As part of DOORS OPEN Pittsburgh, an annual two-day event that provides unprecedented access to buildings around the city, we are featuring 20 of the many buildings participating.
Today’s building is the Union Trust Building.
A Brief History of the Union Trust Building
The Union Trust Building was built by Henry Clay Frick in 1915 and completed in 1916. It was known as the Union Arcade and featured 240 shops and galleries. The interior of the building features a central rotunda capped by a stained glass dome (also listed on the National Register of Historic Places).
The building was designed by Frederick J. Osterling and was constructed on the site of St. Paul’s Catholic Cathedral. Rumored influences on the building include Brussels Town Hall, Leuven Town Hall and the Woolworth Building. Union Trust bought the building in 1923 and decided to officially call it the Union Trust Building.
Many think that the interesting roof of the Union Trust Building is because of a restrictive covenant placed on the piece of land by the Diocese of Pittsburgh. There was a story that then bishop Richard Phelan placed the restrictions on it when Frick bought it. He wanted residents to always remember a cathedral was once there. Other rumors say there is a requirement that a place of worship must be maintained forever on the site. This is all urban legend—there were no such things in the original 1901 deed, which transferred the use from religious to secular.
Later, in 1984, Edward J. DeBartolo, who owned the 49ers, Penguins and Pittsburgh Maulers, bought the building. In 2008, the building was bought again by California investors Michael Kamen and Gerson Fox. Four years later, the building was subject to bankruptcy. By the time 2014 rolled around, the land was sold at foreclosure for $14 million to its current owner. The Boston-based Davis Companies restored the Union Trust Building at $100 million and put in two first-floor restaurants and later, a 10th-floor theater.
For tickets to this outstanding event, you can visit Doors Open Pittsburgh here.
Buildings already featured here on Pittsburgh Beautiful: