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St. John the Baptist Ukrainian Catholic Church

Three Rivers Heritage Trail

Architecture Migration & Immigration Religion

St. John the Baptist Ukrainian Catholic Church is known for its Byzantine style architecture, using distinctively shaped domes and the Greek cross.

In the early 19th century, glass- and ironworks began opening along the banks of the Monongahela River on Pittsburgh’s South Side. By the end of the 1830s, historian Leland Baldwin found that “the South Side possessed nine glass factories, seven ironworks, a foundry and a white lead factory,” which provided work for almost 1,000 men. [1] This industry drew immigrants to Pittsburgh, first from Ireland, Britain and Germany and later from Eastern Europe. [2] In the 1880s, Ukrainians began immigrating to the United States in search of work, and many settled in Central and Western Pennsylvania and found work in coal mines and steel plants. [3] Some of these immigrants ended up on Pittsburgh’s South Side, where in 1889 they established St. John the Baptist Ukrainian Catholic Church. The congregation bought a wood-frame church from a Lutheran congregation at the corner of East Carson and Seventh streets in 1891 and later erected a brick church rectory. The church’s eight iconic domes, seven turquoise and one gold, were constructed in 1917. [4] The building was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1974 and is also recognized by the Pittsburgh History and Landmarks Foundation, but St. John’s is much more than just a striking edifice. For decades, the church has had an active group of volunteers who roll, fill, pinch and sell pyrohy (pierogi), providing South Siders with a taste of Ukrainian tradition.

 

  • [1] Leland D. Baldwin, Pittsburgh: The Story of a City, 1750–1865 (Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press, 1937), 245– 47.
  • [2] Franklin Toker, Pittsburgh: A New Portrait (Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press, 2009), 160.
  • [3] Richard T. Schaefer, ed., Encyclopedia of Race, Ethnicity, and Society (London: SAGE Publications, 2008), 1341.
  • [4] Nick Kostiuk, “History of the St. John The Baptist Ukrainian Catholic Church,” in Diamond Jubilee Book (1967); Clyde Hare, “(Overview: South Side, Saint John the Baptist Ukrainian Catholic Church),” photo, 1951, Carnegie Museum of Art Collection of Photographs; Toker, Pittsburgh, 164.
References

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