|INCREDIBLE DETAIL! CLICK PICTURE TWICE FOR FULL EFFECT
|UNION ARCADE BUILDING
JULY 20, 1916
|A view from the Carnegie Building at the corner of Cherry Way and Fifth Avenue,
looking east. Construction can be seen throughout the building, and the steeples on
the roof are framed in. The Union Arcade in downtown Pittsburgh was built for
Henry Clay Frick from 1915-1916, and opened for business in early 1917. Local
architect Frederick J. Osterling designed the Flemish-Gothic style building which
originally housed 240 retail shops and 700 offices throughout its 11 stories. The
building, featuring a soaring rotunda with a Tiffany glass dome, was one of three
buildings along Grant Street that Frick built in the early 1900s. In 1922 it became
known as the Union Trust Building and is currently identified as Two Mellon
All photos are credited to Photo Products Co. of Pittsburgh, a company located in
the neighboring Pittsburgh Times-Leader Building.
|Designed by Frederick J. Osterling, the building was constructed on the site of Pittsburgh's nineteenth
century St. Paul's Catholic Cathedral. It is not known to have been modeled after any particular
building, but Brussels Town Hall, Leuven Town Hall (both Brabantine Gothic) and the then-new
Woolworth Building have been suggested as influences.
The Union Trust Company purchased the structure in 1923, renaming it from the Union Arcade to the
Union Trust Building, as well as remodeling the first four floors.
Many people believe that the building's unique roof is the result of a restrictive covenant placed on the
land by its previous owner, the Diocese of Pittsburgh. One story is that the bishop at the time (Rev.
Richard Phelan) placed a restrictive covenant on the land when Frick purchased it so that, although it
would now have commercial purposes, residents would always remember the cathedral that once
stood there. Another story suggests that there is a requirement that a place of worship must be
maintained perpetually on the site, and thus there is supposedly a chapel in one of the towers to
comply. This is all urban legend - there was no restrictive covenant or other restriction in the original
1901 deed transferring ownership from religious to secular use.
On May 31, 1984 San Francisco 49ers, Pittsburgh Penguins and Pittsburgh Maulers owner Edward J.
DeBartolo, Sr. purchased the building.
In 2008, it was purchased by California investors Michael Kamen and Gerson Fox; by August 2012
the building was the subject of bankruptcy proceedings to avoid a sheriff's sale.
In 2014 the property was sold at a foreclosure auction for $14 million to its current owner, an affiliate
of Boston-based The Davis Companies. The Davis Companies' affiliate outbid lender SA Challenger.
Extensive restorations were completed in 2016 at a cost of $100 million, with two first-floor
restaurants opening and restoration of the tenth-floor theater yet to be completed.