Recently, the University of Pittsburgh’s most recognizable building received a much needed cleaning of its exterior bricks. The 42-story building known as the Cathedral of Learning is a historical Pittsburgh landmark, and in order to keep it that way, the Pittsburgh History & Landmarks Foundation collaborated with the university to clean the limstone bricks in the building which were still soot-covered from the steel factories that closed down decades ago.

          The project cost $4.8 million to undergo and resulted in an impressive new look for the building. However, the university requested that a few of the bricks near the entrance be left untouched. They wanted to offer those who passed through the doors of the Cathedral of Learning of the city’s industrial history. A historical plaque was also supposed to be installed to explain why the bricks were left in their grimy condition. However, one of the brick cleaners was unaware of this and took to cleaning the bricks on his own. Despite this set back, the project was still successful and the building itself is a reminder of the city’s history.

          The Cathedral of Learning is the tallest education building in the United States and the second in the world aside from Moscow State University’s tower in Russia. It was designed by Charles Zeller Klauder, an architect from Philadelphia. He originially designed it to be a 52 story building, but modifications brought it down to 42 stories. Construction on it began in 1926 headed by Pitt’s chancelor at the time, John Gabbert Bowman. Construction was completed and the building dedicated in 1937 with the help of several contributors of all kinds. It now sits on 14-acres known as Frick Acres, land donated by brothers Andrew and Richard Mellon. Originally, the land was the site of the mansion of U.S. Congressman and Atlantic & Ohio Telegraph Co. president James K. Moorhead. Today it contains a three-story “Commons Room,” Nationality Classrooms, administrative offices, libraries, a computer center, a restaurant, and liberal arts offices and classrooms.

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