Lutheran Church, Shadyside, $10,000 to repaint exterior woodwork

St. John the Baptist Ukrainian Catholic Church, South side, $10,000 to install a ramp for the disabled

Third Presbyterian ChurchShadyside, $7,483 to restore main entrance doors

Tree of Life Open Bible Church, Brookline, $5,234, to install historically appropriate wood-clad windows

union project, East Liberty, $10,000 to restore original stone entry stairs