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Avery Training School

Established - 1908
Closed - before 1917
1st site - 709 Avery Avenue (North Side)
2nd site -
Also Known As:
Avery College Training School
Allegheny Institute and Mission Church
Allegheny College
Charles A. Avery
Sponsoring Agency:
Began as a home for colored children under age 14. Offered industrial and other instruction.

Charles A. Avery came to Pittsburgh in 1812. His interest in the cotton industry took him on buying trips to the South, and he was drawn to the plight of the Negro slaves. Joining the abolitionist forces, he aided the escape of slaves from the South to Canada in the underground railroad.

Avery College, built with funds from Mr. Charles A. Avery's fortune, was a three-story structure heavily influenced by the Greek Revival architecture being used in many eastern cities at that time. The basement, accessible by hidden trap doors, was most probably a "station" (hiding place) in the secret Underground Railroad. A tunnel from the church's basement led to a former canal nearby, permitting fugitive slaves to be dropped by boat from the Allegheny River. A rowboat was used to secretly move them up the canal at night to the tunnel entrance. The first and second floors were used for education, and the third floor for religious purposes. The congregation that met on the third floor called their church the Allegheny Mission Church.

When Avery died, his fortune was estimated at $800,000. Workmen demolished the red brick building of Avery College in Old Allegheny's Dutchtown to make way for the much disputed highway through the East Street Valley.

Location of Records:
Directory of Institutions in Pennsylvania, 1916 **(r361 P3993)**
Directory of the Philanthropic Agencies of the City of Pittsburgh, 1908, 1913 **(r361 K27)**