2016 Top Ten Soon Approaching


As you hopefully know by now, YPA’s annual Top Ten Preservation Opportunities event is quickly approaching.  This year’s Top Ten event will be held on Thursday, October 20th at The Frick in Point Breeze- if you have never had the opportunity to visit The Frick, this will be an excellent opportunity to experience one of Pittsburgh’s finest historic homes and multi-functional sites.

In this year’s Top 10 list you will find a diverse collection of structures from all over southwestern PA. As you may know, the Top 10 is culled together from a list of submissions sent in from the public over the course of the year and vetted by YPAs board of directors for inclusion. Interestingly enough, over a third of submissions this year included churches and places of worship. In Pittsburgh and across the country, finding a sustainable re-use to keep these beautiful buildings maintained and in active-use continues to be a challenge. To that extent, YPA will be hosting an event centered on that specific topic in February- be on the lookout for details in the coming months.

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Painting in the Park with YPA


On July 31st, BikePGH held its final Open Streets event for the summer of 2016.  OpenStreetsPGH is a family friendly event where residents and visitors alike get to experience Pittsburgh at the ground level and participate in activities and support and experience local businesses without the obstruction of vehicular traffic. The route for this particular Open Streets stretched from The Point in downtown Pittsburgh through the Northside, and across the West End Bridge to the West End Valley.

Part of what makes YPA membership so great is the opportunity for civic engagement and connection to the Pittsburgh community. YPA joined dozens of other organizations to volunteer to host tables and activities and direct bike and pedestrian traffic at major intersections. YPA was represented near the corner of Western Avenue and Brighton Road by the Allegheny Commons Pedestrian Bridge, one of our 2014 Top Ten Preservation Opportunities.

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Nominate Today #YPAtopten 2016!

unnamed (8)Who will make the list this year?

A grand old home? A unique bridge? A breathtaking view or landscape? That super awesome business district?

The Young Preservationists Association’s annual Top Ten Preservation Opportunity List is a chance to share your voice and your site’s voice for a chance for preservation and reuse!   Selected sites will be announced this fall on Thursday October 20th at The Frick.  But you have till Thursday September 1st to submit your site(s). 

Check out the criteria and nomination form here.  Make sure to include photos!

Sneak Peak: Discover the Mon Valley Top Ten Tour

This Saturday is our Discover the Mon Valley Top Ten Tour! <—— Full details here

The tour will include stops to Elizabeth (Allegheny County) and Monessen (Westmoreland County).  Each town has a unique history, heritage, and architecture.  Tour guides William Prince (Elizabeth) and Matt Sharrow (Monessen) will share stories about their hometowns and why preservation matters in the beautiful Mon Valley. Below is a sample photo collage of just some of the sites you may see including Top Ten sites Moose Building and Grande Theater (Elizabeth) and Monessen Saving and Trust Bank.

See you Saturday June 11th at 10AM in downtown Elizabeth!  Share photos and stories on social media with #YPAtopten #MonValley #ThisPlaceMatters



elizabeth bridge reflection

An iconic bridge crossing the Monongahela River

Moose ‘

How can you envision an adaptive reuse for this #YPAtopten site?

red lion

Details of a former bank building, now restaurant

streetscape few years ago

A streetscape from a few years ago, come see what’s new on our walking tour



500 look up

Look up and around to see this #YPAtopten site

monessen streetscape

Across from 500 Donner, Monessen Savings and Trust

monessen to be renovated

Soon to be renovated for new apartments


Active industry in this historic mill town


YPA Top 10 2015 – #1 – Frank and Seder


Standing beneath the Kaufmann’s/Macy’s Clock and looking directly across Smithfield Street allows one to see a fine example of Chicago School architecture in the heart of Downtown Pittsburgh. Built in 1918 by Jacob Frank and Isaac Seder to replace their original 1907 store that was destroyed by fire, this historic building takes us back to a time when emporiums with different departments of merchandise became very popular in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Mass transit – such as trains and streets cars – made travel easier into downtown, and elevators made it easier to get from one floor to the next. These innovations lead to a golden age for downtown retailers. Clever window displays and printed advertising helped to increase the draw of traffic, especially around the holidays.

Frank and Seder were Russian Jewish immigrants who opened their first store in Pittsburgh in 1907, and their business survived there until 1958. They did well enough in fact to also expand into Philadelphia, Detroit, and New York City, before finally ending their run of success in 1959. National retailers had by then invested heavily in suburban areas and this made it much more difficult for urban department stores to survive. This was in large part because of the shift away from public transit to the more universal use of automobiles for travel. The reason was obvious: malls offered free parking, downtowns did not.

Although the Frank  & Seder Department store sat directly across from Kaufmann’s, the two stores were known to help each other out. There is an illuminating story about how during a strike by sanitation workers, Kaufmann’s was allowed to store all of their garbage on the roof of Frank & Seder’s until the strike ended, thus not blocking any customers from entering the store.

Up until 2014, the Frank & Seder department store housed many different retail store and offices. Their store in Detroit has be rehabilitated and is now part of Loft of Merchants Row, which is a hopeful lesson here, because the current owners, Oxford Development, has plans to demolish the building and replace it with a glass tower building. These plans seem to be on hold, so hopefully there is now an opportunity for a meaningful discussion on repurposing this handsome building and restoring it to the luster it once enjoyed in the heart of the downtown retail district.

Written by Matthew Craig, Executive Director of the Young Preservationists Association of Pittsburgh