Fort Pitt Block House, Pittsburgh
The Fort Pitt Blockhouse stands at the site of old Fort Pitt near the confluence of the Monongahela and Allegheny Rivers, forming the Ohio River. This so-called block house, was originally constructed in 1764 and is known as the oldest building in all of Western Pennsylvania. The blockhouse was later used as a residential house, but has been purchased and operated by the Daughters of the American Revolution for many years.
Fort Pitt was built in 1758 during the French and Indian War, next to the site of Fort Duquesne, which the French built in 1754. In the 1760s local Indians tried to seize the fort from he British, but failed. By 1772 the British army no longer had a need for the fort, and it was sold to local residents. Just prior to the American Revolution, this fort became the site of a border dispute between Virginia and Pennsylvania, as both claimed the area of today's southwest Pennsylvania. During the Revolutionary War, the for was harassed by Indians and British sympathizers, but remained the Western District headquarters of the Continental Army. At the end of the Revolution, the US Army maintained only two forts: West Point in New York and Fort Pitt. In the 1960s the area of Fort Pitt was excavated and restored, with one of the results being the recreation of one of the fort's bastions that now serves as the The Fort Pitt Museum.
A tidy black iron fence encircles the historic Block House erected by British Colonial forces in 1764. My husband and I along with my mother had taken time from a family visit to explore this 18th century time capsule and learn something about this area's history.
The purpose of the building was to 'extend the field of musket fire beyond the walls of Fort Pitt and create a protective field of crossfire between the bastions of the fort'. The Block House is the oldest building in Pittsburgh and the only part of Fort Pitt that remains.
The structure sits in beautiful Point State Park, near the Fort Pitt Museum and it's been open to the public for over 100 years. Upon excavation nearly 2,000 small pieces of history were found which show it was once 'a fort, a trading post, a home and small store'. Some of these artifacts are displayed in the Block House.
pic #2 interior Block House-artifacts and bits of history
pic #3 Indian wampum belt
The Block House is sited as coming from the earliest part of an era known as the Trans-Allegheny Migration, whereby settlers from Virginia, Pennsylvania and Maryland progressed over the Allegheny Mountains to parts of the already established east, west and Ohio.
Tensions over Ohio Valley's fertile land resulted in a squabble known as the Seven Years War or the French and Indian War of 1754-1763.
Hours are Weds.-Sun. 10am-5pm year round, check inclement weather. There is no charge for admission.
Owned and administered by the Fort Pitt society of the Pittsburgh Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution since 1894. A gift of Mary O'Hara Schenley. Open Wednesday through Sunday 10-5pm weather permitting at Point State Park, Pittsburgh
The Fort Pitt Block House or Bouquet's Redoubt was constructed in 1764 by the British Colonial forces near the end of the Pontiac War. The building's purpose was to extend the field of muskets fire beyond the walls of the Fort Pitt and also create a protective field of crossfire between the Bastions of the fort. Fort Pitt was besieged by Native Americans in July of 1763 and woul have probably capitulated had not an army commanded by Colonel Henry Bouquet defeated the mixed tribes of Delawares, Mingoes, Shawnees, and Seneca nearby at the Battle of Bushy Run.
Bouquet planned five (5) such buildings ringing around Fort Pitt, although the locations of only (3) are known. This historic little fort has been kept open free to the public year round as a public service for over 100 yrs, one of Pittsburgh's longest running traditions.
An archeological dig inside the structure revealed more than 2,000 small items dating to the days when the Block House had been a fort, a trading post, a home and even a small store.
Nestled in a grove of hundred year old Gingko trees in Point State Park, the five-sided redoubt is not only the oldest building in the city of Pittsburgh and the only structure remains of the original fort Pitt, but it is also the earliest remnant of the era known as "Trans-Allegheny Migration".