All evening programs are open to the public and held at the Church of the Redeemer, 5700 Forbes Avenue, and begin at 7:30 pm.
If you have any suggestions or ideas for future speakers or topics to put on our agenda, please email us at email@example.com.
January 8, 2019 (Tuesday)
“The History of Squirrel Hill’s Public Elementary Schools”
Speaker: Helen Wilson, SHHS Co-Vice President
Helen has found that people who attended public elementary schools in Squirrel Hill have vivid memories of them. She will use photos, maps, and other images to present a wealth of information about the history of those schools.
Squirrel Hill’s Public Schools
The history of the public schools in Squirrel Hill is convoluted. Schools were built, named and renamed, torn down, relocated and reorganized.
Before 1868, Squirrel Hill was part of Peebles Township. When the City of Pittsburgh annexed the township in 1868, Squirrel Hill had only two small schools. The number soon grew to five as the population increased. At first all the schools were named Colfax and numbered from 1 to 5, which created so much confusion a law was enacted ordering that the schools be given individual names.
Colfax No. 1 is still located at Beechwood Boulevard and Phillips Avenue. That school kept the Colfax name. It is the only one of the five original schools that is still a public school. Colfax No. 2 was at the intersection of Beechwood Boulevard and Saline Street near Brown’s Hill Road. It closed in 1907 but was reopened in 1916 as the Roosevelt School Annex when Roosevelt, located where the Greenfield Giant Eagle is now, became overcrowded. The annex closed and was torn down in 1939. Colfax No. 3, on Forward Avenue, became Forward Avenue School. It was torn down in 1923. Colfax No. 4, at Whipple and Commercial, became Swisshelm School, named for noted journalist and abolitionist Jane Gray Swisshelm. It no longer exists. Colfax No. 5, at Solway and Wightman Streets, became Wightman School, named for the owner of the Thomas Wightman Glass Company. It is now Wightman Community Center, owned by the Carriage House Children’s Center.
Besides the five Colfax schools, two other public elementary schools existed in Squirrel Hill. Brown School was built near the Monongahela River in 1888 on land donated by the Brown family. It closed in 1932, but the building remains and is an apartment house today. Davis School, named for a principal of the Frick Training School for Teachers, was located on Phillips Avenue. It opened in 1931 and closed in 1980.
Squirrel Hill’s stately public high school, Taylor Allderdice, was built in 1926 and is still going strong today. It was named for the president of the National Tube Company, who was a member of the Board of Education at the time.
About the Speaker: Helen Wilson, Co-Vice-President of the Squirrel Hill Historical Society, has been researching and writing about Squirrel Hill history for the past 12 years. Her articles have appeared in Squirrel Hill Magazine, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Historic Gardens Review (published in England) and other publications. She teaches a course on the development of Squirrel Hill at the CMU Osher Lifelong Learning Institute and has given presentations about Squirrel Hill to various historical societies and other groups.. In 2015, she and her son Todd co-authored Pittsburgh’s Bridges, a pictorial history of the bridges within Pittsburgh’s borders, part of Arcadia Publishing’s Images of America series. In 2017, she edited and co-authored Squirrel Hill: A Neighborhood History with four other members of the SHHS, which was published by The History Press.
February 12, 2019 (Tuesday)
“The History of Allderdice High School”
Speaker: Mina T. Levenson
Mina will discuss the history of Squirrel Hill’s most illustrious public school, Taylor Allderdice High School. Generations of graduates have made their mark in the world after spending their formative adolescent years at the grand old high school.
Named after industrialist Taylor Allderdice, our own neighborhood public high school opened in 1927 and has been credited many times over the years as a National Blue Ribbon School and as one of the best high schools by both Newsweek and US News & World Report.
Allderdice is one of the largest high schools in the City, and boasts of a population of about 1,500 students from Squirrel Hill and numerous nearby neighborhoods.
Among its alumni who have followed the school motto to “know something, do something, be something, ” is a uniquely long list of notable musicians, actors, professional athletes, scientists, economists, mayors, political activists, artists, writers, and filmmakers – including Billy Porter, Rob Marshall, Kathleen Marshall, Wiz Khalifa, Sally and Maxine Lapiduss, Curtis Martin, Bob O’Connor, Richard Caliguiri, Sara Alpern, Gary Green and so many others.
March 12th, 2019 (Tuesday)
“The History of Kennywood Park”
Speaker: Andy Quinn, Kennywood Park historian and Community Relations Director
Andy will talk about the historic amusement park that so many generations of Pittsburghers have enjoyed.
Overlooking the Mon River on 80 acres in West Mifflin, historic Kennywood has long been a fun-filled destination for Pittsburgh. Built on the site of the French and Indian War’s Battle of the Monogahela, the park was designed by architect George S. Davidson and opened as a trolley park in 1899. It is one of 13 trolley parks currently in operation in the nation.
The Kennywood Entertainment Company operated what has been called “America’s finest traditional amusement park” for more than a century until it was sold about 10 years ago to Parques Reunidos.
The park is celebrated for its classic and modern rides, its carousel, Kiddieland, the Potato Patch (+ other refreshment stands and picnic areas), and is renowned for its three historic wooden roller coasters as well as its newer steel coasters. The Phantom’s Revenge recently was cited by USA Today as being the third best roller coaster of any park in the U.S. Kennywood has received state recognition, is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is one of only two designated US Historic National Landmarks in the country.
About the Speaker:
Andy Quinn is a fourth-generation member of the Kennywood family, part of the McSwigan family that co-owned the landmark amusement park for more than a century. In his 40+ years at Kennywood, he has worked in many roles, including Food & Beverage, Marketing, and Government/Industry Relations. He currently serves as the park’s in-house historian and helps on special projects, primarily work involving government agencies.
April 6, 2019 (Saturday)
Walking Tour of Hill District (featuring both black and jewish sites)
Time: 9:45am – 12:15pm
Meeting Place: Hill District Carnegie Library, 2177 Centre Ave, Pittsburgh, 15129
Tour Guide: Terri Baltimore, Director of Neighborhood Engagement for the Hill House Association (our October 2018 speaker)
Proceeds from this tour will be donated to the Hill House. The Hill House is a non-profit organization serving Hill District residents through community engagements, arts, culture and senior services.
Sign ups for this tour will begin January 1, 2019
April 9, 2019 (Tuesday)
“The History of Dollar Bank”
May 4, 2019 (Saturday)
Walking Tour of Squirrel Hill Business District (With Special Focus on 1970 -1990)
Time: 9:45 am – 12.00
Meeting Place, Church of the Redeemer, 5700 Forbes Avenue
May 14, 2019 (Tuesday)
“Gene Kelly and the Jewish Community of Squirrel Hill”
Speaker: Eric Lidji, Director of the Rauh Jewish Archives, Senator John Heinz History Center
Before he revolutionized the movie musical with films such as “An American in Paris” and “Singin’ in the Rain,” Gene Kelly was a young entertainer who was willing to take any job he could get in order to help support his family. His first break came in September 1931, when Beth Shalom Congregation hired him to teach Sunday dance classes for children and oversee the production of its annual springtime Kirmess. The job began a seven-year partnership between the Kelly family and the Jewish community of Squirrel Hill, forging friendships that would last more than half a century. Using rarely seen newspaper clippings and archival records, Eric Lidji will show how this intersection between a rising star and a growing community changed both forever and for better.
About the Speaker:
Eric Lidji is the director of the Rauh Jewish History Program & Archives at the Heinz History Center. He was raised in Squirrel Hill and graduated from Yeshiva Schools and the University of Pittsburgh. He is the author of two books on Pittsburgh history and culture, including “The Seventeenth Generation: The Lifework of Rabbi Walter Jacob.” He is the co-editor of “Her Deeds Sing Her Praises: Profiles of Pittsburgh Jewish Women.”
June 1, 2019 (Saturday)
Walking Tour of Chatham University
Time: 9:45 am -12.00pm
Meeting Place: Mellon Hall, Woodland Road
Note: Portions of this campus are quite hilly
June 11, 2019 (Tuesday)
“Catahecassa Springs Eternal”
Speaker: Matthew Falcone, President of Preservation Pittsburgh
Matthew will discuss the history of Catahacassa Fountain (and Snyder Spring), a prominent feature of Schenley Park and recent addition to the City’s Register of Historic Places, as well as its future prospects.
July 9, 2019 (Tuesday)
History of the Squirrel Hill Poetry Workshop and a Reading by the Poets
Speaker: Rosaly DeMaios Roffman and members of the Squirrel Hill Poetry Workshop.
The poets will include: (as scheduling permits): M. Soledad Caballero, Ann Carson, Ziggy Edwards, Nancy Esther James, Don Krieger, Christine Doreian Michaels, Randy Minnich, Pam O’Brien, Rosaly DeMaios Roffman, Joanne Matone Samraney, Shirley Stevens and Arlene Weiner.
A Short History of the Squirrel Hill Poetry Workshop
The Squirrel Hill Poetry workshop began in 1978 to bring together local poets for reading and a discussion of each other’s work. It was founded by Sue Saniel Elkind at the Squirrel Hill Library, a branch of the Carnegie. In 1991, longtime member H. Kermit Jackson assumed the directorship of the group. Rosaly DeMaios Roffman became facilitator when Kermit Jackson died in 2000, and she presently leads the workshop with assistance from some current members.
The group originally met at the Squirrel Hill Library, but in 2010, the workshop moved to the CC Mellor Library in Edgewood where they meet every two weeks. Membership has remained steady, typically with 16 poets, and has included persons from varied professional backgrounds, including a kindergarten teacher, a salesman, a composer, college professors, a retired biochemist, a librarian, a biomedical researcher, an occupational therapist and a psychologist.
The workshop has published two anthologies: The First Decade (1988) edited by H. Kermit Jackson which featured the work of SQPW members and Pittsburgh and Tri-State Area Poets (1992) edited by Sue Saniel Elkind which featured the work of members and other local poets.
Nearly all members have published at least one book or chapbook, several have edited poetry anthologies and two have founded magazines and online journals. Individual members have won literary prizes in national competitions and have read their poetry not only in venues around the United States, and also in Canada, Jerusalem, Athens and Bratislava.
In June of 2018, the Squirrel Hill Poetry Workshop celebrated their 40th Anniversary with a celebration at the Senator John Heinz History Center.
For more on our workshop, poems, biographical notes and photographs, go to: www.squirrelhillpoets.org
Also of interest: Issue #29 of UPPAGUS, an online journal edited by Ziggy Edwards and Jude Rosen. This issue is devoted to th poetry and history of the workshop. For instance: https://uppagus.com/interviews/roffman1/
About the Speaker
Rosaly DeMaios Roffman taught creative writing, Classical Literature, World Mythology, and founded a Myth/Folklore Studies Center at IUP. She co-edited the prize-winning Life on the Line, and is the author of Going to Bed Whole, Tottering Palaces, The Approximate Message, and In the Fall of a Sparrow. She has read her poems in Ireland, Greece, Mexico, Israel, Spain, and Bratislava and has collaborated on 23 pieces with composers and other artists. She as received grants from the National Endowment and the Witter Bynner Foundations and was awarded the Distinguished Faculty Award in the Arts at IUP. In 2012 Tebot Bach published her latest book of poems, I Want to Thank My Eyes.
August 13, 2019 (Tuesday)
“The History of The Frick Pittsburgh, the Fricks and Clayton”
Speaker: Robin Nicholson, Executive Director, The Frick Pittsburgh
Robin will present a program about the Frick family and its most important legacies in the city—their mansion and art museum in Point Breeze.
September 10, 2019 (Tuesday)
“Getting To Know Our Neighbors: The History of Hazelwood”
Speaker: JaQuay Edward Carter, Founding President, Greater Hazelwood Historical Society of Pittsburgh
October 15, 2019 (Tuesday)
“Wicked Pittsburgh (A History of Corruption)”
Speaker: Richard Gazarik, Journalist
Richard was a journalist for four decades and the author of four books, Black Valley: The Life and Death of Fannie Sellins; Prohibition Pittsburgh; Wicked Pittsburgh; and the Mayor of Shantytown coming out in November. He is currently working on books on jazz and McCarthyism.
November 12, 2019 (Tuesday)
“The New Pittsburgh City Archives: Highlights of the Collection”
Speaker: Nick Hartley, Pittsburgh City Archivist
Nick Hartley is the City Archivist for the City of Pittsburgh. Previously, Mr. Hartley was an archivist at the Library and Archives of the Heinz History Center, where he processed record collections of industrial corporations from Western Pennsylvania. He is a founding Steering Committee Member of the Three Rivers Archivists. He received a Master’s degree in Library and Information Science from the University of Pittsburgh in 2013. He holds a Certified Records Manager designation from the Institute of Certified Records Managers and a Certified Archivist designation from the Academy of Certified Archivists.
December 10, 2019 (Tuesday)
“The Life of Sophie Maslow, the Mayor from Squirrel Hill”
Speaker: Barbara Burstin, SHHS Member and on the faculty of CMU and Pitt/
About the Speaker:
SHHS Member Dr. Burstin teaches at the University of Pittsburgh and Carnegie Mellon University, including Osher classes. Her courses deal with the American Jewish experience, the U.S. and the Holocaust, and now a new course on the history of Pittsburgh. In addition to Jewish Pittsburgh, Dr. Burstin is the author of Steel City Jews, a history of Pittsburgh and its Jewish community from 1840 to 1915, and its sequel, Steel City Jews in Prosperity, Depression and War, published in 2015, looks at the community in the 1920s, ‘30s, and ‘40s. She has also produced a film, A Jewish Legacy: Pittsburgh.
January 14, (Tuesday)
“Homestead and Squirrel Hill”
Speaker: Tammy Hepps, Founder of HomestadHebrews.com.