The past, future of the historic Oakland Pittsburgh Playhouse

Magee Women’s Research Institute and Foundation enter payment agreement

Written By Amanda Andrews, Co-News Editor

The old Pittsburgh Playhouse location in Oakland has potentially found a tentative buyer. Magee Womens Research Institute and Foundation has entered into a payment agreement with the university to purchase the space as of Nov. 1.

Lou Cosaro, a managing director of University Marketing and Public Relations, spoke very positively of the deal in the official press release, “Statement on sale of old Pittsburgh Playhouse site”, released on Nov. 4.

“Point Park University entered into a Purchase Agreement with the Magee-Womens Institute and Foundation for the Oakland Pittsburgh Playhouse site,” Cosaro said. “Point Park is very pleased to be able to work with the Magee-Womens Institute and Foundation and local foundations to help the Magee-Womens Institute and Foundation advance its critically important mission. The terms of the Purchase Agreement are confidential.”

While Magee Womens Research Institute and Foundation is a partner with UPMC Magee Womens Hospital, the hospital is not associated with the deal in any capacity, according to University President Paul Hennigan.

“We have signed a purchase agreement,” Hennigan said. “They are in a 90-day due diligence period right now which is part of the purchase agreement, so the transaction has not closed.”

Essentially, Magee Womens Research and Foundation’s agreement with the university is not legally binding and they can withdraw from it at any time.

“If they get through their 90-day due diligence period, then they have the right to say, ‘we want to close on the transaction.’ And the terms of the purchase agreement are confidential, which is pretty typical,” Hennigan said.

Magee Womens Research Institute and Foundation is situated right next to the 25,000 square foot property currently undergoing demolition.

The old Playhouse, located at 222 Craft Avenue, was made up of three different buildings, and Point Park University purchased it in 1968. The decision to build the new Pittsburgh Playhouse, now located on Forbes Avenue, was made seven years ago.

The old Playhouse had a rich history. It started out in 1934 as the Pittsburgh Civic Playhouse, and the space was not exclusive to just Point Park University for some time. In fact, the old Tree of Life synagogue was located there until moving to their Squirrel Hill location in 1952. That building then became the Rockwell Theatre.

During the demolition process of the old Playhouse, a time capsule which was hidden in the cornerstone of a building was discovered. The capsule dated back to 1906 and contained documents, letters, newspapers and other belonging of the Tree of Life congregation, unveiling virtually a treasure trove of local Jewish history. The Oakland location was their second synagogue, their first synagogue having been located in downtown Pittsburgh on Fourth and Ross Streets.

Hennigan was present at the official retrieval of the capsule on Nov. 4.

“We were very pleased as I say to be able to work with them. We’ve been doing that now for a couple of years as we anticipated the deconstruction of this building,” Hennigan said. “And for them, I just think it’s a truly special day to share in their joy and their history.”

The new Playhouse has been open since the Fall 2018 semester.

Magee Womens Institute and Foundation officials did not respond to requests to comment.