Years before 1927, many deaf people were grouping for getting together without any place to meet. They did meet at many places but not to their liking. Then the Pittsburgh Association of the Deaf was founded and 104 Federal Street was its principal place for the meetings and social gatherings on August 14, 1927.
October 1928, the members decided to apply for an application for First Class Charter in the court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, but to find they had an opposition to this application from a group of other deaf people, mostly from Wilkinsburg.
The purpose of this application for the charter was for which the corporation was formed was to encourage wholesome sports, pastime and recreation for its members; to exert a wholesome influence upon the conduct of its members; to help the deaf to secure employment and to aid in the education of its members; also to maintain a club for the social enjoyment of its members. Also to oppose all laws which discriminate the deaf. And so forth.
After a long procession, they finally won the case and became a charter club on September 6, 1929. Peter Graves, Harry Zahn, Samuel Rogalsky and George Cowan were the leaders that time.
According to John Slemenda, at the Federal Street building, they opened every night and many would gather around a coal stove to keep themselves warm. Many would go out looking for coal, mostly from the railroad. The membership dues was 25 cents a month and 25 cents was too expensive that time.
They stayed on the Federal Street building until February, 1935, where they bought a building at 835 Western Ave. but in a few months they could no longer afford to pay the mortgage and they gave it up. Moved back to 104 Federal St. building.
Sometime in 1945, they applied for the state liquor license but was denied. They later reapplied and was accepted. It was in the year of 1946.
By 1954, they decided they wanted to move to the heart of the city. They found one at 119-121 Ninth Street. It was on the second floor with two large rooms. They had to renovate the rear room and added a small kitchen and a good sized bar in this room.
Everything went fine until the Gulf Gas Corp. bought the building adjacent to theirs in 1964 when they decided to raze the building but unfortunately they ruined their rented building by pulling the wall out. The owner, of the building we rented, sued Gulf for damage. Out of the court settlement, the owner decided to sell the building. Thus asked them out. That was sometime in March, 1964.
They had no club for a year — used hotels for meetings, mostly at Fort Pitt Hotel (now extinct). They continued looking for a place to buy. Finally, January 1965, they found a place at 1854 Forbes Avenue, owned by the Amerita Club. They had to sell the place because their liquor license was revoked due to some illegal activities. They wanted to sell the building for $105,000 but luckily we got it for $55,000.
Moved to this place on March 9, 1965, and then next month, April, hosted the Greater Lakes Deaf Bowlers Association (GLDBA) tournament. But on that Sunday morning, they found out that the club was broken in. No money or valuable items missing.
We have been fortunate to have this club and we are doing fine to date.
Submitted by Paul Gum Jr.