Essential Pittsburgh
2:34 pm
Wed February 19, 2014

The Historic Fort Pitt Block House Celebrates its 250th Anniversary

The Fort Pitt Block House is celebrating its 250th Anniversary this year.
Credit Kevin Myers / wikipedia

Throughout 2013, the Fort Pitt Society conducted a 10-month preservation and restoration project at the Fort Pitt Block House. This undertaking came just in time, as 2014 marks the 250th anniversary of the structure.

The Fort Pitt Block House curator Emily Weaver is very involved in discovering the history of the block house and sharing it with the public, as she did in her book, The Fort Pitt Block House.

“The Fort Pitt Block House is the oldest building in the city of Pittsburgh, so that obviously makes it very special to us. It’s been standing in its same location for 250 years, never moved, and its the only original structure that we have left of Fort Pitt, one of the largest British forts in North America during the 18th century....A symbol of our earliest beginnings here in the Pittsburgh region."

According to Weaver, the building was originally constructed during the French-Indian war and its main use was defending against Native Americans.

“A block house is a type of defensive structure and was used commonly in the 18th century as part of a defense for a fort," says Weaver "So there were originally five block houses around the outside walls of Fort Pitt, of course the Block House is the only one of those five left standing today. But soldiers would stand inside the building and if you ever go down there, you’ll see little openings in the walls, those are called gun loops, like a loophole, and that is where the soldiers could fire their guns at anyone trying to attack Fort Pitt.”

To commemorate the 250th anniversary, the Fort Pitt Block House has several events coming up.

“On April 24th, we’ll be having the dedication of the Edith Ammon Memorial Garden, which is a memorial to the early women of the daughters of the American Revolution, in August we’ll be having our outdoor event to celebrate Block House 250, and in September we’ll have the Gala event in the Wyndham Grand."