Though its Northside campus has since expanded, the Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh
’s original building has a storied past.
When the museum opened in 1983, it was located in the lower level of the historic Allegheny Post Office Building, constructed in 1897. The Children’s Museum shared the building with the organization that saved the site from demolition, the Pittsburgh History and Landmarks Foundation
, according to the museum’s deputy director Chris Siefert.
“The area has a lot of history because it used to be the center of Allegheny City,” Siefert said. Allegheny was annexed by Pittsburgh in 1907.
Siefert explained that young preservationists, who later created the Pittsburgh History and Landmarks Foundation, saved the Allegheny Post Office Building in the ‘60s — after 500 Allegheny City buildings were demolished. In 1987, the conservation group expanded and deeded the building to the Children’s Museum, which has continued to grow.
The Post Office Building was located across the street from Buhl Planetarium, constructed in the 1930s. When the planetarium was vacated by the Carnegie Science Center in 1991, the Children’s Museum worked with the city to expand their campus and connect the two historic buildings. This expansion opened in 2004, Siefert said.
The 115 plus year-old building has some historic holdovers. Siefert pointed out the museum’s post office architecture, with Greek columns, dentils and a rotunda.
Siefert said while the building was in use as a post office, the dome was restricted — the public had to stay on its perimeter. This rotunda still has an original safe door, though today it does not function as a safe and is permanently sealed.
This post is the first in a “Throwback Thursday” series highlighting Pittsburgh’s revitalized historic buildings.
Writer: Caroline Gerdes
Source: Chris Siefert, Children's Museum of Pittsburgh