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First Presbyterian Church of Pittsburgh - National Fund For Sacred Places
2021 Cohort

First Presbyterian Church of Pittsburgh

Pittsburgh, Pensylvania

First Presbyterian Church of Pittsburgh is the oldest surviving institution of any kind in Pittsburgh and the mother church of Presbyterian churches in the surrounding area.

First Presbyterian Church of Pittsburgh by Barbara Friend

First Presbyterian Church of Pittsburgh by Barbara Friend

2021 Cohort

First Presbyterian Church of Pittsburgh

Pittsburgh, Pensylvania

First Presbyterian Church of Pittsburgh is the oldest surviving institution of any kind in Pittsburgh and the mother church of Presbyterian churches in the surrounding area.

The congregation traces its roots back to 1758 when a chaplain preached about the English victory at Fort Duquesne during the French and Indian War. Early trustees of First Presbyterian attended this sermon, developing a congregation over the next two decades. Founders of First Presbyterian became leading merchants and industrialists who helped transform Pittsburgh into the “City of Steel.” The congregation has met in buildings of increasing grandeur over time: a 1786 log church, a brick church, an 1855 stone church, and the present Gothic Revival church. The current structure was designed in 1905 by Theophilus Chandler Jr., an early preservation architect who founded the University of Pennsylvania’s architecture department. The church houses distinct stained-glass windows, including Tiffany-designed windows with rare painted decoration.

First Presbyterian identifies as a “church in the heart of the city with the city in its heart.” The church prioritizes supporting disenfranchised and marginalized community members. With nonprofit partner Outreached Arms, First Presbyterian serves weekly meals to food-insecure neighbors. The congregation also distributes food, toiletries, and clothes to about 2,000 individuals or families each year. First Presbyterian collaborates with Point Park University to provide the city’s unsheltered population with safe gathering spaces, such as the church’s cafeteria. Youth chamber music ensembles also utilize the church as a practice space.

With a $200,000 National Fund grant and $400,000 in matching funds raised by the congregation, First Presbyterian will complete roof repairs, including replacing roofing, flashing, gutters, and downspouts to ensure that the church can continue safely hosting religious services and community programming.

First Presbyterian Church of Pittsburgh by Jesse Belfast

First Presbyterian Church of Pittsburgh by Barbara Friend

Stories and Media Coverage

Read more about how the National Fund for Sacred Places is helping congregations around the country rehabilitate their sacred places.

Lafayette Avenue Presbyterian Church by Luis P. Gutierrez