a newspaper man adjusts his pen

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Fort Pitt Blockhouse

Blockhouse , originally uploaded by Scott Beveridge.

The Fort Pitt Blockhouse not only has the distinction of being the oldest building in Pittsburgh but it’s the oldest West of the Allegheny Mountains.

The brick and stone redoubt dates to 1764, when it took shape under orders from British Col. Henry Bouquet, who was famous for his understanding of wilderness warfare. He used to trick Indians into defeat by pretending to retreat during battle only to return and strike after they let down their guard.

The tiny blockhouse was built to provide quick cover for people caught outside Fort Pitt when it came under attack. Once inside, marksmen could take aim at their attackers from firing holes that encircle the building that was built after the British captured the Point from the French in 1759.

It survived because it had been converted into a dwelling in the 1830s and later became neglected when the Golden Triangle turned into one of the poorest sections of the city.

During the 1930s, the house was saved from demolition by the Daughters of the American Revolution, restored and named to the National Registry of Historic Landmarks. The DAR came to its rescue again when Pennsylvania began to develop Point State Park, and it’s now part of the Fort Pitt Museum.

There is a small museum and gift shop inside, where buttons and coins uncovered during an archeology dig are on display. There is no admission.

1 comment:

Kelly Linn said...

Just to clarify...the Block House was converted to a residence in 1785 and then served as a dwelling until 1894 when it was gifted to the Pittsburgh Chapter of the DAR by Mary Schenley. At that time it was restored to the appearance of a military redoubt and opened a year later as a museum of the French and Indian War Period. It was listed as a National Historic Landmark in 1960 along with the entirety of the then newly constructed Point State Park. The Block House is still owned and preserved by the DAR and is not part of the Fort Pitt Museum, a state-owned facility. The Block House has never charged an admission fee and as a self-supporting, privately-owned museum, the sale of gift items support the continuing conservation of the structure as well as on-going research and historic programs at the site.

Kelly Linn
Curator - Fort Pitt Block House