Our Lady Help of Christians

Our Lady Help of Christians

Dust. Humidity. The stale, almost sweet smelling odor of a deep-seated rot. Together they swirl in the air below a massive, domed ceiling. Fine dust partials catch the sunlight as it enters through windowless holes high above, eventually settling upon rows of pews. All around the once-beautiful chamber hall are signs of scrapping, sprawling murals of graffiti, and indiscriminate vandalism. Once a scared hall, now a massive chamber celebrating man's failures.

When Our lady Help of Christians held its first service in 1898, the neighborhood of Larimer was predominately Italian-American, and was often referred to as the 'Little Italy' of Pittsburgh. By the tail end of the 1970s though, economic hardships began to drive out many of the long-time families and residents, sending the area into a deep decline. Today the area is considered one of, if not the most destitute in all of Pittsburgh, and the old church reflects this plight plainly. In these walls we witness the rise and fall of Larmier, revealed as well as any history book could. Just to look upon the ruins before you is to know that once there was pride here. Purpose. Now it seems naught remains except reminders of some past time and place.

In the fall of 2019 Our Lady Help of Christians were razed. From celebrated community fixture to a historical footnote at 121 years old.

Looking upward toward the windowless domed ceiling.

A parade passes the steps of the church in 1940.
In this undated historical cityscape the dome of Our lady Help of Christians is just barely visible the background, on the far left of the horizon line.