Pittsburgh – October 2018 – Doors Open Part 2

Doors Open Pittsburgh continues…

 

Koppers Building – When it was completed in 1929 this 35 floor building was topped out at 475 feet high, making it Pittsburgh’s tallest for a time (passed a short time later by the Gulf Tower).

Constructed of polished granite and Indiana limestone, it is an excellent example of Art Deco.

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Lets head inside.

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As we entered we were greeted by a couple of the more than 200 volunteers. Events like this rely on volunteers, and all weekend we met welcoming, enthusiastic people who made the visits more worthwhile. A big thank you to all of the volunteers, but on to the visit….

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The three story lobby has a variety of marble finishes.

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There is significant use of bronze throughout the lobby including another great mailbox.

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Do you ever wonder where the elevator is? Not in this building!

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The cool clock collection continues…

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Even the handrail is stylish.

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First Lutheran Church – One stop that was not originally on our itinerary was the First Lutheran Church, but a hard rain shower had come along so we ducked inside.

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They are proud of the fact that this church was the first English speaking Lutheran church west of the Alleghenies, having been founded in 1837.

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The ceiling is amazing.

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As is the pipe organ.

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As with most churches, this one has some very ornate stained glass windows.

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Union Trust Building – Another building built by Henry Clay Frick, the Union Trust Building was completed in 1916 in a Flemish Gothic structure.

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It is believed that the roof is modeled after the Woolworth Building in New York, with the terra cotta dormers and mechanical towers that look like chapels.

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Even with this stunning roof, the most amazing feature of this building is the lobby, and its massive atrium leading up to the skylight.

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A closeup of the skylight.

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What a great building.

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The clock tour continues in the Union Trust Building.

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As does the mailbox tour.

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City/County Building – As we continued our day it became obvious that Pittsburgh experienced a massive building boom in the 1910s. Another example of this boom is the City/County Building, which was completed in 1916.

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The entire build emphasized local resources, from the architects to the materials and construction workers, it was directed that all the resources should come from Allegheny County.

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The lobby features a bust of William Pitt.

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As well as sculpted columns.

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Our visit included a stop at the Mayor’s office.

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Pittsburgh is noteworthy for their unique dialect, differing from the rest of the country with the accents and use of words. The most common of these is ‘Yinz’, which is Pennsylvanian for Y’all. Another is the way that downtown is pronounced (Dahntahn), and is celebrated with this sign in the Mayor’s office.

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Also open were the Council Chambers, located directly next to the Mayor’s Office.

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Oliver Building – The Henry Oliver Building is located directly across Smithfield Street from Mellon Square. Completed in 1910, the 25 story building now contains offices and an Embassy Suites hotel.

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The building was designed by Daniel Burnham. Interestingly other than Chicago, Pittsburgh has the most Burnham buildings still standing (7), and when first built they were actually taller than those in Chicago. It is thought by some that this is as a result of the steel barons, whose steel was required for the skyscrapers, for this ego boosting building boom.

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The building features another great safe.

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Art Deco is used throughout.

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The mailbox collection continues….

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The highlight however was being permitted to go check out the 25th floor lobby of the Embassy Suites, and the views from the windows throughout the floor.

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continued…..

 

Kokomo, Indiana – July 2018 – Hot Times in a Glass Factory

Kokomo, Indiana is a city of 50,000 in north central Indiana, about 50 miles north of Indianapolis. Always an industrial town, Kokomo was surprisingly a nice town.

We were in town to take a factory tour (below) but while we waited we checked out all of the places in town noted on Roadside America.

The first site is the Seiberling Mansion. Built in the late 1800s it is a stately home along Sycamore Street.

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In the middle of town is the Kokomantis – a 17′ high steel sculpture of a mantis.

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A block down the street is the Storybrook Express, a quirky building used for a drive through beer distributor.

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Finally in Highland Park are two attractions including Big Ben who was thought to be the largest steer in history at over 5000 pounds.

He is now stuffed and on display inside a shelter behind glass.

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Also in this shelter is the remains of a giant sycamore tree. This stump is 57′ in circumference.

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Our main event for the day was a tour of the Kokomo Opalescent Glass Company. It is the oldest manufacturer of opalescent glass in the world, with this factory in continuous use since 1888.

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Our tour started next to the furnace. We were about 50′ away and it was 120 degrees.

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They use an assortment of ladles for pouring the glass.

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The vintage carts have already mixed material for the various colors ready for the furnace.

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When they are done the pieces of glass are placed in barrels scattered about the factory for remelting and forming later.

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A few of the ovens.

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KOG is famed for their skilled glass blowers. We were treated to a demonstration.

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A trainee demonstrated how to blow glass.

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Our tour consisted of a number of elderly from a church and two moms who had 9 kids between them! As you can see the kids were thrilled to be there.

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Our tour took us back past the furnace area.

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Once completed, the glass is inventoried. With hundreds of colors and patterns the selection is immense.

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The storage reminded me of the end of the first Indiana Jones movie.

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Throughout the history of the company the workers have signed a wall, with some signatures dating back to the 1800s.

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They have high skilled workers who can customize the glass for various uses, including stained glass panel replacements.

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The pubic has the opportunity to come in and make their own glass beads.

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Another one of the skilled workers with some detail glass work.

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The Kokomo Opalescent Glass Company is a great place for a visit.

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