The Workingmen’s Beneficial Union was a German Cultural and Union Organization. This building was one of six branches of the WBU in the Greater Pittsburgh area. It was built in 1880 with a 1st floor 6 lane bowling alley and 2nd floor ballroom added in 1916. The WBU was a major part of its community, not only hosting weddings, bowling and drinking, but also sold insurance and mortgages for over 100 years. To honor the rich history of the building, The WBU was kept as the name for the building when reopening.
The last event that was held at the WBU was on December 31st 1999 for Y2K. This party spanned the whole building and when the party was over the guests left their beer bottles and cigarette butts on the tables and said goodbye. These items were still in place over 15 years later, accompanied with a significant amount of water damage and nature reclaiming the 1 acre plot of land.
Bill and Natasha got the property in 2015 with little more than a dream of what it could be and started working away. They got a quick education on zoning and building code as the building was never legally occupied, had 2 paper streets running through it and was close to collapsing. Nearly every family member and friend of theirs has spent some time pitching in to get the building where it is today. Bill worked as the general contractor and they learned fast from dropping new trusses for the roof and renovating the building entirely.
Continuing the tradition of the century-old Workingmen’s Beneficial Union, Pittsburgh’s WBU is a multi-use/cooperative space in the North Side. There are 2 event venues in the 15,000 square foot building. The outdoor area is a beautifully landscaped space with a fire pit and a portion of the city skyline greeting you above the trees. The first floor venue highlights exposed ceilings, original steel beams and the character of over 100 years of layered paint. The 2nd floor ballroom is the real gem, stealing the show with the original tin ceiling, a grand horseshoe bar, a wedding lounge and an expansive space for up to 200 guests.
We take pride in this unique event space and have worked diligently to restore and showcase the history of this once abandoned building. You are invited to enjoy the hard work and help breathe life back into this historic and charming Pittsburgh institution.
A very special thanks to those that have helped us along the way.