While the University of Pittsburgh is well-known for its gigantic Cathedral of Learning, there’s also another beautiful architectural masterpiece right next door:
Heinz Chapel is a gorgeous little church that shares a lawn with the Cathedral of Learning. They were built around the same time, back in the 1930s.
You can ask for a free tour at the front desk. Presently, there are no set tours or tour-times, although this may change in the future, so always check their website before planning a visit. Our tour guide was Wendy, and she was so knowledgeable that it really enhanced our visit to the chapel.
There are four sets of these long stained glass windows. Each set represents a different character trait: tolerance, courage, temperance, and truth. There are an equal number of men and women on the windows (men on the left column & women on the right), and they hail from both the sacred and the secular realms.
You could easily lose a few hours taking in all of the detail on the windows and trying to identify each person who is featured. They even offer binoculars so you can see the detail at the top of the windows!
The Heinz Chapel is dedicated to Henry John Heinz and his mother, for whom he was initially inspired to build it. After his death in 1919, his children took over the responsibility of having the chapel built.
In chatting with our tour guide, we speculated about where, today, one could find the woodworkers and stone carvers needed to build a chapel like this. There is so much intricate detail, which truly makes it a one-of-a-kind building.
As I am a Pitt alum, we could have had our wedding at Heinz Chapel. And while it was definitely a runner-up in the planning process, the ultimate reason we chose otherwise was this guy here:
All weddings at Heinz Chapel must use one of their in-house organists, playing, well, organ music. And while I love some creepy Dracula music as much as the next broad… at my wedding? We’re really more of Stevie Wonder people. (But I’m sure it’s absolutely lovely if you aren’t!)
If you’re looking for something fun – and free! – to do on a weekday afternoon, we recommend popping into Heinz Chapel for a tour. It’s open to the public Monday-Friday 8:30am until 5pm, and you can drop in any time to see the sights, take a moment to yourself, or even bring your study materials to have a peaceful place to focus!