REGENT SQUARE

PGHBOX #5 is a unique loft space in Regent Square.  I met interior designer/collector Chris Castoldi at the September Pittsburgh Record Fest at Belvedere’s in Lawrenceville.  A few days later he came by to grab some more records, and we figured out not only that we were both DJing at a mutual friend’s wedding a few weeks later, but that he had a collection of mod-retro furniture and accessories that he would like to share with us.  The wedding was last Saturday (congrats Cary & Adrienne!).  Chris, fellow DJ Mike Beckett and I had a spectacular time playing records for the wedding guests.  We were even able to fill a few requests – which isn’t always the case when you’re playing all vinyl.

Probably my favorite things from this space are the storage cubes made in the 70s by a company named Ingrid.  They’re the people responsible for those plastic picnic balls that came complete with plates and cups stored inside.  Chris found the cubes at an auction and they’re really good looking and functional for record storage.  I know a lot of folks with large record collections, and storage is always an issue.  Unless you make custom shelves yourself, it’s hard to find storage like this that won’t collapse over time.  I’d love to track some of these down for myself in the future.  Check out the cubes and the rest of his space …

Photographer – Kristen Burns

ALLEGHENY CITY CENTRAL

Randyland was my last stop on this year’s Mexican War Streets House Tour.  I can’t believe I have lived  in this city all my life and until recently hadn’t heard of Randy or his projects.  Randy Gilson purchased his piece of Pittsburgh at auction almost 15 years ago for $10,000.  He’s been making neighborhood history since then, building what has become the city’s most impressive art garden as residence.  His work has extended well beyond his corner – Randy is responsible for many community gardens and streetscapes in the area.

Randy and I have a lot in common.  We both believe that the only thing required to make a decent neighborhood are people who care.  Only now, after decades of planning, is the West North Avenue section of the Northside seeing the start of a revitalized business district.  Having worked for a decade in West Pittsburgh, I know that it really can take a lifetime to turn forgotten neighborhoods around.  Randy and I agree that there’s no time to waste though.  Behind the main streets of any neighborhood you’ll find the heart.  Business districts boarded up?  Homes shuttered?  What can an individual do on his own?  Randyland is a beautiful and extreme example of how one person can make the very most of his piece of the neighborhood.  I totally get that and am so happy to have met a kindred soul.

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Randy spends a lot of time outside.  Passersby know him by name and remarkably he knows their names too. He estimates that 100,000 people visit his place on the Northside each year – neighbors and friends, individuals like me who run into it by accident, professional photographers with clients, and tourists.  There’s been no shortage of media coverage of Randy’s projects, but just now is he starting to focus on marketing – selling t-shirts and telling the impressive story.  His ultimate goal is to hand the property over to the neighborhood and live in a smaller space nearby.  I think Randy and I will be friends for a long time.  The last time I visited he said “You know this is our one month anniversary”.  Thanks so much Randy for opening your place to us !

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Photographer – Joey Kennedy, using pastel film