Bacchus House – Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania - Atlas Obscura

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Bacchus House

The god of wine stares out at passersby on this busy Pittsburgh thoroughfare. 

In the Regent Square area of Pittsburgh, amid the notoriously bad traffic on Braddock Avenue, frustrated motorists can look on the friendly face staring back at them from the apartment building at 1036 South Braddock Avenue, better known locally as the Bacchus House.

The façade of this otherwise unassuming apartment building is decorated with the face of Bacchus (otherwise known as Dionysus), the god of wine in the Greco-Roman pantheon. (Some youngsters en route to Kennywood have doubtless looked at his full white beard and thought it was Santa Claus on the building’s wall, but the grapevine around his hair is a dead giveaway.) Rather than his usual abode on Mount Olympus, his visage has been looking out on Pittsburgh-area commuters for at least 30 years. The fountain in his mouth has been functional off and on over the years (and winter weather limits its active season).

This is also a special place in local political geography. The neighborhood of Regent Square is actually composed of four independent local governments (the City of Pittsburgh, and the boroughs of Edgewood, Swissvale, and Wilkinsburg). The block in front of the Bacchus House is very nearly a quad-point.

The west side of Braddock Avenue (and Bacchus himself) sits in Swissvale, but cross the double-yellow line to the northbound lane and you’re in Edgewood. (Bacchus’ presence on the Swissvale side may feed a persistent rumor that Edgewood is a “dry” municipality—in reality, it’s mostly just a coincidence that the Braddock Avenue business district’s bars are only on the Swissvale side of the street.) A few houses on the east side of the road make up Wilkinsburg’s Braddock Avenue frontage (starting just north of the Regent Square Theater); both sides of the road are in the City of Pittsburgh starting midway up the block between Overton Street and Henrietta Street.

Know Before You Go

The apartment building is right across from the Regent Square Theater and GetGo gas station, between West Hutchinson Avenue and Overton Street. The 61B bus rolls right past it to the heart of the business district. The apartment building itself is a private residence so please respect the residents' property and privacy.

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