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Some Fun Facts

Discover fun details about the Fourth Avenue building, Dollar Bank's ties to the history of Pittsburgh and more!

The Case of the Missing H

Dollar Bank Trustee George T. Oliver served as a United States Senator from 1909 to 1917. One of the first debates he had to settle was right in his home town. That's right -- the case of Pittsburgh's missing "H."

It seems the U.S. Board on Geographic Names, in an attempt to standardize spelling, had taken away Pittsburgh's "H" in 1891. And a lot of Pittsburghers wanted the "H" back.

So Senator George Oliver, working with Pittsburgh Postmaster William Hamilton Davis, held a special hearing in front of the Board on Geographic Names to plead Pittsburgh's case. That's Pittsburgh WITH an "H." They were successful. So that's how George T. Oliver helped put the "H" back in Pittsburgh!


Origin of Phipps Conservatory's Neptune Statue

Dollar Bank's Fourth Avenue Building opened to the public in April 1871. In 1874, Dollar Bank commissioned Belgian-born sculptor Peter C. Reniers to create a fountain and Neptune statue for the rear courtyard of the building.

The 1874 job was one of several that Reniers would perform for Dollar Bank on the Fourth Avenue Building in the 1870s and 1880s. The others were smaller tasks involving marble carving and tile repair. Reniers' creation of Neptune and a fountain was some of his grandest work. The irony is that his role as Neptune's sculptor was lost over the years, and the identity of the statue's creator remained a mystery for more than a century, until an old bank ledger provided the critical solution.

Dollar Bank's cash books record that a payment of $2,500 was made to Mr. Reniers (miswritten as "J.C. Reniers" rather than "P.C. Reniers") on July 30, 1874, for a "Fountain & Statue of Neptune."

Fourth Avenue was home to Neptune for twenty years. In the mid-1890s, however, Dollar Bank's growth made expansion of the Fourth Avenue Building  necessary. A plan to add three offices to the rear of the building meant that the courtyard, fountain and statue would be displaced.

In June 1895, Dollar Bank's Board of Trustees held a vote to decide where to donate the Neptune statue. George T. Oliver nominated the City of Pittsburgh to receive the statue, while Oliver Scaife nominated Allegheny City. The majority voted in favor of the City of Pittsburgh. 

Neptune was placed at the front entrance of Phipps Conservatory, where he remained for a number of years until vandals stole his trident and he was put in storage. 

In the 1930s, Neptune was brought out of storage, restored and put on display near the Highland Park swimming pool. 

In 1996, Neptune was repaired and restored to his original bronze finish and returned to Phipps Conservatory.

Heritage Center Fun Facts

  • Dollar Bank purchased two of six lots of land for the future Fourth Avenue Building in April 1865 for $12,000.
  • Dollar Bank's Fourth Avenue Building opened for business on Monday, April 3, 1871. The Bank paid a $2.00 moving charge to haul ledgers and office items by cart from our previous location, a set of rented rooms at No. 65 Fourth Avenue in the Jones Building (between Wood and Market Streets).
  • The Fourth Avenue Building's 1871 facade contains more than 14,000 tons of brownstone, quarried in Portland, Connecticut.
  • During the 1870s, Dollar Bank planted corn every May in the side lot to the right of the Fourth Avenue Building. The corn was most likely cooked and served to Bank employees. The Bank had a full-service kitchen in the basement from 1871 up through the 1970s, offering free lunches to Dollar Bank employees.  
  • Dollar Bank founder Charles Colton was the first president of the Allegheny County Humane Society. A bird lover, he kept canaries in his office at Fourth Avenue.  
  • Among the accessories purchased for Fourth Avenue in 1871 were spittoons! (Tobacco and cigar retailers were the third most common business in Pittsburgh at that time.)
  • When Fourth Avenue was built in 1871, heat and lighting were provided by coal and gas. The first gas bill was paid in September 1870, while the building was still under construction, and was for $73.42.
  • The Fourth Avenue Building's original street number was 124, which was carved onto a stone scroll above the front entrance. When Pittsburgh's downtown streets were renumbered in the 1890s, the 124 had to be ground off. The scroll has remained blank ever since.
  • In December 1870, Dollar Bank paid $8,000 for a 23,000-pound MacNeale & Urban safe, which was placed in the basement of Fourth Avenue. At the time, this was the largest and most sophisticated bank safe in the city. 
  • There are 30 three-dimensional lion figures adorning the exterior and interior of Fourth Avenue. Lions can be found on doorknobs, walls, and column capitals!
  • The brass lion heads on the walls cover the locations where there were once gas lighting fixtures and gas pipes. Fourth Avenue's lighting was converted from gas to electric in the 1890s.