The Catholic tradition is filled with the idea of miracles, death and rebirth. Something thought lost can rise again. Such was the story of the former St. Casimir Catholic church on the south side of Pittsburgh. It now is reborn as the 22nd Street Condos.
The visually striking church was designed in the Baroque Revival style and features beautiful stained-glass windows, large pillars, ornate moldings and stunning domes. For 90 years, the church was home to a strong faith community.
But as time went on and populations shifted away from the south side, the diocese merged St. Casimir with six other parishes in the area to form Prince of Peace. The parish moved out of its old church in 1992. The church was de-sanctified and the building stood vacant for almost 15 years. There was an empty brick wall where the altar once was, but much of the ornate molding and stained glass remained intact. The building waited patiently for its next act.
The old church building was purchased in 2007 by individuals who attempted some renovations. It then was used ostensibly as a single-family home for about 10 years. In 2017, it was bought by developer Ivor Hill, along with his partners Jim Hankle and Viktor Fischer, under the name HHF LLC. Hill was impressed by the building’s location and the strength of the structure and saw great potential in it.
Once the property was secured, the developers brought on Pittsburgh-based Indovina Associates Architects to begin the process of remaking the old church into high-end condos. Hill was living in a condo that had been a previous project of Indovina Associates Architects and knew what the firm could bring to the table.
“The project began with looking at the existing church building,” recalls Rob Indovina, principal with Indovina Associates Architects. “We were very excited about the possibilities of the space. Someone had done some initial renovations and was using the space as a residence. Fortunately, although there was some damage to the original detail, the bulk of the moldings and overall volume of the space were largely intact. The damaged existing moldings were cast to reproduce and replace the damaged areas.”
With a strong structure, reasonably unscathed architectural elements and lots of positive elements in play, the church provided an excellent canvas to create something unique and special for the developer and, ultimately, for homeowners.
“The focus was to create functional, marketable condominium units while incorporating the iconic décor elements of the church,” Indovina says. “We inserted an additional floor in the nave, which brought the upper units up to an intimate relationship with the moldings and massing of the main barrel vault of the nave.”
The first floor incorporates five units, and there are seven units on the second floor. Ranging in size from 1,200 to 2,300 square feet, each two-bedroom, two-bathroom unit is 2-stories tall. Two spaces include the former bell towers, and all but one of the second-floor units has a private deck.
“We used the altar apse areas to create one-of-a-kind units,” Indovina says. In church architecture, the apse of a church is the area where the altar is placed or where the clergy are seated. “We had to add new stairs, stair towers and an elevator to reach the new upper floor,” he adds.
PHOTOS: MIKE LEONARDI, CANDIDLY YOURS PHOTOGRAPHY unless otherwise noted