DOORS OPEN Pittsburgh, Inc, a non-profit, 501(c)(3), was founded by native Pittsburgher Bonnie Baxter because she wanted to share her passion for Pittsburgh’s unique architecture and history in a family-friendly format. Her inspiration to form the organization and create the DOORS OPEN Pittsburgh annual event was her experience attending a similar event while living in Chicago.
The annual walking tour, coming up on its 6th year, opens the doors to 50-60 buildings–many off the beaten path–in select neighborhoods. Each year, hundreds of volunteers and more than 3,000 people show up to explore these buildings with the purpose of celebrating architecture and our history represented in that architecture. The event offers behind-the-scenes access, unique experiences or just the opportunity to explore buildings that oftentimes we drive past, walk past or had no idea they were even there!
In 2019, we began offering monthly bus or walking historical tours that explore neighborhoods beyond what is offered during the annual event. These Specialty Tours each presents a specific theme, and the story of that theme unfolds as we visit each the buildings along the tour route. Once inside those buildings, the people who maintain the historical significance of that building are onsite to share their story, reflective of the theme of the tour. Themes have included: Underground Railroad, ethnic neighborhoods, LGBTQ+ history, music, arts appreciation.
Due to COVID-19 we had to temporarily suspend Specialty Tours and began to offer virtual storytelling events. These follow the same format of our in-person storytelling events, highlighting our iconic buildings, diverse neighborhoods and unique personalities–but are experienced on your screen. Themes have included industry titans, new buildings, ethnic neighborhoods, city steps, and local artisans.
Since 2016, the DOOR OPEN Pittsburgh has brought 15,000+ people into local landmarks and cool spaces to explore in person and virtually. We encourage nebbiness!
DOORS OPEN Pittsburgh is “grass-roots” in the most real sense, with Bonnie serving as the full-time Executive Director, responsible for all day-to-day activities necessary to make all of the events happen.
As for full-time paid staff, there aren’t any except for Bonnie.
But DOORS OPEN Pittsburgh has been fortunate to have an event-day contingency of 250+ volunteers for its annual event every October, and for its monthly Specialty Tour series.
And DOORS OPEN Pittsburgh is also supported by a few independent contractors:
- Nicole Roach, Social Media Director
- Michael Sanchez, Print Designer
- Dr. Pam Gianni, Tour