As its name suggests, the building that houses Lawrenceville’s Church Brew Works began life as a house of worship—St. John the Baptist Roman Catholic Church. Now, like many of the church buildings that left empty around Pittsburgh, St. John the Baptist has found new life after transformation, open seven days a week to any congregants who want to sit at a repurposed pew and sample one of the brewery’s offerings.
Pittsburgh International Airport Interfaith Reflection Room
Stepping into the Interfaith Reflection Room at the Pittsburgh International Airport is like leaving the busy airport behind entirely. The large and quiet space is located on the mezzanine level of the airside terminal, next to some bathrooms and a private lounge. On the inside of the room are a few dozen plastic chairs facing two pulpits and a removable wooden crucifix on the front wall. The room is clean and bright. One wall is painted red with a long window at the top and a few multicolored stained glass squares in the corner that let in lots of light.
Mary Schenley Memorial Fountain
Mary Schenley wasn’t a pagan, but she found plenty of other ways to shock the upper-class society into which she was born in the nineteenth century. Born Mary Elizabeth Croghan in 1826, she eloped with a British army captain three times her age when she was fifteen years old and divided the rest of her life between Pittsburgh and London. The Mary Schenley Memorial Fountain, also called “A Song to Nature,” was built near Schenley Plaza in her memory in 1918.
Mr. Smalls Theatre
In 2002, Mike Speranzo and Liz Berlin transformed a church Mr. Smalls Theatre. The venue includes a concert hall that can hold 800 people for concerts or other events, a smaller stage, and a restaurant. In the basement there is a small café. Mr. Smalls Theatre has hosted performances by both local and national artists. President Bill Clinton even visited once for a political rally. The building itself was also once a Catholic Church called St. Ann’s.
The Hocus Pocus Occult Emporium, located on Meyran Avenue in Oakland, calls itself the oldest Occult shop in Pittsburgh. The store itself is tiny, dimly lit, and very welcoming. Once you step through the threshold at Hocus Pocus, as stated on their website, they aim to make “you feel as though you’ve stepped into a magical realm between worlds.” Inside you will find anything you might need to take part in the magical arts, from Tarot decks and crystals to sage for Native American smudging rituals. The store is for “mystics, poets, witches, shamans, dreamers, healers, seekers, & visionaries of all paths,” from novices to experts.
Bridge Witches Tarot Deck
Pittsburgh artist Genevieve Barbee-Turner drew from interviews, research excursions, and her own experience living in Pittsburgh to craft the Bridge Witches tarot deck. The illustrated set of 78 cards seeks to combine the long history of tarot with a representation of modern life in Pittsburgh.
Ukrainian Nationality Room
Like the rest of the University of Pittsburgh’s 31 Nationality Rooms, the Ukrainian room on the third floor of the university’s Cathedral of Learning is part active classroom and part museum. The room, one of the smaller nationality rooms, is largely modeled after a 17th-century svitlytsia, a living room where a Ukrainian nobleman would receive his guests. The svitlytsia emphasizes hospitality and faith, key concepts in Ukrainian culture; signage inside the room cites an Eastern European proverb: “When a guest enters the home, God enters the home.”
The Pittsburgh Platform, which was written and signed in Pittsburgh in 1885, is a document that outlines eight principles of Reform Judaism that were agreed upon by rabbis at the Pittsburgh Conference. The Reform Movement is a liberal denomination of Judaism and has a rich history in the city of Pittsburgh.
Church Bells of Pittsburgh
The sound of church bells is part of the landscape of sound in Pittsburgh just like car horns honking and helicopters flying overhead to the hospital. But they are also much more than that. Bells can carry meaningful and sometimes secretive histories of the churches where they hang. And for Christians who attend these churches, the sound of church bells ringing creates time and space for prayer outside of the secular world. By doing this, church bells make themselves a vital part of religious expression in Pittsburgh.
At 60 feet in diameter, the twisting, circular stone pathway at Chatham University’s Shadyside campus is the largest outdoor labyrinth in Pittsburgh.