Penn Commons is a historic building registered with the National Register of Historic Places. The floors of the building have been occupied by furniture manufacturers, a bowling alley, and a bank, just to name a few. The deed transfer list reads like a who’s who of notable Pittsburgh business leaders and philanthropists. We are proud to now occupy this building and bring it new life -- student life!
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The Phipps-McElveen Building at 525–529 Penn Avenue in downtown Pittsburgh was built in 1896 for Henry Phipps, Jr., an early business partner of Andrew Carnegie, real estate developer and philanthropist. During the oonstruction of the building, there was a fire in the neighboring building on May 3, 1887. Neighbor Joseph Horne Co., moved into the McElveen Building despite the fact that it was still under construction. Joseph Horne Co. installed elevators and occupied floors 5 to 8 as a warehouse space, clothing alteration center and company offices. They purchased the building in 1897 and rented the lower floors to The McElveen Furniture Co. for 20 years.
From 1919 to 1935, floors 1 - 4 were occupied by a clothier, Oppenhiem, Collins & Company. In 1937, the basement and first floor were occupied by Walgreens. Northern Furniture Co., later Rway Furniture, moved into the section of the building addressed 529 after being kicked out of their Fifth Avenue location by the War Department and remained in the building until 1951. The building was also occupied by Triangle Recreation Center and Alleys, a bowling alley. Pittsburgh National Bank occupied the building in 1952, notable because the bank later made history as one of the banks to take part in what was, at the time in 1983, the largest bank merger in U.S. history, creating a new entity called PNC Financial Corp.
The building was added to the National Register of Historic Places on May 5, 2000.