Advocating for the Integrity of Penn-Liberty's Historic District

819 & 821 Penn Ave.

819 & 821 Penn Ave.

As you may know, a large new development is in the works in partnership with the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust, Pittsburgh Parking Authority, and The Davis Company on land that spans Penn Avenue to Ft. Duquesne Blvd. (between 8th and 9th Streets).  Much of the land is surface parking/parking garage. However, the new development includes the corner of Penn & 9th Street in the City designated Penn-Liberty Historic District and thus the partners are seeking permission from the Historic Review Commission (HRC) to demolish three buildings in the Historic District (819, 821 Penn Ave are  circa 1910 buildings contributing to the District while the third building, 823 Penn Avenue, does not contribute). The proposed demolition was discussed at the November HRC meeting and may be voted on this week at the Wednesday, December 6th HRC meeting. The link to December’s HRC meeting agenda and applicants’ materials is here.

Also, here is a link to a Post-Gazette article from this summer.

Preservation Pittsburgh believes that it is the HRC’s role to protect buildings that have gone through the long and thorough process to become city landmarks. The two contributing buildings with historic character could be incorporated into the new development. Preservation Pittsburgh has made contact with the partners and has attended a meeting with The Davis Company.  We will also attend this week’s HRC meeting.  

It’s important to note that just a few blocks down at the corner of Penn Avenue and 7th Street a different approach is being taken.  Rather than demolition, two existing buildings at 711 and 713 Penn Avenue (McNally and Bonn Buildings) -- previously owned by the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust -- will be incorporated into Trek Development's new residential and retail development.

The HRC’s December 6th monthly meeting begins at 1 pm, but the demolition approval request falls later on the agenda (probably around 2:45 pm).  Public comment will be heard and public support is taken into consideration (comments are limited to 3 minutes).  Also at the very end of the HRC agenda will be the discussion of Roslyn Place Historic District and Sheridan Homestead that Preservation Pittsburgh recently nominated in partnership with property their respective owners.

 Note: if you are not able to attend the HRC meeting but wish to make a comment, you may send a letter or email to the HRC (Attn: Sarah Quinn) with your public comment: 200 Ross Street, Third Floor, Pittsburgh, PA 15219 or email

Given the pace of development in our city, some of which impacts our historic resources, it’s important that the public has a say in how our communities grow and develop. One way to have a say is through the protection of our historic structures that had a vibrant past with potential for an equally vibrant future.