I was first drawn to Troy Hill by the Penn Brewery, which I visited with friends after it reopened in 2010. The brewery lies in a favorable location for an introduction to Troy Hill, its base. The Penn Brewery occupies the site of the former Eberhardt and Ober Brewery, founded in 1883. The original E&O building is simple, beautiful and well maintained. The Penn Brewery was a pioneer in what has become a recent explosion of microbreweries across the United States, and their well crafted beer links recent history to the past.
Almost directly across State Route 28 from the Penn Brewery is the H.J. Heinz Company, which includes the Sarah Heinz House, a community center that provides programs for local children. The flats of the Allegheny River provided an excellent location for the Heinz family to develop and operate one of America’s most successful food service industries, as well as one of America’s most prominent charitable organziations. The Heinz factory smokestaks, a Pittsburgh landmark, are visible from many vantage points in Troy Hill.
While the star attractions are located at the bottom of the neighborhood, Troy Hill has much to offer those willing to trek up the hill. It is one of the more off the beaten path Pittsburgh neighborhoods, but that is what proivdes part of its charm. It is surrounded by steep inclines that are lush with vegetation. Yet unlike many hilltop neighborhoods with sweeeping views of a city, Troy Hill is not exclusive, rather it is solidly working class.
On top of the hill is St. Anthony’s Chapel. Walking by, one wouldn’t know this Chapel has the largest collection of religious relics outside of the Vatican. Some of the over 5,000 relics include the tooth of its patron saint, St. Anthony of Padua. The altar contains a piece of wood said to be part of the table used at the Last Supper. The Chapel’s collection also contains the skulls of lesser known Saints Theodore and Macarius.
The parish was founded by Father Suitbert Mollinger. Father Mollinger was born in Belgium to a wealthy family. He later used his family fortune to purchase most of the relics kept at St. Anthony’s. Father Mollinger considered the relics endangered as the Kulturkampf and other anti-Catholic initiatives raged in Europe during the late 1800’s.
Many of the street names in Troy Hill are a mouthful, and German names are usually the culprit. Some of the best include Goettmann Street, Liedertafel Way and Straub Street. Keeping with the beer theme that introduced me to Troy Hill, I’ll close with the street name that is my favorite, Lager Street. I wonder how many times this street sign has been stolen?