Postmodernism

Manchester’s North Side isn’t entirely Victorian – and that’s why it’s so important

PHOTO BY JAMES F. CARR

Ahile the Manchester neighborhood on the north side of Pittsburgh is generally known for its Victorian-era homes, a new walking tour shines a light on the more contemporary buildings of the eclectic community.

Hosted by the Manchester Historical Society and the Pittsburgh Pittsburgh Modern Preservation Committee — which examines, studies and explores the region’s modern and postmodern architecture, design and public art in the 20th century — the Manchester Modern Architecture Walking Tour explores community buildings and sites that were designed between the late 1940s and late 1970s.

The buildings on the tour, which were designed during a time of profound change on the North Side — including post-World War II urban renewal efforts — are former and current school buildings, churches, and community centers.

Running from 2-4 p.m. on Saturday, October 22, the self-guided tour kicks off with coffee and sweets, plus a behind-the-scenes tour of Commons of Fulton. Now a coworking space and incubator of trendy kitchens, the 1940s building was once St. Joseph’s School and later became the headquarters of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul.

The next stop is Manchester Elementary School, where modernist styles were incorporated in 1964 by Pittsburgh architects Lawrence and Anthony Wolfe. Also on the 1 mile winding route through residential streets is a stop at Bidwell Presbyterian Church, which was designed in 1977 by local architect Tasso Katselas in conjunction with the church’s reverend at then civil rights leader James “Jimmy Joe” Robinson.

Robinson’s dynamic story, along with that of his wife, beloved Pittsburgh educator Dr. Betty Robinson, will also be highlighted at the event.

The interior tour of Bidwell Church is the final leg of the tour and includes special guests, according to event organizers.

The tour also includes a printed guide map of modern architecture in Manchester and the North Side which encourages DIY exploration. The guide itself is part of MODERN SURVEY, a new series curated by the Pittsburgh Modern Committee that covers mid-20th-century architecture, public art, and design in various Pittsburgh neighborhoods.

Tickets for the event are $15, or whatever attendees are able to donate. To pre-register, visit here.