Chapel Shelter and Heritage Day

This Saturday marks the Grand Opening of the Chapel Shelter at Riverview Park in conjunction with the Heritage Day Parade and festivities. 

Chapel Shelter in July 2006The Chapel Shelter was built in the 1800s at Perrysville and Riverview Avenues as the Watson Presbyterian Church. After a new church was built, the shelter was moved from its original location to the interior of Riverview park, where it became a popular picnic destination for North Side residents and visitors. Over time, the building’s historic design character was lost and its condition deteriorated. The building’s original steeple and dormers were removed in the 1950s, and a concrete porch replaced the original wooden one. The Chapel Shelter suffered neglect, graffiti and major termite damage, and the landscape and woodlands became overgrown with non-native invasive plant species. The shelter was finally closed to the public in 2005.  

After a six-year fundraising effort, the City of Pittsburgh and the Parks Conservancy in 2006 began restoring the Chapel Shelter’s dormers and original steeple, and replicating the original columns and railings. Termite-resistant materials were used in construction, and it now has updated restrooms and a kitchen. The power lines were buried, so they no longer loom above.            

Chapel Shelter todayOne of the coolest parts about the project is that it also undertook a large-scale ecological revitalization of the area surrounding the Shelter, which included many hours of volunteer participation. New trails now connect the Shelter to the recently restored Snyder’s Point natural area and its re-established views of the Ohio River.  In 2005, the City of Pittsburgh replaced the park’s dilapidated tennis courts with a lawn, and large numbers of invasive Siberian elms and shrubs were replaced with native alternatives.   

Heritage Day begins at 11:00 a.m. with a parade that runs through the park, and the Grand Opening at noon will feature a dove release along with comments from Mayor Ravenstahl.  After the ceremony, stick around for entertainment, food, pony rides, a petting zoo, a pie-eating contest, and lots of other activities.  For more information on Heritage Day, visit   

One thought on “Chapel Shelter and Heritage Day

  1. This chapel/shelter looks lovely. Is it available to reserve to hold a wedding ceremony and reception?? My daughter lives near Observatory Hill and is planning on getting married sometime next summer. Is this facility an option? Where do I get more information?? Thank you for any replies.

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