Chatham Village is not just a collection of houses—it's a true community. From its founding in 1932, Chatham Village has always been a progressive, forward-looking community. Changing with the times, it has continually evolved in response to the needs of its members—initially becoming one of Pittsburgh's largest cooperatives and later adjusting its structure to bring better alignment with the needs of its members and with demands of the market. This ability to change is an essential component of the Village's continuing vitality.
A Heritage That Reaches Back More Than 300 Years
In 1681 King Charles II of England granted the Colony of Pennsylvania to William Penn. A little more than a hundred years later in 1794 Major Abraham Kirkpatrick bought much of what is now Mt. Washington and Duquesne Heights from William Penn's heirs, John Penn the Elder and John Penn the Younger. It is on a portion of this land that Chatham Village is sited. And its name comes from William Pitt, the first Earl of Chatham, who was England's prime minister as well as Pittsburgh's namesake.
2011 - Angelique Bamberg publishes Chatham Village: Pittsburgh’s Garden City, a book based on her master’s thesis, and published by the University of Pittsburgh Press.
2007 - Chatham Village is named one of the "Ten Great Neighborhoods" by the American Planning Association and celebrates its 75th anniversary with an alumni reunion, lecture, and tours.
2005 - The United States Secretary of the Interior names Chatham Village a National Historic Landmark.
2000 - Chatham Village Homes, Inc. pays off its 40-year mortgage on time and celebrates
with a party, bonfire and mortgage burning ceremony.
1998 - Chatham Village is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. A tornado causes severe damage to Mount Washington, including Chatham Village. The damage was quickly repaired and the Village was restored to match original conditions, including replanting of some damaged trees.
1996 - Chatham Village is included in an exhibition at the Heinz History Center in Pittsburgh.
1993 - The Heinz Architectural Center at Carnegie Museums of Pittsburgh includes Chatham Village in an exhibition.
1990 - Action Housing Inc. presents the award of excellence to Chatham Village Homes, Inc., for its pioneering role in cooperative housing. The Pittsburgh History and Landmarks Foundation awards historic landmark plaques to Chatham Village and Chatham Hall.
1988 - Chatham Village is the first neighborhood in the City of Pittsburgh to receive water meters capable of being read remotely, from outside the houses.
1982 - In a pilot project of Warner Cable Company, Chatham Village becomes the first community in the City of Pittsburgh to be served by underground cable television. The Village celebrates its 50th anniversary with an alumni reunion.
1961 - In her The Death and Life of Great American Cities, author Jane Jacobs refers to Chatham Village as “a famous model of Garden City planning” but decries the aims of large-scale master planning and advocates a grassroots approach for development of dense urban streets instead of parks.
1960 - The sale of Chatham Village is the first real estate transaction in the United States to take place pursuant to an amendment to Section 213 of the act permitting the Federal Housing Administration to insure mortgages on existing buildings.
1956 - The third phase of Chatham Village, a 19-unit one-bedroom apartment building with elevator service named Chatham Manor, is made available for rent. The American Institute of Architects awards its gold medal, its highest honor, to Clarence S. Stein for his distinguished career in planning.
1955 - The Buhl Foundation retains planner Frederick Bigger, architects Ingham, Boyd & Pratt, and landscape architects Griswold Winters Swain to begin work on yet another expansion of Chatham Village.
With the installation of an antenna designed by RCA Service Company, Chatham Village is the site of the first large-scale underground television reception system in the United States.
1939 - Scenes of Chatham Village and other planned communities appear in the film The City, shown at the New York World’s Fair.
1938 - The American Institute of Architects selects Chatham Village as one of 150 projects representing the finest examples of modern building construction in the past four years.
Photographs of Chatham Village are exhibited at the National Building Museum in Washington, D.C.
1936 - The second phase, 68 homes (the "New Village") opens for rent.
1935 - The Buhl Foundation retains planner Henry Wright, the architectural firm Ingham & Boyd, and landscape architect Theodore M. Kohankie to begin plans for an addition to Chatham Village. The Village receives two awards: a bronze medal from the American Institute of Architects’ Better Homes in America National Competition, Group Housing; and honorable mention for row housing from Architectural Forum.
1934 - The Chatham Village Club is established to provide educational, recreational, and social opportunities for the residents of Chatham Village.
1933 - The American Institute of Architects and the New York Architectural League select Chatham Village as one of fourteen housing projects in seven countries for a traveling exhibit to major American cities.
1932 - The first phase of 129 homes (the "Old Village") is offered for rent. Some 55,000 people visit the model units in the first month of showing.
Chatham Village is the first large-scale planned residential community in America to be built, retained, and managed as a long-term investment. It is the first residential neighborhood in the City of Pittsburgh to be heated entirely with natural gas.
1931 - The Buhl Foundation purchases the former Bigham property as the site for Chatham Village and retains noted urban planners Clarence S. Stein and Henry Wright to create the site plan, the firm of architects Ingham & Boyd to design the buildings, and landscape architect Ralph E. Griswold to plan the landscaping. It is to be the first planned community in the United States to include a dedicated greenbelt of undeveloped land.
1849 - Thomas J. Bigham and his wife, Maria Louisa Lewis Bigham, a granddaughter of Major Kirkpatrick, build a 12-room Greek revival house, the future Chatham Hall, on their property.
1794 - American Revolutionary War officer Major Abraham Kirkpatrick buys much of what is now Mt. Washington and Duquesne Heights from John Penn the Elder and John Penn the Younger, heirs of William Penn.
1758 - General Forbes takes possession of Fort Duquesne and renames it in honor of William Pitt. Pitt, a commoner appointed prime minister of England, is later named Earl of Chatham.
1754 - The French begin building a fort at the Point, calling it Fort Duquesne in honor of the Marquis de Duquesne, governor general of New France from 1752 to 1755.
1753 - George Washington, sent by the Governor of Virginia as an emissary to the French-held Fort LeBoeuf (now Waterford, Pa.), observes the Point, where the Monongahela and Allegheny Rivers join to form the Ohio, and deems it an excellent location for a fort.
1681 - King Charles II of England grants the Colony of Pennsylvania to William Penn.
William Pitt, the First Earl of Chatham
From Rental Housing to a Market Value Cooperative
1932 - The Buhl Foundation opens Chatham Village as rental housing. The community quickly sells out and establishes a waiting list for available units.
1960 - The Buhl Foundation sells Chatham Village to Chatham Village Homes, Inc., a member-owned, not-for-profit corporation, thus turning it into a par value cooperative rather than a rental community. Par value meant that the price of a membership was determined by the cooperative.
1985 - The members of Chatham Village Homes, Inc. vote to convert the corporation from a par value cooperative to a market value cooperative. This enabled members to invest in their homes and to realize the value of their investment if they sold their memberships.
An Architectural Treasure
It's no surprise that in 2005 the United States Department of the Interior designated Chatham Village a National Historic Landmark. It was another honor in a series that began shortly after the Village opened in 1932.
1990 - The Pittsburgh History and Landmarks Foundation awards historic landmark plaques to Chatham Village and Chatham Hall.
1993 - Chatham Village is determined to be eligible for listing on the National Register of Historic Places.
1998 - Chatham Village is listed as a historic district on the National Register of Historic Places.
2005 - The United States Secretary of the Interior names Chatham Village a National Historic Landmark.
Click here to view a video of historic moments in the Village. Chatham Village's "First Unit" (the Old Village) was completed in 1932. This film shows courtyards and streetscapes of this new garden community, including typical interior views. It also shows the "Second Unit" (the New Village) under construction in 1935, to be completed in 1936.