Pittsburgh's Fort Pitt Blockhouse celebrates quarter-millennium
Alan Gutchess says the Fort Pitt Blockhouse has a meaning that surpasses its role as a historical site.
“It has always been an eyewitness to Pittsburgh, whether as a fortification that protected the town, a building overlooking an industrial site, or now, as part of Point State Park,” says the director of the Fort Pitt Museum.
The blockhouse is 250 years old this year, and its history as the oldest building in Pittsburgh is being celebrated Aug. 9 and 10 at its location next to the museum. While the old brick building seems like part of the museum, it is owned and operated by the Fort Pitt Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution, while the museum is part of the Senator John Heinz History Center.
Events will be from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. both days throughout both sites. A key event will be at 2 p.m. Aug. 9 with Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto, historian David Wilson and the River City Brass Quintet.
The Emerald Society Pipes and Drums will perform at noon Aug. 9, when a British 6-pound cannon will be fired, and the British Red Ensign flag will be raised.
Besides the events, Gutchess says, re-enactors from the museum will illustrate blacksmithing and log-hewing, trying to illustrate how the blockhouse was put together — and the strengths that allowed it to stand for a quarter-millennium.
The blockhouse is the only one remaining of three built in 1764 and two constructed later to provide added fortification on the water sides of the fort, he says. Serious flooding the previous two years had weakened the earthen walls on the water sides, causing British Col. Henry Bouquet to see the need for the redoubts.
The location of the other blockhouses is not known, but this one is in its original site, having never been “razed or rebuilt,” Gutchess says.
The blockhouses evidently had names, too; this one was called the “Bouquet blockhouse.” Another was named after Gen. James Grant, Gutchess says, and the others are unknown.
As the oldest building in the area, Gutchess says, the blockhouse always has played an important role in the image of Pittsburgh.
“In the 19th and early 20th centuries, the blockhouse was the symbol of Pittsburgh,” he says. “Not the Point, not the fountain, but the blockhouse. You'd see it everywhere from postcards to beer cans.”
Bob Karlovits is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at email@example.com or 412-320-7852.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Conventional gas, oil drillers seek rules differing from shale industry in Pennsylvania
- Man dies in jump from Route 130 overpass onto passing tractor-trailer in Hempfield
- Starkey: Penguins’ season impressive so far
- Hornqvist’s net-front presence with Penguins could be valuable asset
- Man shot in attempted home invasion in North Braddock
- Figure in probe of improper influence in federal investor visa program gave Rendell $15K illegally
- Alle-Kiski roundup: Knoch baseball topples Hampton
- Penguins a love affair for Evancho sisters
- Pitt football team working to fatten up QB sack total on defense
- Pennsylvania religious freedom law does not extend to for-profits
- Ex-prosecutor concerned with latest Pa. child abuse findings