Nestled on a hill in Riverview Park overlooking of Pittsburgh’s north side, the Allegheny Observatory is one of the major astronomical research institutions of the world. Its telescopes and instrumental equipment are available for use by students of the University of Pittsburgh, observatory astronomers teach credit and non-credit classes at the university, and there is a dedication to making programs available to the general public.
The building was constructed by the University of Pittsburgh in 1895 under the design of architect Thorsten Billquist and has since been home to some great minds in the field of Astronomy. The observatory’s exterior was in need of repair; the terra cotta was showing spalling (pieces of the surface breaking off), cracking, and erosion of mortar joints. Water had infiltrated through the deteriorated parapet and a subsequent freeze and thaw cycle broke the terra cotta pieces. Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission’s Keystone Historic Preservation Grant funding assisted with its restoration. The Observatory will continue its use for university research and higher education but also for community educational programs to Pittsburgh’s children and adults. The Observatory restoration is part of the ongoing renewal of the Pittsburgh’s Riverview Park.