Growing up in the South, we had plenty of churches, but they tended to be Baptist, Methodist, and A.M.E. They worshipped in unremarkable generic brick buildings, scaled-down budget classics, old wooden country churches, and occasionally unfortunate modern takes that would make even the most pious consider a life of sin.
There were a handful of Catholics in every decent-sized town, but they weren’t the wine-swilling, cigar-chomping, fish-frying variety that exist in the North. One of my earliest new-to-Pittsburgh memories was going to a church carnival in my neighborhood where the fund-raising priest hosted a cash-on-the-table spinning wheel gambling game where the prizes were all bottom shelf liquor. That just doesn’t go on in Appalachian Virginia.
Around Pittsburgh, there are dozens of amazing Eastern Orthodox churches with an architecture that still strikes me as otherworldly. Byzantine crosses and elaborate stained glass. Gold-leafed tableaus and, above all (literally), glorious (usually) gold-painted onion domes that routinely mark the skylines of otherwise humble brick factory towns and glow on gray and rainy days.
Here’s a first post wherein we honor the amazing church architecture in Pittsburgh. The small neighborhood of “The Bottoms” in McKees Rocks boasts at least three different Eastern Orthodox churches, each with their own interesting features. Let’s start with St. Nicholas.