The Polish Hill Pivotal Streets Façade Renovation Grant Program returns for the third year!


The application period is now open for homeowners to apply for a matching grant of up to $5,000 per property for residential façade (street-facing) renovations.  Improvements could include:

✒ Replacing gutters, siding, windows and doors
✒ Painting trim or porches
✒ Planting permanent landscaping
✒ Repairing or replacing sidewalks, steps or retaining walls

Applications are due by March 31, 2015.  An independent committee including contractors, architects and design professionals will review applications and award funds.  Grants are competitive and funds are limited.  Awards will be announced on April 17, 2015.  Homeowners must pay for all work up front.  The grant is paid out as a reimbursement check and is not paid until the work is completed.

The program application, guidelines, and design guide are available on our website or at the PHCA office.  For more information, call 412.681.1950 or email us.

Brereton Street, 1953

CharlesRicharcson_Brereton_IHM church_boys playing_1953

Here’s a wonderful photo of Brereton Street that was just added to the online Historic Pittsburgh Image Archive. The photo was taken in 1953 by Charles Richardson.

To the left of the church is 3060 Brereton, now the office of the Polish Hill Civic Association.  At the time, it was a shop that sold candy and cigars.

Check out the Historic Pittsburgh archive to see all sorts of fascinating material from Pittsburgh past, including maps, census data, and photos.  New material is added regularly and is searchable by neighborhood or streets.

Green committee meeting for volunteers on January 27


The Green Committee (aka the PHCA Green Team) is always looking for more volunteers.  The committee will have it’s first 2015 meeting at the PHCA office on January 27 at 6:30 p.m.  At the meeting, we’ll be discussing goals for this year, scheduling cleanups, and more. (There will probably be snacks, too.)  Anyone interested in being involved in green projects this year is encouraged to attend.  Please RSVP by calling us at 412.681.1950 or emailing

(Photo:  Green team volunteers during a neighborhood cleanup, June 2014.  Photo by Leslie Clague)

While we’re on the topic of green stuff, Grow Pittsburgh is again offering a great class for those who are thinking about getting into gardening this year.

a garden

A Garden Primer is a 3-part educational series offered in February and March. The class covers all the basics, including which tools beginner gardeners will need, what and where to plant and when to harvest.

The February series is on Tuesdays: February 3, 10 and 17.  The March series is on Thursdays:  March 5, 12 and 19.  Both options are from 6:30-8:30 p.m. and are held at the East Liberty Presbyterian Church on 116 S. Highland Avenue.  The course is $50 for Grow Pittsburgh members or $60 for the general public. Free childcare and a limited number of scholarships are available. For more information, email Jake or call 412-362-4769.

West Penn Recreation Center 2015 Programs


West Penn Recreation Center has released their 2015 program guide with new programs for kids and adults.

Exercise rooms
Open 9 a.m. – 9 p.m. Mon – Fri,  10 a.m. – 3 p.m. on Saturdays.  Fee: $5/month for unlimited visits.

Athletic Trauma Unit (Mondays 8-9 p.m.)
A workout group dedicated to help everyone reach their own personal fitness goals.  Free.

Girls Volleyball
Ages 9-16.  Registration and info meeting January 5th 7 p.m.  Fee:  $20.

Yoga    (Mondays 6:30 – 7:30 p.m.)
Starting in January, with instructor Caitlin Laskey of Pittsburgh Yoga Collective..  Fee:  $20 for 12 sessions.

Bocce Ball League (Wednesdays 10 – 12 p.m. )
Starting Jan. 7.  For adults 18 and over.  Fee:  $10 for the season.

Youth/Teen Karate  (Wednesdays and Fridays)
Co-ed groups 8-11 yr (6-7 p.m.) and 12-17 yr (7-8 p.m.).  Fee:  $20/12 sessions

Kindersports (Tuesdays 10 – 11 a.m.)
Starting in February.  For kids 0-5 years old and a parent.  Fee:  $20/12 sessions.

Youth Soccer (Fridays 6-7 p.m.)
Starting in February.  Co-ed ages 6-8.  Fee:  $10.

And coming up this spring and summer,
Sand Volleyball (starting in June)
Summer Sports Camp, a weeklong camp focusing on single sports, including basketball, volleyball, soccer, skateboarding, and more.

All fees go to the West Penn Advisory Council to benefit youth programming and equipment needs.  Check out the West Penn 2015 Program Guide for more details.  To register for any program or for more information, call 412.622.7353 or email

Immaculate Heart of Mary Church hosts Pittsburgh Mass Mob on December 28


Mass mobs are bringing people into under-attended churches in Buffalo, Detroit, New York City, Rochester, Cleveland, and Philadelphia. The groups select old churches, advertise a particular date for Mass, attracting people who might not have known about the church. Now the idea has come to Pittsburgh, and the Pittsburgh Mass Mob will be in Polish Hill on December 28.


On Sunday, December 28, the Immaculate Heart of Mary Church is hosting the Pittsburgh Mass Mob at their 11:00 a.m. Mass. There will be a tour plus a social after Mass so that people can visit and reconnect. Elizabeth Davis of Pittsburgh Mass Mob says that they had almost 200 people show up for their last Mass Mob, and they hope to get even more people for this one. They also hope that alumni and people who have moved away will come back to celebrate this gorgeous historic Catholic Church and the neighborhood’s history.




For those who have not attended a service at Immaculate Heart of Mary Church (or those who have not been in a while), Christmas is a particularly good time to make a visit, as the church is beautifully decorated.  (These fabulous photos of Immaculate Heart of Mary Church were taken by Patrick Singleton in December 2012.)

Read more about mass mobs:
An NPR article about Mass mobs around the country

An article in the Tribune-Review about the Pittsburgh Mass Mob



Damage caused by speeding on Herron Avenue

120914HerronS-curve_sign hit

Last night a car drove up on the hillside at the Herron Avenue S-curve, knocking over the neighborhood sign and flattening the bushes and plantings. This part of the curve is hit frequently; the stone wall was badly damaged by another vehicle this fall. This is also where pedestrians cross, so the frequency of accidents is of particular concern.

Incidents like this highlight the need for long-term solutions to the problem of speeding and cut-through traffic. The issue is complicated.  Roads are public thoroughfares and Polish Hill’s location means that it’s the only quick route between certain points, so vehicles are going to come through. City traffic engineers and Zone Traffic Division are looking at the problem and have advised us that the best way to address the issue is to make it difficult for drivers to speed. If it’s not as quick and easy to cut through Polish Hill, more drivers will stay on the main roads, and the vehicles that do come through will move more slowly.

We’re collecting feedback from residents in order to see what traffic calming measures they want, and where, with the Polish Hill Traffic Calming Survey. The majority of responses thus far support speed humps (not speed bumps, which are higher). The most-requested location is Melwood Avenue, followed by Herron Avenue and Paulowna Street, all streets that are particularly affected by cut-through rush hour traffic.

Another way to support traffic calming solutions is to file a 311 report. Let the City know the impact that speeding and cut-through traffic have on you, and what solutions you want to see.


Polish Hill Civic Association Election Results

PHCA Square Identity Facebook

The Polish Hill Civic Association is excited to announce the results of the PHCA board election. Our new president will be John Rhoades. Valerie Testa will be Vice President, and Kalie Pierce will be 2nd Vice President and Membership Chair.

The six directorships up for election were filled by: Susan Atkinson, Mark Knobil, Catherine McConnell, Myrna Newman, Josiah Parkinson, and Ruth Rizner. All terms are for two years.

Congratulations to all the winners. They will be sworn in at the January 6 community meeting, which will take place at 6:30 p.m. on the lower level of the West Penn Recreation Center.

We are grateful to all the individuals who stepped forward as candidates. A record number of people cared enough to be willing to take on the responsibility and the extensive time commitment of being a PHCA board member. Thanks to all the people who were willing to make this commitment. We hope that all will remain as involved as ever.

This year saw strong participation in the board election.  It was very encouraging to see so many residents engaged and interested in the organization and its work in the neighborhood. We hope that this interest and engagement continues. The great benefits to our neighborhood come when residents work together.

Holiday shopping in Polish Hill: books, craft items, music and more

Lili holiday sale

Lili Cafe will have a one day holiday craft sale on Sunday December 14 from 3 – 8 p.m.  Many of the items are by Polish Hill artists and craftspeople.  There are also Lili Cafe gift certificates, so you can treat a friend to good coffee and food anytime they want.

Also in Polish Hill, check out:

Mindcure Records — upstairs from Lili, an excellent record shop with music in many genres, plus releases from the Mindcure label.  Open Tue – Sat 12 – 8 and Sun 12-5.  Phone:  412.621.1715.

Copacetic Comics — not just comics and graphic novels, Copacetic is also a very good small bookstore with lots of good bargain priced books; also cd’s, movies, cards and more.  If you’re not sure what to get, owner Bill Boichel can recommend something.  He can also order anything you want.  Open Mon – Fri 11-5, Sat 11-7, and Sun noon-5.  Phone:  412.251.5451.

Polish Hill Civic Association — t-shirts, holiday cards, notecards, postcards, and other items with a Polish Hill theme.  Items are also available in the online shore.  Sales benefit the organization.  Open Mon – Fri 10 – 6.  Phone:  412.681.1950.

Light Up and Holiday Potluck on Tuesday, December 2

3 trees

Polish Hill starts off the holiday season with three events on Tuesday, December 2.  All residents are welcome to attend!

5:30 – 6:00 p.m. Light Up at Brereton and Dobson Streets
Lighting the big fir at the monument, candy canes for the kids, and maybe some caroling.

6:30 – 8:30 p.m. General Community Meeting and Holiday Potluck at West Penn Recreation Center (lower level)
A short community meeting where the votes for the PHCA board election will be counted and the winners announced.  Then on to the fun:  visiting with neighbors over a big spread of food from some of the best cooks in Polish Hill.  Email us or call 412.681.1950 to let us know what you plan to bring.

Final week of the Three Rivers Film Festival


It’s the third and final week of the Three Rivers Film Festival, the oldest and largest film festival in the region.  The program this year includes sneak peeks, American and foreign dramas, documentaries, indies, restored classics and much more.  Any of these screenings would be worthy of attention; here are a couple that might be of particular interest to Polish Hill residents:

Thursday November 20    9:00 p.m. Mind Cure Records Presents
Polish Hill’s Mind Cure Records presents a night of local music and video collaborations.  This program showcases different ways that bands and musicians based in the Pittsburgh region are using the video medium to raise awareness of their music and themselves.  (At Brillobox, 4104 Penn Ave)
Wednesday, November 19  7:00 p.m.  The Saragossa Manuscript
Adapted from a novel by Jan Potocki, this is considered one of the great masterpieces of Polish cinema.  Co-presented by the Polish Cultural Council.  (At Regent Square Theater, 1035 Braddock Ave)

For more information, check out the festival website.