Last updated: August 30, 2014
Events are held on the second Tuesday of each month,
FREE at 7:30 p.m.,
The Church of the Redeemer,
located at 5700 Forbes Avenue
If you have any suggestions or ideas for speakers or topics to put on our agenda, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
September 9, 2014 (Tuesday)
"Some Observations on 20th Century Architecture in Pittsburgh"
Speaker: AL TANNLER,
Pgh. History & Landmarks, Historical Collections Director
Mr. Tannler will explore interesting discoveries made about Pittsburgh's buildings, architects, craftsman, and clients, as well as some historical, economic, and environmental factors that influenced and shaped building and design in the twentieth century.
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.
October 14, 2014 (Tuesday)
"August Wilson, A Pittsburgh Life"
Speaker: CHRIS RAWSON,
Senior Theater Critic, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
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.
November 11, 2014 (Tuesday)
Originally scheduled for Jan. 2014, but had to cancel
"Squirrel Hill's Mansions"
Speaker: MELANIE LINN GUTOWSKI
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.
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. Pittsburghs 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 citys 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"
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.
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.
January 13, 2015 (Tuesday)
"History of Nine Mile Run Watershed"
Speaker: ZELDA CURTISS
Retired Environmental Attorney
See Nine Mile Run Website
The Nine Mile Run Watershed is a small urban watershed located in Pittsburgh’s East End. Covering just 6.5 square miles, the watershed is home to numerous exciting initiatives, including the largest urban stream restoration in the United States completed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
About the Speaker:
Zelda Curtiss is a retired Department of Environmental Protection(DEP) attorney. She worked for DEP for 29 years.
Following her retirement from DEP, she taught an environmental law clinic at the Duquesne University School of Law. As a DEP attorney, she was involved with several aspects of the environmental issues in the Nine Mile Run watershed.
She is now a board member
of the Nine Mile Run Watershed Association.
February 10, 2015 (Tuesday)
"Why all these Presbyterians, and where did they come from??"
Speaker: PETER GILMORE
Presbyterians have long had a conspicuous place in Pittsburgh, and Squirrel Hill. Nearly 170 years ago a writer proposed, “There is no part of the United States which contains a population, more distinctly and peculiarly marked, than the Presbyterian population, for perhaps, a hundred and fifty miles around Pittsburgh, as a common centre.” The prominent Presbyterian presence continued well into the twentieth century.
But why? Why did our city and region come have so many Presbyterians? And why so many Presbyterian churches, sometimes within blocks of each other?
The answers lie in European migration in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, in old-world controversies and new-world adaptation.
Historian Peter Gilmore will attempt to provide those answers, and in the process explain something about the intersection of religion, ethnicity, class and politics.
Dr. Gilmore is an adjunct lecturer in history at Carlow University, and an instructor for the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at the University of Pittsburgh. At Carlow he teaches courses including “Irish American History” and “Emergence of the Modern West.” Courses taught for Osher include “History of Religion in Western Pennsylvania” (with Dr. Kathleen Parker), “Western Pennsylvania Politics to the Civil War,” and “British Isles History Through Folk Song.” During Fall 2013 Dr. Gilmore served as a postdoctoral teaching assistant at the Carnegie Mellon University branch campus in Doha, Qatar. He had previously taught at the CMU-Qatar during the 2007-2008 academic year.
Peter Gilmore received a Ph.D. in social and cultural history from Carnegie Mellon University in May 2009.
His most recent publications include “The ‘Moral Duty’ of Public Covenanting in the Antebellum United States: New-World Exigencies, Old-World Response,” which appeared last year in The Journal of Transatlantic Studies (Vol. 11, Issue 2 ). He co-authored with Kerby A. Miller the essay “Southwestern Pennsylvania, 1780-1810: Searching for ‘Irish’ Freedom—Settling for ‘Scotch-Irish’ Respectability,” which appeared in Ulster to America: The Scots-Irish Migration Experience, 1680s-1830s, edited by Warren R. Hofstra and published in 2012 by the University of Tennessee Press.
March 10, 2015 (Tuesday)
"Chinese Restaurants in America"
Speaker: Michael Chen
Michael Chen is President of the Pittsburgh Chinese Restaurant Association. Mr. Chen is a well-established local restaurateur who owns 10 restaurant including "China Palace" , "My Thai", "Sushi Two" and the Squirrel Hill restaurant " Everything Noodles"
From Post-Gazette August 11, 2013
At Everyday Noodles in Squirrel Hill, meals come with a show.
Tables are positioned so diners can watch the action behind a plate glass window, where a cook transforms a muscle of dough into noodles.
With his hands on thick ends, he kneads by throwing the limb overhead, letting the center bow with its weight. Then he forms a loop, twirling strands together, and stretches the dough again. At the finish, he drops it like a barbell that thwacks against the counter. He repeats the process for a few minutes until dough is soft and pliant.
After he divides this dough into sections, he pulls the ends of a baton past his torso in opposite directions. He finishes the sequence with a fold-twist maneuver at lightning speed, using his fingers to separate, as dough laces into noodles with his rhythm.
These cooks have been brought to Pittsburgh from Taiwan for their expertise through the efforts of Mike Chen, the restaurateur behind China Palace in Wexford and Monroeville as well as Sushi Too in Shadyside.
Mr. Chen and his son Allen, owner of Tamari in Lawrenceville and Warrendale, have carved a niche by opening accessible Asian restaurants with menus that court fusion cuisine and offer lively dining rooms for cocktail drinking and people watching.
Everyday Noodles is different from their other concepts. It was inspired by Mr. Chen's trip to Toronto three years ago, when a dining experience motivated him to bring authentic Chinese cuisine to Pittsburgh.
Since then, he has worked with the Taiwanese government to bring cooks here to train his employees. Several trips to Taipei led him to cherry-pick the trio he will host for the next six months, after which they will return home to be replaced by three new visitors with different skills.
April 14, 2015 (Tuesday)
"Life of Andy Warhol and History of the Warhol Museum"
Speaker: ERIC SHINER
Director, The Andy Warhol Museum
From Andy Warhol Museum website
The Andy Warhol Museum is a vital forum in which diverse audiences of artists, scholars, and the general public are galvanized through creative interaction with the art and life of Andy Warhol.
The Warhol is ever-changing, constantly redefining itself in relationship to contemporary life using its unique collections and dynamic interactive programming as tools.
From article in Tribune written by Alice Carter, April 11, 2014.
If you haven't been to the Andy Warhol Museum recently, it's time for a second look.
After 20 years in its North Shore home, the museum is nearing completion of a project to redesign and repurpose its galleries and public spaces with a new vision and visitor-friendly exhibits.
“The culmination of two years' work by the Warhol team, the re-hang is built upon scholarship and exhibitions that the museum has been recognized for internationally ever since its inauguration in 1994,” says Nicholas Chambers, the Milton Fine curator of art at the museum. “It brings together painting, film, television, music, immersive installations and numerous other aspects of Warhol's life and work — revealing the manner in which Warhol fundamentally redefined our understanding who an artist could be.”
The most significant change is a major redesign of its collection galleries, which are chronologically organized across five of the museum's seven floors.
After the new installation is completed, masterpieces of Warhol's art from the collection, as well as archival materials, will change periodically to allow frequent visitors a wider view of items from the museum's extensive collection.
“To keep the content fresh, the curatorial team will rotate artworks in all galleries on a frequent basis. It will be a fun experience and definitely worth a visit if you haven't been to the museum in a while,” says Eric Shiner, director of the Andy Warhol Museum......"
About the speaker, Eric Shiner from CARNEGIE Magazine, Winter 2008 by Betsy Momich
Eric Shiner is proof that you can go home again—and even like it. After more than 10 years away, the western Pennsylvania native and Pitt graduate recently returned to home turf for his dream job as The Andy Warhol Museum’s new Milton Fine Curator of Art. Unlike the museum’s famous namesake, Shiner never lost his affection for Pittsburgh and has sung its praises all over the world, including his adopted home-away-from-home, Japan.
It was serendipity that placed Shiner in a statewide honors program for high school students in the summer of 1989, when the focus just happened to be Japan. “Something about it really spoke to me,” Shiner recounts, and a few years later, after visiting Japan during a semester at sea while a Pitt student, Shiner was hooked. His undergraduate and graduate studies would all focus on the study of Japanese art and architecture. In between, Shiner made his first stop at The Andy Warhol Museum for a memorable internship spent peering into the boxes—and, consequently, the contemporary-art genius—of the famed pop artist. He professes to have changed a lot as a person during his time at The Warhol and his six years in Japan. One experience opened his eyes to the world; the other gave him a whole new appreciation for the world of contemporary art. He’s applied lessons learned from both in an already eclectic career as a curator and lecturer—a path that, happily, has brought him home again.
May 12, 2015 (Tuesday)
"The World Class Battlefield Next Door"
(the Battle of Braddock's Fields, 1755)
Speaker: ROBERT T. MESSNER
Director,Braddock's Battlefield History Center
from: Braddock's Battlefield History Center website
Braddock's Battlefield History Center opened in August of 2012. It commemorates one of the most famous military engagements in the history of Colonial America, the Battle of the Monongahela, or "Braddock's Defeat" on July 9, 1755 at the beginning of the French & Indian War.
In a surprise encounter for both sides, approximately 650 French allied Indians and 200 French engaged the considerably larger Braddock Expedition, which had been sent to seize Fort Duquesne and thereby to control the "Forks of the Ohio" at the Point in present day Pittsburgh. The result of this engagement , which lasted more than three hours, shocked the Colonies and Europe. It also enhanced the military career of young George Washington, which had previously been undistinguished at best.
The cast of participants in the Braddock Expedition and this engagement reads like a "Who's Who" of colonial America. Many of them were in their twenties and this experience remained with them for the rest of their lives. After more than 250 years since the Battle, the Braddock's Battlefield communities finally have a historic tourism center befitting this significant historic event.
Read more about the Museum's development and Director, Robert T. Messner in Marylynne Pitz's Post-Gazette article August 18, 2012 -- excerpts:
The Battle of the Monongahela, in which French and Indians rained musket fire on British soldiers and killed Maj. Gen. Edward Braddock, lasted three hours on July 9, 1755.
The battle to build a museum dedicated to this major military engagement lasted 17 years and was waged by a lone lawyer from Blackridge, who volunteered all of his time and energy. Braddock's Battlefield History Center at 609 Sixth St. in North Braddock opens to the public today.
The new, 5,000-square foot museum represents a decisive victory for Robert T. Messner, a self-taught historian and retired general counsel for Dollar Bank. His tactical arsenal included a willingness to learn about every facet of the battle of the French and Indian War, a dogged effort to collect 250 artifacts and 50 artworks, and the ability to see how a former auto dealership, overgrown with giant weeds, could be transformed into a museum.........
......... The idea of establishing a museum occurred to Mr. Messner one afternoon in 1995 while he looked across the Monongahela River and tried to envision Braddock's 2,200 men, dressed in wool uniforms, wading through 10 feet of water on a hot summer day..........
June 9, 2015 (Tuesday)
"Getting to Know our Neighbors:
A History of Lawrenceville"
Speaker: JIM WUDARCZYK,
Researcher for the Lawrenceville Historical Society
.... Lawrenceville was founded in 1814 by William Foster, father of composer Stephen Foster, who was born there in 1826. It is named for Captain James Lawrence, hero of the War of 1812, famous for his dying words, "Don't Give Up The Ship!" Lawrenceville was selected as home to the Allegheny Arsenal, due to "The area's accessibility to river transportation and its proximity to what was then the nation's only iron producing district". Lawrenceville was annexed to the city of Pittsburgh in 1868. One of the original buildings, a log home built in the 1820s, survived until July 2011 at 184 38th Street.
... Today, Lawrenceville is undergoing a revitalization, and has been noted by The New York Times as a "go-to destination". Transplanted young hipsters and those who have lived in Lawrenceville for their entire lives dwell side by side, as the neighborhood's affordable housing has become a major draw for those looking to renovate an older home at a reasonable cost. The neighborhood is one of the premier art, live music, and dining hubs of Western Pennsylvania.
About the Speaker:
Jim Wudarczyk, retired after 40 years in the forest products industry. He is a Civil War buff, author, and Lawrenceville tour guide who knows his local history. Like the fact that some well-known paintings of Pittsburgh's Stephen Foster were done by early 20th century magazine illustrator Howard Chandler Christy.
July 14, 2015 (Tuesday)
"History of Colonel James Schoonmaker:
An Officer and A Gentleman and a Lot More"
Speaker: Historian, FRANK J KURTIK,
Born in Peebles Twp. (subsequently Pittsburgh) on June 30, 1842 to James Schoonmaker and Mary Clark Stockton. James was a student at the Western University of Pennsylvania when the American Civil War began and enlisted in a local company of recruits which was assigned to the 1st Maryland Cavalry, rising to the rank of lieutenant. During the next thirteen months, he proved himself repeatedly in battle and in command of his troops.
In August 1862, Schoonmaker was authorized by Secretary of War Edwin Stanton to raise the 14th Pennsylvania Cavalry Regiment, and was promoted to the rank of colonel. He later also commanded a cavalry brigade in the Cavalry Corps, under the command of Philip Sheridan. At the Third Battle of Winchester, September 19, 1864, Schoonmaker led his troops in a dismounted charge against Confederate artillery in Star Fort . It was for this action he received the Medal of Honor on May 19, 1899. The Medal of Honor citation reads: "During the Battle of Star Fort, Virginia, at a critical period, gallantly led a cavalry charge against the left of the enemy's line of battle, drove the enemy out of his works, and captured many prisoners."
About the Speaker, Frank Kurtik:
Currently based in Fayette County, Frank works independently as a researcher, writer and lecturer. His special field of interest is the history of Pittsburgh and Western Pennsylvania. Besides writing an introductory essay for Essence of Pittsburgh, a book about the work of the Lawrenceville-based artist, Ron Donoughe, Frank has written a number of articles for such publications as the Western Pennsylvania Historical Magazine, Carnegie Magazine and Western Pennsylvania History. His lecture topics have ranged from Western Pennsylvania iron furnaces to H. J. Heinz's Sunday School work to Monongahela rye whiskey.
Prior to his current work, Frank was a Research Fellow with the Heinz Family Foundation in Washington, D.C., and before that, he was Archivist and Special Projects Manager for the Heinz Family Office in Pittsburgh. Holding an M.A. in History from Duquesne University, Frank's initial professional position was as an archivist at the University of Pittsburgh, where he specialized in the care of historic photograph collections.
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