Onion Dome Fever: St. George’s Syrian Orthodox Church

former St. George’s Syrian Orthodox Church, Pittsburgh, PA

(Former) St. George’s Syrian Orthodox Church, Hill District

Like the ripe tomato hanging on the vine, seductively whispering “take me, I’m yours.” This fantastic little old-world church, complete with big stained glass windows and its Byzantine onion dome. Sitting empty, literally right in the center of Pittsburgh, up on The Hill. An inevitable fantastic view across the Allegheny River from the rear and an easy walk downtown, mere blocks (O.K., maybe a half mile) away.

As this blogger kickstanded his hog and pulled out the camera-phone, a fellow at the bus stop across the street asked if I was going to buy the place. I told him I wasn’t, but wished I could. What would you do with it? he said. Me: I’d live there.

And wow: wouldn’t that be a peach? I haven’t been inside and can only imagine what it would take to resuscitate a heap like this, but you know it would be incredible. What a terrific little place! We’d be living the dream in Orbit World Headquarters! Ha! Instead, it’s sitting idle and, if not shuffling off this mortal coil, it’s at least finished dessert and asked for the check. Sigh. Maybe we need to make a few calls…

former St. George’s Syrian Orthodox Church, Pittsburgh, PA

It comes in color, too!

A side note: One Christmas, we attended midnight mass at the new(er) St. George’s in Oakland with the Syrian family I was tutoring in E.S.L. at the time. [St. George’s moved from The Hill District to Oakland in 1954.] I can tell you that experience was intense. This ceremony actually started at midnight (not one of those middle-of-the-mall midnight masses), went on for two-and-a-half hours, and was all in Latin. Much chanting, swinging the burning herbs, robes, beads; the whole bit. I’m pretty sure those spirits are all still at it in the old place and I’d love to fall asleep to their ghostly modal Acapulco hymns.

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