We had expected to spend our winter exploring southern Texas and Arizona, but God had other plans.
A minor medical procedure on Joe’s legs has forced us to spend the winter in Pittsburgh. But that doesn’t mean we’ve given up exploring.
Currently we’re living like college students above a store front on Warrington Avenue in the Allentown neighborhood of Pittsburgh.
Because we live upstairs, we can’t just tie Nikki out like we would in a motorhome. That means at least four times a day Joe takes the dog out for a walk in the neighborhood. Nik’s a great ambassador. People who won’t look up when you pass by will stop us to talk about our blue-eyed dog.
On his daily walks Joe found two really cool buildings.
On one of his walks Joe noticed was a two-story brick building and tower up on a hill a couple of blocks away. Climbing the hill for a closer look he found the 1909 Beltzhoover Sub-District School.
The building was used as a school until sometime in the 2000s and is now for sale. It’s an impressive building that’s on the National Register of Historic Places. We don’t know why it was placed on the register. Did someone famous go there? Was it designed by a well-known architect? Information about the school is not yet digitized on the federal government’s website.
While researching the school, a story in the Tribune about one of the six oldest houses in Pittsburgh popped up. It’s a little field stone house near us on Climax Street.
The building dates to 1794 when German immigrant Melchoir Beltzhoover, who bought 248 hilltop acres on what was then the western frontier and built a house on his farm. There’s a Facebook page that explains a lot about Beltzhoover, his family, business and how he came to Pittsburgh.
The front of the building on Climax Street looks like a 1900s store front that was later converted to housing. The vacant lots beside it are weedy and overgrown. The store front is attached to the two-story field stone building. The news story says someone from Baltimore bought the building and land for $20,000, but he hasn’t done anything with it.
It’s not likely anything will be done to the building. Beltzhoover is not a prosperous area by any means. The properties around the homestead are run down or abandoned and that area of the city hasn’t drawn developers to redevelop properties like the South Side, the Mexican War Streets or Lawrenceville.
The Beltzhoover homestead sets me to dreaming. What would I do if I had the money to return that old house to its former glory? And what else lies undiscovered in this neighborhood?