The Loving Cup of Allegheny City Mayor Charles Kirschler, displayed at the Grand Hall at the Priory with a book of newspaper clippings about the mayor and the annexation fight between Pittsburgh and Allegheny City. (Photo/Kelly Thomas)
A valuable piece of Allegheny City history that was rescued from the trash went on permanent display at the Grand Hall at the Priory on May 12.
The Graf family, who own and operate The Priory, the Grand Hall at the Priory and the Priory Fine Pastries, hosted an open house to show off the Loving Cup, a large, three-handled silver vessel, and the Loving Cup Book, both of which were gifts to Allegheny City’s last mayor.
Mary Ann Graf explained that Troy Hill resident and Northside historian Mary Woehleber went “dumpster diving” and found the two artifacts in the trash — most likely the trash of the mayor’s or one of his cabinet member’s descendents.
In 1907, after Pittsburgh voted to annex Allegheny City, Mayor Charles F. Kirschler’s cabinet gave him “The Loving Cup,” a large, three-handled silver vessel, as a “token” of their admiration for his fight to win the mayor’s office in a 1906 election and to prevent the annexation of their city.
The loving cup ceremony is a long-standing wedding tradition in which the new couple shares their first drink together, and symbolizes the joining of two families.
Of course, the “marriage” of Pittsburgh and Allegheny City wasn’t exactly on good terms, and Mayor Kirschler probably didn’t share a drink with the mayor of Pittsburgh on annexation day.
The Loving Cup Book is a large tome filled with newspaper clippings that detail Kirschler’s mayoral campaign and the struggle of the anti-annexationists against Pittsburgh and the Pennsylvania legislature, which passed a law allowing Pittsburghers to have a vote in the annexation debate.
Allowing Pittsburghers the right to vote on the fate of her neighbor spelled the end of Allegheny City, because Pittsburgh’s larger population was in favor of annexation.
Ed Graf, founder of The Priory Hotel, said that a photographer was taking photos of all the pages in the books, and he will make the digital copies available for historians.
Woehleber, who suffered a stroke last fall and can no longer speak, “was afraid these valuable articles would wind up in a basement somewhere,” Mary Ann Graf said.
The Grafs had the cup re-silvered, the book bound together and a custom cabinet made. The cup and book will now sit near the entrance of the Grand Hall to “keep the City of Allegheny alive in the City of Pittsburgh.”