Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Allegheny Building's Owner Plans Slew of Improvements One of the Priorities Will Be Restoring Grandeur to 1st Floor

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Allegheny Building's Owner Plans Slew of Improvements One of the Priorities Will Be Restoring Grandeur to 1st Floor

Article excerpt

Conceived as an annex to the stately Frick Building next door, the Allegheny Building featured some grandeur of its own - from marble ceilings and cornices to perhaps even a great hall on the first floor.

King Penguin Opportunity Fund, the new owner of the 19-story structure at 429 Forbes Ave., Downtown, wants to restore some of that splendor.

"It's clearly an opportunity to bring the building back and make it a more desirable address," said architect Rob Pfaffmann, who is working for King Penguin.

The owner closed on the purchase of the building last week. It paid $7 million for the structure, which originally was listed for sale at $7.8 million. The building, assessed at $2.8 million, was built by Pittsburgh industrialist Henry Clay Frick, who also commissioned the Frick Building.

While King Penguin is planning a slew of improvements, including air conditioning and heating and mechanical updates, one of the priorities will be restoring - as much as possible - its first- floor grandeur.

The space, which now houses the Apollo Cafe and a Crazy Mocha coffee shop, originally had 18-foot-high marble ceilings and cornices, Mr. Pfaffmann said. Based on a 1906 Pittsburgh Post photograph, there also was a large meeting and banquet space the paper referred to as a "pretty hall."

Mr. Pfaffmann said it's still possible to see part of the marble ceiling in the Apollo Cafe. He is hoping the rest remains above the dropped ceilings that have been added over the years.

The great hall, he said, may have been located behind the main bank of elevators in what is now the lobby. The intent is to restore as much of the first floor as possible, within the context of the existing coffee shop and cafe.

"The idea is to bring back the spirit of the original Frick annex," Mr. Pfaffmann said.

Built in the early 20th century, the Allegheny Building was commissioned as an annex to the Frick Building at the corner of Forbes and Grant, and housed the offices of firms like the Frick Coal Co. …

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