Fire site development will be the focus at the community meeting on Wednesday, November 6


At the November community meeting, on Wednesday the 6, the discussion will focus on the fire site development.  The team selected to develop the site will be on hand to introduce themselves to residents.  We’ll sketch out the next steps in planning, and residents can share their thoughts.

The meeting is on the lower level of the West Penn Recreation Center, 450 30th Street, and will start at 6:30 p.m.

Polish Hill trick-or-treat traffic calming


During trick-or-treating, volunteers will be posted at two intersections with signs to remind drivers to slow down.

During the trick-or treat hours on Thursday October 31, neighborhood volunteers will be posted at two intersections in Polish Hill to slow down traffic and award safe drivers with a treat.  The two intersections are Melwood Avenue at Finland Street and Dobson and Hancock streets.  The two intersections were  chosen because they were in parts of the neighborhood with a lot of kids.

If you’re walking or driving, show your support for this traffic calming effort — and have a safe and fun Halloween!

Sarney's bar sold, meet the new owners at a public meeting on July 29

Sarneys bar, at 3055 Brereton Street, a longtime Polish Hill establishment, is in the process of changing hands.  The new owners will be coming to Polish Hill on Monday, July 29 at 6:00 p.m.  for a public meeting to discuss their plans for the property and to answer any questions that residents might have.  The meeting will held at the PHCA office.

A close-up look at the lightning damage in the IHM church dome

Cary Toaso, a photojournalist and satellite truck operator with WTAE-TV, just shared some amazing photographs with us of the inside of the very top section of the dome of the Immaculate Heart of Mary church, where the lightning hit on Tuesday.  These photographs were taken by WTAE-TV chief photographer TJ Haught.

The lightning hit the structure that sits atop the largest dome, so high up that it’s not easily visible from the ground. The domes are wood, covered with copper sheathing, so most of the damage was on the inside.

The structure is accessed by a wooden ladder.

Here’s the hole where the lightning struck, and the charred timbers.

A closeup of the hole, and the torn copper sheathing.

A closeup of the burnt timbers.  The timbers are over a hundred years old.

Rubble on the floor.  The photo is blurry because the space is small and dark.

Two views of the ladder, looking down.  The firefighters had to climb this ladder to extinguish the fire.  The arched openings are the ones the firemen were standing in, as seen in our post from Tuesday.

A resident behind the church who witnessed the lightning strike told us that it happened around 4:30.  No one saw smoke until about 5:30.  Considering how long the fire smoldered before it was noticed, it’s amazing there wasn’t more damage.  It could have been a lot worse, and we’re very grateful that it wasn’t.

Another demolition UPDATED

A cute little red house at 332 Hancock — one that unfortunately turned out to have irreparable structural issues — is the latest Polish Hill demolition.  Safety is important, but it’s sad to see another bit of the fabric of the old neighborhood lost.

Current building codes make putting new buildings in narrow spaces like these problematic, and sometimes impossible.  The commonly used term is “missing teeth”, and Polish Hill has a lot of them.  In many places, they’ve become green spaces, either wild or cultivated, and provide relief from tightly packed buildings.

UPDATE:  We just got some more information about what’s going to happen on this site.  The owners of 332 Hancock have been working with Forecast D/B to design (and subsequently build) a new house on this property,  one with a high level of LEED certification.  When the new house is done, the owners will become Polish Hill residents.  As mentioned, infill projects such as this one can be difficult under current codes.  This will be an ambitious project that will add something special to Hancock Street.

Call for submissions for the Polish Hill Voice

The Polish Hill Voice is the PHCA’s quarterly newsletter, sent to all addresses in Polish Hill.  The Voice is where the PHCA reports on neighborhood projects, upcoming events, volunteer opportunities, and more.  It’s also a place to show the community as it was, and what it’s becoming.  To that end, we are always looking for more people to write for the newsletter.   The Spring – Summer issue is being compiled now, and the call for submissions goes out again.  Articles, short pieces, news items, photos — as long as they are about Polish Hill people and happenings.  If you have an idea, get in touch!

Here is the archive of back issues of the newsletter.

Birdhouses for spring

The monument committee cleared and redecorated the little parklet at the monument at Brereton and Dobson for spring.  They adorned the small trees with the birdhouses from last year’s contest.  A welcome sign of spring, just in time for the Easter weekend.  Many thanks to the monument committee for all their hard work!

(Photos by Leslie Clague for the PHCA)

Calling on the Polish Hill snow and ice clearing team!

It’s still snowing at the moment, and it’s very pretty, but we’re already thinking about what comes next:  clearing the snow and preventing ice from forming.  Our stair stewards have already begun their work.  For other neglected stretches of sidewalk or steps, we’re calling on any other residents who feel like helping out.  If you have a shovel, some energy, and maybe an extra bag of salt, your help is needed.  First, look around your street.  Are there sidewalks in front of empty buildings, or a bus stop?  Are there elderly or disabled residents who might not be able to clear their sidewalks?

If your street looks well-cleared, put that shovel over your shoulder and take a walk around the neighborhood.  It’s not just shoveling that’s needed.  The temperatures have been below freezing for so many days that already icy conditions become more dangerous for being hidden underneath a new layer of snow.

We’ve already heard from one resident on Phelan who reports a massive ice slick (water from underground streams flow over the street year-round) that is endangering pedestrians and cars alike.  There’s a salt box near the top of Phelan, left by the City to help residents battle the icing problems that have bedeviled this byway for decades.  As the icy patches are on a road, we’ve 311’d it, and the City salt trucks should show up.  But Phelan is a less-used side street, so help might not be for a little while.  If you live near Phelan, or just feel like helping out, let’s get some salt or other traction on the icy patches.

(A group of volunteers head out to shovel after the big snowstorm of February 2010.  PHCA photo)

Call for volunteers: help distribute the Polish Hill Voice

The neighborhood newsletter, the Polish Hill Voice, is mailed to PHCA members and is also available at some local businesses and at the church.  But many residents still don’t see the newsletter, and many who aren’t online don’t see Blogski or receive the e-blast — other places where we provide updates on neighborhood happenings and PHCA projects.   We would like to help keep more residents informed about neighborhood news and developments.  To that end, the PHCA is now working to get funding to print and mail copies of the Voice to every household in Polish Hill.

Until that funding is in place, we’re calling for volunteers to help us distribute the November issue of the newsletter.  This is something that volunteers can do at their own, and a number of people have stepped forward to help out.  But there are still a number of streets left for distribution.  If you have an hour or two to spare sometime in the next several days, and would be willing to help out, please contact us.  Call 412.681.1950 or email

Here is the current (November) issue of the Polish Hill Voice, and here is the page with more back issues.