Rededication Ceremony Marks New Location of Pittsburgh’s Historic Flag Monument

JUN 13, 2016 

Public Invited to Flag Day Event - Rededication Ceremony Marks New Location of Pittsburgh’s Historic Flag Monument

Vietnam Veterans to Present Colors, Taps on 100th Anniversary of Flag Day hosted by Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy

WHEN: Flag Day, Tuesday, June 14, 10 a.m.

WHEN: Flagstaff Hill, Oakland. The Flag Monument is located directly across from Phipps Conservatory

A Flag Day rededication ceremony hosted by the Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy will be held to mark the new location of Pittsburgh’s historic Flag Monument on Flagstaff Hill. This is the 100th Anniversary of Flag Day.

The ceremony will include presentation of the colors, armed forces representatives, raising of the flag, and taps, presented by local Vietnam veterans and will be attended by Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy President Meg Cheever, and local officials. After being raised, in accordance with state and federal directives the flag will be lowered to half-mast in remembrance of those lost in Orlando, FL this past weekend.

Pittsburgh’s Flag Monument was originally dedicated on the American Flag’s 150th anniversary, June 14, 1927.  A campaign led by The Pittsburgh Chronicle Telegraph, in cooperation with the American Flag Day Association, raised funds to build the monument, with more than 188,163 school children participating by giving one penny each for construction.

Designed by Pittsburgh architect Harvey A. Schwab, the monument was moved in 1967 from its location at the entrance to the Phipps Conservatory to a setting adjacent to the Westinghouse Memorial on Circuit Drive.  The site did not give the monument prominence, and the current restoration of the Westinghouse Memorial – a joint project of the City of Pittsburgh and the Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy – provided the impetus to find a more fitting location.

The new Flagstaff Hill location, situated between a historic stone wall and a new flag pole, was selected in consultation with City of Pittsburgh officials and the Art Commission. Installation was completed by the Pittsburgh Department of Public Works Construction Division, in conjunction with the Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy.

Flag Day itself has a Pittsburgh connection, with William T. Kerr working for much of his adult life to establish a national holiday that honors our country’s flag. See below for details on the background of Mr. Kerr and Flag Day. 



About Pittsburgher William T. Kerr, “Father of Flag Day”

William T. Kerr was born in Pittsburgh on September 15, 1868.  A noted speaker, Mr. Kerr spent most of his life working to establish a national holiday to honor the American flag. He created the American Flag Day Association of Western Pennsylvania in 1888, and was a leader in the creation of the National American Flag Day Association in 1898, serving as its president for more than 50 years. 

During that tenure, Mr. Kerr wrote hundreds of articles, spoke on radio and wrote to presidents urging recognition of June 14th as a national holiday. Flag Day was established by presidential proclamation in 1916 by Woodrow Wilson, and was finally given national holiday status through the efforts of Pittsburgh’s own William T. Kerr.  In 1949, Mr. Kerr, in his 80s and in failing health, received a personal phone call from President Harry S. Truman inviting him to the White House to attend and participate in the signing of Public Law 203 of the 81st Congress.  This historic event occurred on August 3, 1949 and read:

"Resolved by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, that the 14th day of June of each year is hereby designated as "Flag Day" and the President of the United States is authorized and requested to issue annually a proclamation calling upon the officials of the government to display the flag of the United States on all government buildings on such day, and urging the people to observe the day as the anniversary of the adoption on June 14, 1777, by the Continental Congress of the Stars and Stripes as the official flag of the United States of America."

About the Pittsburgh Flag Monument

Pittsburgh’s Flag Monument was created to mark the occasion of the 150th anniversary of the United States flag through a promotion by the Pittsburgh Chronicle Telegraph, in cooperation with the American Flag Day Association. The popular effort raised 188,163 pennies from Allegheny County school children over a four-week period.  The monument was installed directly in front of the Phipps Conservatory entrance and dedicated on Flag Day, June 14, 1927.

Consisting of a substantial granite base assembled from three rough-cut stones, and bearing an inscribed bronze tablet, the monument stands 4’5” x 2’4”.  It was designed by Harvey A. Schwab (1887-1956), a Pittsburgh architect and assistant professor of architecture at Carnegie Institute of Technology who studied at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts and the American Academy in Rome. Notable works by his firm, Schwab, Palmgreen & Merrick, include the Mercantile Building (1930,) and Arsenal Junior High School (1932, also with Marion M. Steen).

Moved from its original location in the1980’s and placed near the Westinghouse Memorial in Schenley Park, the monument has now been relocated to a spot near its original location on Flagstaff Hill. Thanks to the efforts of the City of Pittsburgh’s Public Works Department and the Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy, the monument now has a location worthy of its original intention – to honor our country’s flag and all that it symbolizes.

About the Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy:

The Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy was founded in December 1996 by a group of citizens concerned with the deteriorating conditions of Pittsburgh's historic city parks. A nonprofit organization, the Parks Conservancy works closely with the City of Pittsburgh under an official public-private partnership agreement to restore and improve the city’s park system to its full potential. Originally including Highland, Schenley, Frick, and Riverview Parks, the scope of the Park Conservancy’s work now includes a focus on community parks including Allegheny Commons, Arsenal Park, Cliffside Park, McKinley Park, and Mellon Park. To date, the Parks Conservancy has raised $92 million toward park improvements.