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The Point: The Block House

Engraving_of_the_Block_House.


  • All that Pittsburgh has left of the once great Fort Pitt which protected the Ohio Valley for the British crown is the old Blockhouse.
    This is a five-sided two-story strong point constructed outside the palisaded walls of Fort Pitt on the side toward the Point by Col. Henry Bouquet in 1764.
    Because the Blockhouse stood by itself it escaped the wreckers' hammers when the fort was dismantled, and was used for years as a dwelling house. (5)

  • By the early 1900s, the area around the Point had degenerated to slum conditions. In an effort to turn the run-down property into a commercial district, the Pennsylvania Railroad had laid down tracks, and an enterprising businessman, Henry Clay Frick, purchased the entire Point property, except the Blockhouse, from Mrs. Schenley for $2 million in 1902.
    Frick's development was thwarted by the small but seemingly invincible Blockhouse. Frick offered the DAR [Daughters of the American Revolution] $25,000 to move the little fortress to Schenley Park. The DAR declared the Blockhouse would not budge. Thus began a long and fierce court battle, which, after much expense, was resolved in the state Supreme Court in favor of the Blockhouse. (6)

  • On the little plot of ground cradling the old Block House, and hallowed by the memories of Fort Pitt and, before that, Fort Duquesne, and around which much of the Indian history of the United States is woven, 50 stoical Indians yesterday morning clasped hands with white men and women, descendants of the men who 150 years ago shed the blood of the Indians' forefathers.
    It was an impressive picture when the half hundred solemn visaged Iroquois from the "Hiawatha" show, near Aspinwall, stalked into the grounds of the old weather-beaten relic of frontier days and stood in sight of the three mighty rivers for whose possession their forefathers, the English and the French struggled a century and a half ago.
    The spectacle was arranged by three patriotic societies, Colonial Dames, Daughters of the American Revolution and Historical Society of Western Pennsylvania. As the Indians filed into the little structure they were greeted by handshakes.
    On the backs of several of the squaws were bright-eyed papooses and these were not forgotten, either. They and several who were able to paddle their own canoes lined up and each one was given a bag of candy by the committee.
    The red men journeyed to the Point from their camp at Squaw run in street cars and were received by Mrs. Samuel A. Ammon, president of Allegheny Chapter, Daughters of the American Revolution at 10 o'clock. When the shower fell Mrs. Ammon took the squaws and papooses in the caretaker's house. (7)

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