The History of Our Building
Cornerstone Church is uniquely located at the site of the former West View Park Mansion, built in 1958 by George Harton, the owner of the landmark amusement park. Many people in West View still reminisce about company and school picnics at West View Park, where rides such as the Racing Whippet, Big Dips, and the Alpine Ride are still remembered. West View Park was demolished in 1977 to make way for the current West View Park Shopping Plaza.
The West View Park Mansion was amazing for its day. Costing over $60,000 to build, it utilized many of the same old country craftsman who worked for Harton at the Park. The 10,000 square foot structure was created from the finest materials available, including hand tooled Indiana Limestone cut and laid on site. The finished 15-room home included 9 bathrooms, 2 kitchens, 4 log burning fireplaces, a dumb waiter, and a 130,000 gallon in-ground pool.
Harton could easily look over his amusement park kingdom from the office adjoining his bedroom suite. Guests to the home were notable and included ambassadors, political figures, and many famous "Big Band" era musicians. The Rolling Stones even played at Harton's Danceland in 1963, but the legend that they visited the house is uncertain.
Yet, in spite of the lifestyle enjoyed by Harton, life felt unsatisfying and empty. He eventually became estranged from his wife, grew distant from his children and was diagnosed with terminal cancer.
But Harton's story doesn't end there. His son, George, was ultimately to play an amazing role in his father's life. George Jr. found a personal relationship with Jesus Christ through the ministry of a local church and the change in George's life did not go unnoticed by his father. Eventually, George Jr. was able to share the story of God's love and forgiveness with his father. George Harton Sr. then made a personal commitment to faith in Christ and lived a changed life for the last days of his earthly life. George Jr. went on to teach and is currently the academic dean at Capital Bible Seminary in Virginia.
Cornerstone Church purchased the West Park Mansion in 1983 from the estate of Mr. Harton's mother. Though the building exterior still reminds the passerby of the former Mansion, the inside has gone through significant transformations. A sanctuary now occupies the area that once was used as a kitchen and living room. A fellowship hall replaced the lower level bar and ballroom, and a suite of offices was created in the living spaces of the North Wing. Nurseries, classrooms, a commercial kitchen, and a courtyard replacing the pool made the renovation complete.
As visitors enter Cornerstone Church, they are often surprised by how big the facilities really are. "It's a lot like Alice in Wonderland", remarked one guest. "I had no idea how big this place was inside!". For the present time, our u-shaped mansion will continue to retain its outside character and remind people of days gone by. We at Cornerstone consider it a blessing to have such a unique building and history. We invite you to come and visit us soon.
TThe History of our Church
In 1980, Reverend Dr. Michael D. Guthrie and his wife, Cathy, moved back to Pittsburgh to plant a church in the area where they had both grown up. Joined by family and friends, they began gathering in a small fire hall to hold services. Having a heart for the community around them, the church began to grow and only three years later, they moved to the current location on Bellevue Road.
The next years were a whirl of construction projects as the church strove to transform the once-house into a vibrant and useful facility. The church continued to grow steadily and welcomed Pittsburghers from all parts of the city and of life. The church grew to include a music ministry that endeavored to include the traditional beauty in hymns and songs of old while also praising God through the energetic contemporary songs of today. Youth-centered ministries sprang up, as well as ministries designed for the ill, the shut-in, and the elderly. As they expanded and grew, and God's blessings continued to pour out, the church began to seek out a calling. Keen to continue God's work, they prayed for God to give them a mission and a need in the community that they could help fill.
In 2007, the church received a phone call from Catholic Charities, an immigrant and refugee resettlement service used by the United Nations. They had just resettled a group of East Africans who were looking for a Christian connection in their new neighborhood of Pittsburgh. Eager to help, Cornerstone quickly welcomed the small group of refugees and began to assist them in their difficult transition to American life. Yet, even as the church strived to bless these new neighbors, they were already blessing the church. The Africans had brought with them exuberance and joy for all the seasons of life. Their trials and tribulations in war-torn camps had given them resilient spirits of thankfulness and a deep understanding of prayer. Soon, it was realized that this was not just a mission, it was a coming together of brothers and sisters.
As the influx of refugees and immigrants to Pittsburgh continues, Cornerstone has become an international hub for Christians and those seeking Christ from areas all around the world. Roughly 90 of our members are African, but we also represent Russia, China, Burundi, Tanzania, Congo, Rwanda, the United States and more. Our services are much different then many churches in our area. They are adapted to the worshipful attitudes of a variety of languages and peoples, yet they all serve one purpose: the worship of the one true God and a relationship with his son, Jesus Christ.