Ranked #14 of 25 Cultural in Pittsburgh
The Fort Pitt Block House was originally constructed in 1764 as a defensive redoubt for Fort Pitt, a key British...
The Fort Pitt Block House was originally constructed in 1764 as a defensive redoubt for Fort Pitt, a key British fortification during the French and Indian War. As the Block House is the only surviving structure left of Fort Pitt, it holds much significance to Pittsburgh and the surrounding area. The oldest authenticated structure in Western Pennsylvania, it is part of the National Historic Landmark of the Forks of the Ohio.The building was first used to defend the fort from Native American Indian attacks during the mid-18th century. After the British abandoned Fort Pitt in 1772, the Block House was used as a trading post for a number of years. During the American Revolution Fort Pitt served as the western headquarters for the Continental Army. Following the Revolution the United States Army decided to slowly dismantle the fort and replace it with a smaller garrison called Fort Fayette.The Block House survived the demolition of Fort Pitt because it was converted into a single-family dwelling in 1785. Over the next one hundred years, different families of various sizes, classes and backgrounds lived in the Block House. In the 1840s it became a multi-family tenement with a family living in the upstairs room and another family living downstairs. During the 19th century the Point District, the former area of Fort Pitt and where the Block House is located, became one of the poorest and most densely populated neighborhoods of Pittsburgh. In 1894 the Block House was gifted to the Pittsburgh Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) by the structure’s owner, Mary Schenley. An extensive initial restoration was needed to convert the Block House back to its original form. In 1902, the structure faced possible demolition to make way for the construction of warehouses and railway terminals. The Fort Pitt Society, an all-female and all volunteer group, stood up to the Pennsylvania Railroad and powerful industrialists such as Henry Clay Frick to save the Block House – something unheard of at the time. The Block House has survived numerous floods throughout its history, most recently in 2004 during Hurricane Ivan when the water reached halfway up the building’s stone foundation.Under the guardianship of the Fort Pitt Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution of Allegheny County the Block House has remained free and open to the public as a historical site and museum for almost 120 years. Privately owned and operated the Block House receives no state or federal funding and each year welcomes more than 20,000 visitors from local school children to international tourists. It has been described by many as the “jewel of Point State Park.”