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A visit on my home turf: Park Place landmarks. September 9, 2009

Posted by krbradford in National Register of Historic Places, Neighborhoods.
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Park Place SchoolLast weekend, I thought it would be nice to enjoy the beautiful weather and walk the streets of my neighborhood with a camera, taking photos of interesting things for all of you in the blogosphere. I live in the itty bitty neighborhood of Park Place, which is not actually big enough to be its own official neighborhood, or even to have its own article on Wikipedia. In fact, it’s pretty much impossible to find anything about the history of Park Place on the internet at all. There are rumors – supposedly Gene Kelly, who was born and raised in Pittsburgh, lived here in Park Place.* And once upon a time, this whole area used to be Peebles Farm. As one of the flattest neighborhoods in the city, I can see how it would have made nice farmland. Anyway, it’s all hearsay.

Park Place homesBut I think maybe Park Place has remained such a gem of a neighborhood because no one really knows about it. Technically part of Point Breeze, Park Place is separated from the rest of the borough by Frick Park, the second-largest urban park in the US. Because of this separation, it’s actually more convenient to Regent Square than to Point Breeze, and it’s also adjacent to Wilkinsburg, which is probably why the property values remain fairly low. Unfortunately, Wilkinsburg has a lot of crime and poverty, although we rarely see it here in our neighborhood. (Except for the guy who got shot a block away from our house earlier this summer. But that was a fluke.)

Despite being small, Park Place has a very active neighborhood association, which advocates for positive change in the neighborhood. A recent example is the street trees program, which was a grant that allowed us to receive over 40 trees to plant along the street to beautify the neighborhood. One went in front of our house.

Old Heidelberg, 2009Park Place also has two sites with listings on the Register of Historic Places. The first is the Park Place SchoolOld Heidelberg, 1911, which was initially a public elementary school, but has since been converted into attractive apartments. My boyfriend’s older brother went to school there before it closed. The other site is the Old Heidelberg Apartments, designed by architect Frederick G. Schiebler in 1908. On the left you can see what they look like now, and on the right is an old postcard I found on the Web that shows what they looked like in 1911.

So, take a look at the photo slideshow I put together of the walk around my neighborhood. Park Place is a special little spot with lots of Pittsburgh charm.

*9/28/09: My amazing boyfriend did some research and confirmed this rumor. Gene Kelly and his family lived on Kensington Street, part of the Park Place neighborhood directly adjacent to Frick Park.

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Comments»

1. John Farineau - February 27, 2010

I was a student at park place school from kindergarten (1943) until graduation (1952). It was a truly great neighborhood where everybody knew everybody. We had school dances and sometimes showed old movies in the gym. There was the local drug store and soda fountain down the street and the shady side ball field across the street. Wilkinsburg in those days was a nice safe town with three movie theaters and a train station to get to down town pittsburgh on. I have always had fond feeling for the area and the school. I’m happy to hear that it has maintained the nice area feel. Wish there were more places like it was in my day,

2. Jean Hudson Masco - May 17, 2010

Like John, I grew up in Park Place and attended Park Place School (K 1948, G – 1955). Still in contact with many of my classmates, we all marvel at our luck in living in that community and attending school there.

Kathy N, a former classmate, too me and my mother on a long driving tour a few years ago and the trip down memory lane was delightful. It’s so good to see it retains the sense of neighborhood and responsibility.

Thank you so much for sharing the photographic journey.

3. Kathi Niesemann Ferguson - May 17, 2010

I too attended Park Place School (1946 – 1955). I remember Shady Side Junior Academy across the street where we went sled-riding from after school until past dinnertime and even went sledding in the evenings. Gene Kelly did indeed live on New Kensington Street. I was fortunate enough to take my first dancing lessons from his mother and even got to sit on his lap…when I was very young and doing the Waltz of the Flowers or Chicory Chick. The corner of Penn and Braddock has changed, but the corner of Braddock and Forbes Street is still much the same. Frick Park still has its clay tennis courts, swings, slides and I think the Drug Store is still there too. I have many fond memories of Park Place and growing up there. I also remember walking safely to Wilkinsburg. To get there we often walked under the railroad station – spooking even then, but safe. We should try to gather all the Park Placers and have a reunion. Is anyone else interested?

4. krhocevar - May 18, 2010

It’s so nice to see how this post has brought back memories for others. I have only lived in Park Place for three years, but my boyfriend has lived in his Park Place house since 1979. It hasn’t taken me long to realize that Park Place, and Pittsburgh in general, is a really special place that doesn’t get the credit it deserves.

You all may be interested to learn that Park Place School is actually being turned back into a school. (I’m thrilled!) It’s part of Pittsburgh’s charter school program – this will house a portion of the Environmental Charter School at Frick Park – a publicly-funded grade school that places emphasis on protection and appreciation for the environment. So, once again, little feet will wander the halls of your old school. Great news, I think!

5. Jean Hudson Masco - May 18, 2010

It’s delightful to learn that Park Place will once again be a school. How fitting that it will be a magnet school.

6. Elva Muse Harris - May 18, 2010

I attended Park Place School from 1947 to 1955. Many of my fondest memories are of my friends at school. Our eighth grade graduating class had 15 students, if I remember correctly.

Nancy Reynolds - July 24, 2010

I too went to Park Place School, from 1934 until 1940. I began 4 year kindergarten in the fall of 1934,which was for four year old kindergarten. Starting children at that age allowed their mothers to work outside the home, helping out the family income during the Depression. It was a wonderful experience for me. We made a model of King Arthur’s castle durintg the time our teacher was reading us a version of “The Tales of King Arthur”! It was there that I began my lifelong love of school and learning.
All my teachers from first to fifth grade were my models for my 40 years as an elementary teacher. We went on field trips to Frick Park. Our music and art teachers were all creative and motivating. Miss Patterson, the principle, was a very kind and understanding woman. ( I remember her wearing lovely long black dresses, alway with a longyette on a silver chain.) My mother, a nurse, helped with the free vaccination program that also began in the ’30’s.

In 1941, when I was 11, my family moved to Mt. Lebanon, the fall before Pearl Harbor.

Anytime I’ve been back in Pittsburgh I made a poing to drive by and remember all those very happy and valuable years.

I was delighted to find this site while looking for some information about Park Place, and also getting a picture.

7. A. Darrell Dunning - August 16, 2010

I went to Park Place from 1963 to 1969, 3rd to 8th grade. I was chosen to transfer from Crescent in Homewood to Park Place, I guess it was the Pgh. Public School’s version of busing even though we still had to walk. I don’t fully remember any real negative events although looking back I’m sure there was some unrest in the community but fortunately it didn’t seem affect the children. We were accepted and by the time we graduated many strong bonds had formed.

We also went to Sterret for wood shop and mechanical drawing for boys and home economics for the girls once or twice a week. We also took field trips to see the Pittsburgh Symphony perform, that really fueled my love for music. I am grateful that I was able to attend Park Place, That experience enriched my life in many ways.

8. Austin B Sullivan, Jr - December 16, 2010

What a wonderful surprise to see Park Place School. My brother and I lived on Peebles Street, on the block where the trolley left Forbes Street and turned into Wilkensburg. We were there from ’44 until ’45 (2nd and 3rd grades for me) and I remember VJ day and the end of WW II. I had a crush on my art teacher and she broke my heart when she left teaching to work at the museum. And yes, I remember her name. Thanks for the memories.

9. Janet Sieff - January 5, 2011

Park Place School – I attended kindergarden through 8th grade from 1962 to 1971. I am in the process of writing a memoir about the experience and found this blog while doing some research. My memories are positive and some are very vivid. Back then the school population was about 200 and naturally integrated as the school drew from the Park Place neighborhood and from Homewood. No buses. Everyone walked to and from school as well as back home for lunch. Also I spent a lot of time in the business district of Wilkinsburg and in Frick Park. Public transportation was ample and common as it is today and I could get just about anywhere for coins. I worked at the Junction Pharmacy while in high school. It was a great neighborhood for growing up and I live about a mile away today. I will be sure to mark this blog and post my story when it is completed.


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