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‘Sacred Spaces Tour’ Explores Wilkinsburg’s Historic Buildings Of Worship

  OCT 11, 2018

The historic architecture of 25 churches, mosques and other buildings will be highlighted this weekend at the Wilkinsburg Sacred Spaces Tour.

Dallas-based visual artist Jennifer Chenoweth curated the interactive art project, and said one of the tour stops includes a vacant Presbyterian church along South Avenue.

“It’s hand-laid stone, it’s called ashlar construction, where you lay the stone in kind of a mosaic, it’s got huge Gothic arches in the inside and gigantic sections of stained glass it’s kind of monumental and old world,” said Chenoweth.

The tour also will also serve as a history lesson, where participants learn notable facts about specific buildings, like the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community Mosque, also on South Avenue.

“In the ’80s, for a while, it was a punk rock venue, all kinds of people played there, Nirvana played there,” Chenoweth said. “So, it’s just a really beautiful space.”

Chenoweth curated the tour as part of a temporary public art project with the Office of Public Art, and Neighborhood Allies. She said she immediately felt connected to the fabric and culture of the Wilkinsburg community.

A map of the sites open to the Wilkinsburg Sacred Spaces Tour on Saturday, Oct. 13, 2018.
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“There are beautiful buildings and spaces and Gothic cathedrals and hand carved stone and just amazing things,” Chenoweth said. “Some of the things that I think are most beautiful is when a newer black evangelical church is singing a gospel choir out the windows of this tradition German heritage church,” said Chenoweth.

Because of the high concentration of churches, Wilkinsburg has sometimes been called the “Holy City.” Chenoweth said she wanted to create a project that would pay homage to the people of the borough.

“My commissioning organization asked me to come and get to know the people and the place of Wilkinsburg before planning the project so they wanted me to actually respond to the people and the place, rather than just drop some art off,” said Chenoweth.

During the tour, volunteer docents will be on hand to answer questions and assist with navigating the tour, which takes place Saturday Oct.13, from 11 a.m. – 6 p.m. Activities are free and open to the public. Registration can be found here.

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