I received E-Mail that said:

In the middle of downtown Pittsburgh there is a castle nex to Mellon Bank tower It is was turned into a jail but is now abandoned. Could you find any information on this or pictures?

Later, I received E-Mail that said:

The castle in Pittsburgh, was all ways the county jail. Underneath the building there are tunnels that lead to the City-County Building, Grant Building, and County Court House and other locations that I was not able to get to. Originally the tunnels were used to transport prisoners to the court houses and to attorneys safely with less means of escape. The tunnels are labyrinth like and have many storerooms and areas that looked like they were once guard posts. I used to work in the Grant Building at an attorneys office and on cold days I would take the tunnels to avoid the cold weather. I would take them from Grant Building to the City-County Building to file documents and from the Grant Building to the County Court House in the morning and afternoons. The tunnel that leads to the Jail is locked off with a gate but you can see down it and their are a few other corridors that you can see.

From what I gathered, H. H. Richardson designed the building. I don't know when the building was erected, I never stopped to look at the cornerstone, even though I know I've seen it. I found the pictures via Google, I'm sure their are others if you look for them.

Later, I received E-Mail that said:

the picture of the unknown castle in pittsburgh is of the bridge that connects the courthouse with the old jail that has now been converted to offices since the new jail was built. The bridge was the final walk between being free and being in jail

Later. I received E-Mail that said:

The "unknown castle" in Pittsburgh is actually part of Fort Duquesne, a fort used for a failed expedition and during the French and Indian War.

Later, I received E-Mail that said:

I was poking around your site and since I am originally from Pittsburgh wondered what "unknown" castle could be there. Imagine my surprise when it was the Allegheny County Jail - it is just massive and Romanesque, not really castle-like. Here is information straight from the horse's mouth - so to speak. http://www.county.allegheny.pa.us/comm/jail.asp

In my opinion, this is not what I think of as a castle. I will leave it on the webpage for a while, but will remove it later.

Later, I received E-Mail that said:

I'm very familar with this american castle and I definitely think it warrants a listing and place on your website. This is the Allegheny County Courthouse and Jail (Family-Juvenile Courts) Complex.

In the late 1990's the AIA - the American Institute of Architects, voted this H.H.Richardson bldg. as the most significant example of architecture in america in the 19th century. Incidentally, they also noted Fallingwater, the Frank Lloyd Wright designed home over the Bear Run waterfall located in the Laurel Highlands, southeast of Pittsburgh as the most significant example of architecture in america in the 20th century. Who knows what the 21rst century will bring us in this regard.

This is arguably the finest of all Richardson's architectural commissions and probably one of the most successful from a functionallity standpoint. It has been extremely successful as a fortress during it's time as a jail. There were virtually no escapes from it's walls. One notable exception was the tale that was detailed in the movie "Mrs. Soffel, starring Mel Gibson.

The amazing renovation of the jail portion of the "County Courthouse and Jail" complex into a state of the art familly and juvenile court facility helped preserve one of america's greatest architectural treasures and allowed the complex to go forward and continue to provide value and meaning in the Pittsburgh community.

The "castle" is truly one of Pittsburgh's greatest unsung treasures. It's grand but also simple Romanesque design has proven to be timeless through the years and has provided a solid anchor to the city of Pittsburgh. It's location on the premier business and public blvd of Pittsburgh only adds to it's catchet as a great "American Castle".

On 5-6-13, I received e-mail taht said:

My grandfather was the warden for this county jail and was the last warden when they closed down. My grandparents and 2 of the youngest children lived in the housing unit while my grandfather worked as a Warden. I remember going there for a few years until they moved out to my great grandmother's home. I will try to get some more info as best as I can. I am not sure when I will be returning back to Pittsburgh.

I found this link for you.


Back to "Castles of the United States"

Thanks to Michelle Rohac for sending the photo.