Past Events 2014

Below is a listing of year 2014 past events.

Note: For a listing of all videos in past years, go to: Videos on YouTube

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YEAR 2014

December 9, 2014 (Tuesday)

"Early Gas Exploration in the East End"

Speaker: JOEL TARR
Richard S. Caliguiri University Professor of History Urban, Environmental, Policy

Few people know the history of Pittsburgh better than Joel Tarr, who has taught at Carnegie Mellon since 1967. Tarr’s research deals with the history of the urban environment and the development of urban technological systems. Joel Tarr last spoke to the SHHS in November 2007. His subject was "Horses in Pittsburgh" This month he will speak on history of an energy system.

Joel Tarr

About Joel Tarr (from CMU website):
JOEL A. TARR studies the environmental history of cities and the history and impact of their technological systems. He is particularly interested in using history to understand contemporary problems. In 1992 Carnegie Mellon University awarded him the Robert Doherty Prize for Contributions to Excellence in Education, and in 2003 he was elected a University Professor. In 2008, the Society for the History of Technology awarded him its highest award, the Leonardo da Vinci Medal, presented to an individual who has made an outstanding contribution to the history of technology.

His book, Technology and the Rise of the Networked City in Europe and America, edited with Gabriel Dupuy, won the 1988 Abel Wolman Prize of the Public Works Historical Society; his book, The Search for the Ultimate Sink: Urban Pollution in Historical Perspective, was named an “outstanding Academic Book for 1997” by Choice; his edited volume, Devastation and Renewal: An Environmental History of Pittsburgh and Its Region, received a Certificate of Commendation from the American Association of State and Local History in 2004; and, his co-authored book, The Horse in the City: Living Machines in the 19th Century, was awarded Honorable Mention in 2007 for the Lewis Mumford Prize of the Society for City and Regional Planning History.

He is co-editor with Martin V. Melosi of the University of Pittsburgh series, “The History of the Urban Environment.” He served as President of the Public Works Historical Society in 1982-83 and as President of the Urban History Association in 1999. He has served on National Research Council committees dealing with issues of urban infrastructure, public transit, water pollution, and the Human Dimensions of Global Change.

November 11, 2014 (Tuesday)

Originally scheduled for Jan. 2014, but had to cancel

"Squirrel Hill's Mansions"

Writer, Researcher, Historian

Melanie Linn Gutowski is a writer, researcher and historian originally from Stanton Heights. Her history writing has appeared in Pittsburgh Quarterly magazine and the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, among other local and national publications. She holds a bachelor's degree in history of art and architecture from the University of Pittsburgh and a master's in Professional Writing from Chatham University. Melanie currently works as a docent at Clayton, the Henry Clay Frick estate in Point Breeze.

Melanie Gutowski

from Arcadia Publishing -- book by Melanie Gutowski
In the 19th century, the positioning of Pittsburgh as a major manufacturing center and the subsequent rise of the areas steel industry created a wave of prosperity that prompted the beneficiaries of that wealth to construct extravagant residences. Wealthy enclaves sprang up in the citys East End, across the river in neighboring Allegheny City, and into the countryside. Pittsburgh's Mansions explores the stately homes of the areas prominent residents from the 1830s through the 1920s. Businessmen such as H.J. Heinz, Henry Clay Frick, and members of the Mellon family commissioned elaborate homes from the preeminent architects of their day. Firms such as Alden & Harlow, Janssen & Abbott, and Rutan & Russell left their marks on the city's landscape, often contributing iconic public buildings as well as expansive private homes. Though many of the residences have since been lost, Pittsburgh's Mansions offers a look back at the peak of the citys prominence.

Also, see post-gazette article August 24, 2013 "Pittsburgh's Mansion details grand homes of the past and present"

October 14, 2014 (Tuesday)

"August Wilson, A Pittsburgh Life"

Senior Theater Critic, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Chris Rawson

August Wilson was a prolific playwright who eloquently chronicled African American life. A Pittsburgh native, his most celebrated achievement is a 10-play cycle often referred to as the Pittsburgh Cycle, where each play is set in a different decade of the 20th century. All but one of the plays is set in Pittsburgh's Hill District neighborhood, where Wilson was raised. Each play depicts the love, lives, comedies, triumphs and tragedies of the African American experience.

Wilson was the first African American to have two plays running simultaneously on Broadway and is one of seven American playwrights to win two Pulitzer Prizes.

Book: "August Wilson: Pittsburgh Places in His Life and Plays" by Laurence A. Glaswco and Christopher Rawson
A guide to historic sites and places that figure in the life and plays of August Wilson. Most of these are set in the Hill District, where Wilson was born and grew up. The book includes photographs of the sites as well as fold-out maps for self-conducted walking tours.

About Chris Rawson:
Rawson's main discipline is as a theater critic. From 1983 to 2009, he was full-time theater critic and theater editor at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, covering theater not just in Pittsburgh but also as much as possible in New York, London and the Canadian theater festivals. In 1984, he started the annual Post-Gazette Performer of the Year Award, now (2013) in its 30th year. In 2009, he semi-retired, continuing as that paper's part-time senior theater critic. He also appears as the weekly critic for KDKA-TV.

September 9, 2014 (Tuesday)

"Some Observations on 20th Century Architecture in Pittsburgh"

Speaker: AL TANNLER,
Pgh. History & Landmarks, Historical Collections Director

Albert M. Tannler, historical collections director, joined PHLF on January 2, 1991. He researches and writes architectural history and oversees the James D. Van Trump Library and the Frank B. Fairbanks Rail Transportation Archive. Prior to joining PHLF, Al worked as an archivist and editor in Chicago. He began researching and writing about architecture in the Department of Special Collections at the University of Chicago Library.

August -- No Meeting Scheduled

July 8, 2014(Tuesday)

"In Search of Pittsburgh's Mr. Selfridge:
Unknown Stories from Pittsburgh's Department Stores

Reference and Access Archivist,
University Library System, University of Pittsburgh

June 10, 2014(Tuesday)

"The Civil War in Pennsylvania: Stories Through Photographs"

Curator of Collections at Soldiers & Sailors Memorial Hall & Museum

Michael Kraus’s interest with history began when he was ten with the discovery of a 3000 year old Native-American stone ax which he found in the dirt while playing behind his parent’s home in Western Pennsylvania. From that moment the question of who was here before us and what happened to them awakened Michael to a lifelong affinity for historical artifacts and the background stories they hold.

For more information, visit website Soldiers & Sailors Memorial

June 7, 2014 (Saturday)

Fabulous Success !!

Date: Saturday, June 7, 2014

from Homewood cemetery website:
"Almost 135 years ago, part of the same virgin forest that is now Frick Park was purchased for an equally special purpose: as The Homewood Cemetery..... The Cemetery Association purchased 178 acres of land with the intent of implementing a Lawn Park style Cemetery. At the time of the Cemetery's foundation, the East End was already home to some of Pittsburgh's most wealthy and influential families--as well as the many people who worked for these families. .... The Homewood Cemetery is currently undertaking a major restoration effort to maintain the Lawn Park intention of the cemetery's design."

May 13, 2014(Tuesday)

"History of Randall's Toyes and Giftes"

Speaker: JACK COHEN, owner of Randall's Toyes and Giftes


S.W. Randall Toyes and Giftes is Pittsburgh's largest specialty toy and gift store. They are a family run chain and are currently celebrating their 43rd year in business. Their headquarters is located in the heart of downtown Pittsburgh.

Jack Cohen says he opened the store in Squirrel Hill 25 years ago and it has remained at this same location. With three Pittsburgh locations and an online store, you are sure to find the perfect toy for any age at SW Randall. KDKA staffers say SW Randall is “what an old-fashioned toy store should be.”

April 8, 2014(Tuesday)

History of the Nationality Rooms of the University of Pittsburgh

Nationality Rooms Tour Coordinator

Nationality Rooms

March 11, 2014(Tuesday)

"The History of Tree of Life* Or L'Simcha Congregation"


February 11, 2014(Tuesday)

"History of Coffee Tree Roasters and Commentary on Coffee"

Speaker: BILL SWOOPE, JR.,
Co-Founder and Co-Owner of "Coffee Tree Roasters"

The family-run enterprise started with one coffee shop in Squirrel Hill in 1993 and has grown to include five shops with another set to open in Pleasant Hills next month. The shops plus the wholesale operation and a service company called Espresso Solutions now employ between 80 and 100 people, a mix of part-time and full-time.

The staff roasts about 500,000 pounds of coffee beans every year, or about 4,000 of those 132-pound burlap bags, rather more than the 10 bags ordered to supply that first store in 1993. Deliveries of the roasted beans are made as far away as State College, Erie and Washington, Pa.

January 14, 2014 (Tuesday)

"The Streets of Squirrel Hill:
Forbes and Murray Avenues Over the Years"

SHHS board members, Mike Ehrmann and Helen Wilson, held a meeting on "Sq.Hill Memories" which included a lot of audience participation. Seems there are a lot of places and memories in the hearts of our "Squirrel Hillians". Great Meeting !!