During my high school reunion in Pittsburgh Pennsylvania, I was able to take the opportunity to visit a few of the fine museums in the city from the heights of the industrial age, plus revisit some haunts from my days as a steel city youngster. I remember looking out my frosted bedroom window on a cold winter night at the coal and steel fire furnaces burning bright on the horizon.
Almost everyone on our black tarred street worked in the local coal mine known as Wildwood. When an emergency siren would shrill, the wives would either rush to the end of their driveway looking toward the mine, or they would pick up the phones on our shared party line where you could hear everyone’s panicking conversation. Anyway, I’m only digressing. Back to the present.
On a trip to the University of Pittsburgh’s Cathedral of Learning, I exited out the back door and saw the Heinz Chapel across the lawn about a stone’s throw away. Being from Pittsburgh, everyone there uses only the local ketchup called Heinz, so I was being pulled in. The chapel poked a gothic or maybe neo gothic spire into the blue sky. I’m not an architect to discern the difference but it was beautiful none-the-less.
The magnificent red doors and stunning stained glass windows reminded me of the 18 years living overseas and visiting many famous cathedrals. The chapel was a gift by Henry John (H.J.) Heinz to honor his mother and was dedicated in 1938.
As a kid growing up, we didn’t know much about the Heinz legacy, but you never saw any other competitor’s product other than Heinz on our tables. I was never really sure if they made 57 Varieties as advertised, but when I was old enough, my mother took me for a tour of the Pittsburgh Heinz factory. My youngest brother was the plant manager of a Pittsburgh glass plant that produced the Heinz vinegar bottles along with Seagram’s and other glass bottles.
The Heinz Chapel is non-denominational and they also do weddings. It is located at the intersection of 5th Avenue and South Bellefield Avenue in Pittsburgh. Parking is difficult as a traveler warning, so I suggest getting into a nearby parking garage and pay the fee. By the way, the famous Carnegie Museum of Art, Carnegie Natural History Museum, and Carnegie Library are right around the block.
More scenes from the beautiful interior of the chapel: