The story of a forgotten America.

Larimer School

The Larimer School, named for William Larimer, Jr., who opened the first Conestoga wagon business in the area, is a former school in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Larimer later moved west and founded Denver, Colorado, and Larimer City, Nebraska.

The Larimer School was designed by Ulysses J. Lincoln Peoples, 2 and was constructed in 1896 at a cost of $80,000. 5 Peoples, a native of Allegheny City, received his degree from the University of Illinois and apprenticed with D.H. Burnham’s firm during the run-up to the 1893 Columbian Exposition in Chicago.

The two-story school, designed in the Classicized Richardson Romanesque style, 1 featured an elaborate double-door entry with a rounded stone arch transom facing Larimer Avenue and a triple-arched entry along Winslow Avenue. 2 The interior boasted wide central hallways, terrazzo floors, and Tennessee marble wainscoting on the walls.

A complimentary addition, also designed by Peoples, was opened in January 1905 2 6 at a cost of $100,000. 5 It featured an elaborate connector with a 125-foot-high campanile with a school bell at the top, 6 and a terra-cotta surround entry with figures in the relief. A 12-foot by 16-foot, six-paneled stained glass window, crafted by the Rudy Brothers Glass Studio in East Liberty, depicting a scene of Romans wearing togas of scarlet, orchid, chartreuse, and blue, was installed on a second-floor balcony. 13 But it was found that the addition was not built to the original plans and specifications, and the school board refused to accept the building from the contractors until $10,000 in alterations were completed at the construction company’s expense. 

The school board approved a $121,500 contract to construct an auditorium and two gymnasiums on February 18, 1930, 8 and George M. Rowland was chosen as the architect for the addition on September 23. 10 The two-story addition, finished in the fall of 1931, 11 was designed in contrast with the earlier iterations of Larimer and featured a streamlined Art Deco style. 2 Black marble wainscoting and an aluminum acoustical tile ceiling with geometric arrangements were used in the 345 4 / 400-seat 2

C.L. Wooldridge, the building superintendent, requested $2,000 from the school board to install concrete floors in the campanile in December 1936. 12 The tower was built with wooden floors and was structurally unsound. The superintendent remarked that the tower was a drain on public funds, and required $600 per year to have the brick tower repointed. The campanile was ultimately removed in 1958. 2


Facing declining enrollments and fiscal austerity, Larimer School was closed in June 1980. 3 The stained glass windows in the school were removed shortly after and sold for $12,000. 14 The city requested sealed bids for the sale of the school but found no takers in February 1982, 16 and decided to hold a public auction of the building and its contents on December 14. 4 15

The school was sold to Ann Swartz, a former teacher at Larimer who wanted to repurpose the complex as a community center and for senior housing. 17 The plans never came to fruition over funding. Swartz died in 1996, curtailing any work on the project. Another plan, by Ora Lee Carroll of East Liberty Concerned Citizens, envisioned the school becoming a senior living facility and offices for supportive services, but funding for the proposed $8 million idea never materialized. 19

In November 2010, A Second Chance, Inc., a foster care agency, purchased the building from the estate of Swartz for $50,000 with plans to relocate its operations and 125 employees from East Liberty to the former school. 17 The $6 million proposal received the backing of East Liberty Development Corporation and the East Liberty Concerned Citizens Corporation. While A Second Chance hired an architect and made initial repairs to the roof, no work on the rehabilitation of the school began due to a lack of funding. 19

The derelict school was then sold to Emmett Miles of the not-fot-profit Fishers of Men and Keith B. Key in 2005, who had planned on renovating into 36 senior housing units and community service space. 18 19 The partners sought $1 million in low-income tax credits 20 and state historic tax credits to assist in the financial aspects of the $14 million development. 19 KBK Enterprises, the selected developer for the project, 18 completed a two-phase environmental assessment on the buildings in mid-2015. 19 The renovation project became stalled over a lack of financing and the property was sold to the city’s Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) in 2016. 23

In November 2018, St. Louis-based developer McCormack Baron Salazar and the housing authority’s non-profit arm, Allies & Ross Management and Development Corp., announced that the Larimer School would be renovated into 35 apartments, with the construction of seven townhomes across Winslow Street complimenting the development. 21 22 23 In July 2019, the developers received state historic tax credits to assist in the financial package, and in June 2020, the URA voted to increase construction lending by $517,261 and the architect’s contract by $23,000 on the conversion of the school’s auditorium and gymnasium into developable space. 21 The vote brought the budget for the conversation of the gymnasium to just over $3 million.



  1. United States. Dept. of the Interior. Pittsburgh Public Schools Thematic Group. Comp. Lu Donnelly. Washington: National Park Service, May. 1986. Web. 23 Mar. 2014.
  2. Donnelly, Lu. Larimer School. N.p.: Pittsburgh History & Landmarks Foundation, 1985. Pennsylvania Bureau for Historic Preservation. Web. 22 Mar. 2014.
  3. “Larimer School sale bids.” Pittsburgh Post-Gazette 29 Jan. 1982: 6. Print.
  4. Gubanic, Barbara. “Auction new twist as Larimer School is going on block.” Pittsburgh Post-Gazette 13 Dec. 1982: 4. Print.
  5. “Politics on a School Board.” Pittsburg Press 3 Jun. 1904: 10. Print.
  6. “Schools Will Open Monday.” Pittsburg Press 4 Sept. 1904: 3. Print.
  7. “Will Try To Oust Clark.” Pittsburgh Press 13 Jul. 1905: 1. Print.
  8. “School Board Approves Plan.” Pittsburgh Press 19 Feb. 1930: 13. Print.
  9. Unused.
  10. “Order Plans for Schools.” Pittsburgh Post-Gazette 24 Sept. 1930: 17. Print.
  11. “Expect School Attendance to be Increased.” Pittsburgh Press 28 Aug. 1931: 32. Print.
  12. “‘It Shall Not Lean,’ Board Says of Tower at Larimer School.” Pittsburgh Press 22 Dec. 1936: 12. Print.
  13. Marcus, Caren. “School ‘Finds’ Classy Window.” Pittsburgh Press 13 Jul. 1980: C1. Print.
  14. “Larimer School Set to be Sold by Board Soon.” Pittsburgh Press 29 Oct. 1981: A6. Print.
  15. “Notice of Public Auction of Real Estate by the School District of Pittsburgh.” Pittsburgh Press 22 Nov. 1982: C11. Print.
  16. “Notice of Public Sale of Real Estate by the School District of Pittsburgh.” Pittsburgh Post-Gazette 28 Dec. 1981: 31. Print.
  17. Ackerman, Jan. “Foster care agency buys Larimer school.” Pittsburgh Post-Gazette 26 Sept. 2001: A15-A16. Print.
  18. “Larimer School.” KBK Enterprises 2016: n.p. Web. Article.
  19. Morrow, Christian. “KBK Enterprises to renovate Larimer School.” Pittsburgh Courier 25 Jun. 2015: n.p. Web.
  20. “2015 Low Income Housing Tax Credits Applications.” Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency 19 Feb. 2015: 1. Web. Listing.
  21. Lord, Rich. “Larimer School redevelopment, housing get new funds.” Pittsburgh Courier, 13 Jul. 2020.
  22. Torrance, Luke. “Five affordable housing developments receive tax credits from state.” Pittsburgh Business Times, 12 Jul. 2019.
  23. Giammarise, Kate. “Housing Authority approves plan to redevelop Larimer School.” Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 1 Nov. 2018.


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We can help with any historical restorations of sills, headers, decorative stone art pieces, etc.
Cornerstone Architectural Products, LLC
234 Northeast Rd #5
Standish, ME 04084

Simply a gorgeous property. As an Arch Designer, I see the potential! It will be even more stunning than ever! Cannot wait to see it complete! Please call me if I can help with ANY Design needs! I love these buildings! Just a diamond in the rough!
Leslie Bilotta

What are the proper ways to contact the owner? I am also interested in getting some photographs and don’t want to trespass.

Hello everyone. I am Kisha with i-Fathom magazine. We did our photoshoot at Larimer. IT IS NOT ABANDONED!!!! I repeat IT IS NOT ABANDONED!!! The.owner is super friendly but does not take kindly to people who trespass and will call the law (and seek the maximum fines possible). The building is under construction and will be reopening as a retirement home for the elderly. I do not suggest that anyone tries to break into the Larimer building again i can not stresss enough the owner will press chargers on anyone who tresspasses. i-Fathom took the proper steps in order to use Larimer as their location for the upcoming sports issue.
i-Fathom is online/print, please take a moment and check out skater Naz Walker @ Larimer. The issues will be release the 1st week of October. Thank you.
Kisha Farrar

Where would one find the contact information? I’m a local cinema student looking to film a project in an abandoned school (or something of the likes) and this place looks perfect.

Well could you give a little more information on who the own is and/or how to contact them?

I am also interested in photographing this site with either myself as the subject or with additional models (fashion shoot like the commenter above). How does one gain access to this building?

I’m interested in photographing the inside of the Larimer School, and am wondering if it is readily accessible, or if permission needs to be secured in advance.
Thank you.

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