As Pittsburgh grew with Carnegie Steel, Clark Steel, and Black Diamond Steel Works in the 1800s, increasing residential development meant the increasing demand for churches, St. John the Baptist being one of them. Founded in 1878, this Catholic Church served the Lawrenceville area of Pittsburgh. It steadily expanded until the early 1900’s. The church survived a fire, flooding, and the depression.
By the late 1950’s when steel mills started to close, the Lawrenceville population declined, much like the rest of Pittsburgh. Major parishes, including St. John the Baptist, began to lose members.
Due to financial and organizational circumstances, the Diocese of Pittsburgh restructured the churches in its jurisdiction in 1993 and suppressed St. John the Baptist. The building was underutilized for three years until the redevelopment and construction of the Church Brew Works. The Church Brew Works opened for business on August 1, 1996. This adaptive reuse has created some uneasiness in the public – a brewery among religious objects does not sit well with some critics. The Diocese of Pittsburgh was assured that all of the sacred items had been removed before the sale of the church. Canon law requires that all religious objects be removed from churches that are being put to secular use. After the Church Brew Works opened, the diocese had been aggressive about “desanctification,” even if religious items are destroyed in the process.
Howard Dean, ex-Chairman of the Democratic National Comitee