Earlier this month, in partnership with the Federal Government, we nominated the U.S. Post Office & Courthouse building (Weis Courthouse) downtown to be considered for historic landmark status to the City’s Historic Review Commission.
Designed by the nationally prominent, New York-based architectural firm Trowbridge & Livingston and constructed between 1931-34, the monumental scale of the building was largely a response to the growing needs of Pittsburgh and the inadequate and outdated Victorian Era edifice that once graced Smithfield St. During the design phase Pittsburgh’s Chamber of Commerce perhaps best suited this call for change, urging the Federal Government to build “…a different sort of structure—one symbolic of Pittsburgh’s progress and industrial importance.”
And they did. The new building was the largest structure in downtown Pittsburgh, with around 600,000 square feet of floor space and room for 3,000 employees. The Pittsburgh Press reported that the building contained 15,000 tons of steel, 60,000 cubic yards of concrete—enough to build a sidewalk from Pittsburgh to Wheeling—and over 16,000 stone blocks, along with 1,126 doors and 1,200 windows.
The building also houses two of the four WPA murals within the City of Pittsburgh. In 1935 three large 20-by-10-foot murals were commissioned for the courtrooms on the eighth floor. Steel Industry by Howard Cook, Modern Justice by Kindred McLeary (since lost), and Pittsburgh Panorama by Stuyvesant Van Veen remain some of the most accessible, and breathtaking, pieces of WPA art for Pittsburghs downtown. The building also houses an incredible amount of Guasatavino tiling, a portion of which is currently undergoing extensive rehabilitation.
We hope that Pittsburgh’s City Council will join us in extending formal recognition to such an important, and monumental, piece of Pittsburgh’s history.
To read more about the history of the building and for additional photographs, please click here.
If you would like to lend your support for the designation, please email the City’s Preservation Planner, Sarah Quinn at firstname.lastname@example.org.
We would like to thank the Federal Government for their partnership and their efforts to maintain the building and restore important historical elements changed over time.
If you would like to help our landmarking efforts, please consider donating to our Landmarking Fund.