Fort Pitt Block House

On July 6, 1917 the Courier Junior of Ottumwa, Iowa published a short essay from Mary Elizabeth Champney, age seven: 

Now that everybody is talking about war and every little boy and girl loves our flag, the stars and stripes, I want to tell you about the Fort Pitt block house of Pittsburgh, Pa., that was built many years ago in 1764...[The caretaker] said all the people of Pittsburgh loved it and that hundreds of people visited it every year. They loved the name of Washington and that made the block house dear to them. 

What Miss Champney doesn’t mention, and likely didn’t know, is that just ten years earlier, the Block House had only narrowly escaped destruction. That the last surviving remnant of the French and Indian War still stood was due to the Fort Pitt Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution.

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."

Mark Nootbaar / 90.5 WESA

On a typical weekday in October about 70 visitors will wander in and out of the Fort Pitt Block House in Point State Park, since Florentijn Hofman’s giant rubber duck has been floating in the Allegheny River that number has grown by nearly 600 percent.

“It’s just been crazy,” said Block House curator Emily Weaver who has seen weekend visitation shoot through the roof.  “It’s been a lot like having the Three Rivers Regatta here every week.  It’s just been crazy.”

The Fort Pitt Block House is almost 250 years old, yet archeologists discovered something “new” on its grounds last weekend.

The Fort Pitt Block House was built in 1764, making it the oldest building in Pittsburgh, and it's survived the Revolutionary War and the Industrial Period. It has been a Block House, a trading post, a residence and is a national historic landmark.

A Block House is basically a guardhouse, where soldiers would go to fend off attacks on the fort.