Henry Buhl, Jr. built his fortune in the retail industry with his partner, Russell Boggs. In its day, the Boggs & Buhl Department Store on the Northside of Pittsburgh served the carriage trade of the Western Pennsylvania region. Henry Buhl, Jr. died on June 11, 1927.
Upon his death, as a memorial to “my beloved wife, Louise C. Buhl,” Henry Buhl, Jr. created the Buhl Foundation to which he gave the remainder of his estate after bequests to his relatives, friends and a number of charitable organizations. The Buhl Foundation officially began operations on June 1, 1928. As the first multi-purpose foundation in Pittsburgh, the Buhl Foundation was endowed with $11 million, which made it then one of the ten largest of such foundations in the country.
The Foundation’s assets in recent years have ranged between $75 million to $100 million depending on the volume of grants and financial market conditions over any given period. In a typical year, the Foundation grants between $3 million and $5 million.
What is the relationship between the Buhl Foundation and The Buhl Planetarium and Chatham Village in Mt. Washington.
Two of the earliest projects of the Buhl Foundation were the construction of the Buhl Planetarium and Institute of Popular Science on Pittsburgh’s Northside and the construction of the Chatham Village neighborhood. The Buhl Planetarium opened in 1939 as only the fifth planetarium of its kind in the United States. Through the decades, the Foundation provided over $6 million of funding for the Buhl Planetarium until 1991 when the Buhl Planetarium merged with the Carnegie Science Center, also located on Pittsburgh’s Northside. Inside the Carnegie Science Center, a new Buhl Digital Dome now amazes patrons with the latest in Digital Dome advanced production technology. For questions about the Buhl Planetarium or the Carnegie Science Center, contact 412-237-3400 or visit www.carnegiesciencecenter.org.
Chatham Village, which was conceived, funded and built by the Buhl Foundation, is an architectural gem in Mt. Washington that is studied and visited to this day by planners and architects from all over the world. Constructed in 1932, Chatham Village offered families the opportunity to “ride out” the Depression until a more buyer-friendly economy emerged. The Chatham Village project was turned into cooperative housing in 1960. In 2005, it was designated a National Historic Landmark, taking its place alongside unique historic treasures such as the Allegheny County Courthouse and Fallingwater, Frank Lloyd Wright’s masterpiece. Chatham Village is regularly listed among the top neighborhoods in the United States.
The fund was established in 1909 by famous industrialist Henry C. Frick for the support of “sound education and useful training” and today grants are made with special concern for strengthening K-12 public school education. The Frick Fund joined the Buhl Family of Funds in 1994.
Miss Emilie McCreery, the daughter of William and Elizabeth Rodgers McCreery of Pittsburgh, died in the year 1938. Miss McCreery’s will provided that, following the death of three beneficiaries, the balance of funds be given to the Buhl Foundation to support musically talented students residing in the Pittsburgh region to further their musical education or to enhance young people’s appreciation of music. The McCreery Fund joined the Buhl Family of Funds in 1955.
The Buhl Planetarium building is now part of the Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh and was integrated into that museum as part of an award-winning architectural project undertaken in 2004. The Buhl Foundation provided the Children’s Museum a grant of $1.5 million toward that $28 million project. The sky show that used to be shown in the original Planetarium building is now part of the Buhl Digital Dome and is located within the Carnegie Science Center.
Grants are limited to organizations that are located in Southwestern Pennsylvania and are defined as tax-exempt under section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code and which are not private or operating foundations as defined in section 509(a) of the Code. The Frick Educational Fund giving is limited to Allegheny, Washington, Greene, Fayette and Westmoreland counties.
Grants are not normally made for building funds, overhead costs, accumulated deficits, ordinary operating expenses, general fundraising campaigns, loans, scholarships and fellowships, other foundations, nationally funded organized groups or individuals.
Grants are not made for support of propaganda, sectarian religious activities, or efforts to influence legislation. The Foundation does not contribute to political events.
Support is not provided for charity events or fundraising benefits, nor does the Foundation purchase tables at such events. Conferences or seminars are not normally funded.
The Foundation rarely provides multi-year grants but exceptions occasionally are made depending on the nature and the impact of the particular proposal.
In order to qualify for funding, a proposal should demonstrate the intersection of all or many of the following considerations which are important to the Buhl Foundation:
- Leadership in education, economic and civic improvement, human services and youth development
- Unique, innovative, timely and creative solutions to meeting community needs
- Collaboration with community partners
- Outreach to diverse populations, especially those who are economically disadvantaged or at-risk
- Preventive solutions that are enduring
The greatest volume of Buhl grants, both in total dollars and in number of proposals funded, fall in the range of $2,500 to $25,000. Buhl’s largest grants tend to focus on sustaining regional institutions that play a unique role in our community based on historic relationships with the Foundation and its mission.
The Henry C. Frick Educational Fund supports K-12 public school initiatives and the McCreery Fund focuses on programs that encourage musically gifted and interested students. Grant requests to both of these Funds follow the same guidelines and procedures as the Buhl Foundation.
When a grant has been awarded, the grantee and Foundation agree upon a schedule for grant payments. A report on program achievement, including accounting for dollars spent, is required at the conclusion of the program.
The Buhl Foundation, by will of Henry Buhl, Jr., is focused on Southwestern Pennsylvania with a particular emphasis on Allegheny County, the City of Pittsburgh and the Northside. Letters of inquiry for projects located within this geographic focus will be accepted for comment by the staff. Letters of inquiry within the specified geographic area are considered based upon their alignment with Buhl’s mission, core objectives and guiding principles. Requests outside the geographic focus of the Foundation will be declined.
The Foundation is governed by a Board of Directors that generally has four to six members.
No. Grants are made only to tax-exempt organizations classified under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code and, on rare occasions, to qualified government units and agencies.
No. The Foundation ceased awarding scholarships in approximately 1970.
No. The Foundation does not generally support fundraising events, does not purchase tables for fundraising events, does not contribute to general fundraising campaigns and makes no political contributions.