Summary Information
Title: Austrian Nationality Room Committee Collection
Collection Number: UA.40.21
Creator: University of Pittsburgh. Nationality Rooms Program. Austrian Nationality Room Committee.

Collection Dates: 1977-2002
Extent: 3.5 linear feet (4 boxes)

Language: English

The Austrian Room Committee began construction of the Baroque-style Austrian Classroom in the Cathedral of Learning at the University of Pittsburgh in 1987, completing it in 1995. The collection of the Austrian Room Committee contains correspondence, financial information, news clippings, architectural drawings, programs, and publications.

ULS Archives Service Center
University of Pittsburgh Library System
7500 Thomas Boulevard
Pittsburgh, PA, 15260
Date Published:

September 2012

Finding aid prepared by Chrystal Hanna and Jessica Phillips.

The first idea for an Austrian Classroom in the Cathedral of Learning came about in 1950 via Walter Sobotka who was a professor in the University’s Graduate School of Retailing. The idea never took hold for reasons unknown. It was not until the Austrian American Cultural Society, formed in 1978 by Dr. Ivo Fischer, accepted a formal invitation from the University of Pittsburgh’s Chancellor, Wesley Posvar, to build an Austrian classroom within the Cathedral of Learning. The Society formed an Austrian Room Committee, joined the Nationality Rooms Council in November of 1987 and began planning for the room. The Society and the Committee made large fundraising efforts to raise the necessary $250,000 required to build this baroque-style classroom, receiving donations from individuals and corporations both in the United States and in Austria. From its inception, the Austrian American Cultural Society dedicated itself to the celebration and dissemination of information about Austrian culture and history. The Society sponsored its first Austrian Ball in 1986 and it has become an annual tradition.

The Austrian Room Committee was formed to undertake the project of designing, funding, and building the Austrian Nationality Room. Through much effort, the Chair of the Austrian Room Committee, Joseph Pandl, and Co-Chairs, Dr. Joseph Novak and Dolores Stehr, worked to create networks among native Austrians, Austrian-Americans, Austrian businessmen and corporations, and local foundations. They succeeded in securing many grants and donations of both funds and materials. In addition, two architects, Franz Gerhard Schnögass of Vienna and Günther Kaier of Pittsburgh, donated their time and effort to design the room. Construction of the room was carried out by the firm John DeKlewa & Sons, Inc. Furnishings for the room were made and shipped from Austria.

Collection Scope and Content Notes

The records of the Austrian Room Committee contain documents relating to all aspects of the Austrian Nationality Room, from its design and inception to the fundraising required to finance the room to its dedication. There are also records relating to the Austrian-American Cultural Society: its formation, its cultural activities, and its involvement with the creation of the Austrian Nationality Room. These documents include personal and business correspondence, form letters, meeting minutes, programs, flyers, memorandums, newspaper clippings, photographs, architectural drawings, and small publications. The records of the Austrian Room Committee are arranged into nine series.


This collection is arranged into nine series:

Series I. Austrian-American Cultural Society Series II. Preliminary Research and Background Information

Series III. Austrian Classroom

Series IV. Austrian Room Design and Decoration

Series V. Publications

Series VI. Special Assistance

Series VII. University Involvement

Series VIII. Fundraising

Series IX. Other Activities of the Committee

Subject Terms

  • Austrian Americans -- Pennsylvania -- Pittsburgh
  • Classrooms -- Pennsylvania -- Pittsburgh
  • Universities and colleges -- Pennsylvania -- Pittsburgh

Corporate Names
  • Austrian American Cultural Society (Pittsburgh, Pa.).
  • Austrian Classroom (Cathedral of Learning, Pittsburgh, Pa.).
  • Nationality Rooms (Cathedral of Learning, Pittsburgh, Pa.).
  • University of Pittsburgh. Nationality Rooms Program. Austrian Nationality Room Committee.
  • University of Pittsburgh. Nationality Rooms Program.

Personal Names
  • Fischer, Ivo Fruhjof
  • Kaier, Günther
  • Schnögass, Franz Gerhard

  • Architectural drawings (Visual works)
  • Correspondence
  • Financial records
  • Press releases

  • University of Pittsburgh

Access and Use
Access Restrictions:

No restrictions.

Acquisition Information:

Transferred to the University Archives by E. Maxine Bruhns in January 2006.

Preferred Citation:

Austrian Nationality Room Committee Collection, 1977-2002, UA.40.21, University Archives, Archives Service Center, University of Pittsburgh

Processing Information:

This collection was processed by Crystal Hanna and Jessica Phillips in March 2006 then revised and updated by Marianne Kasica in April of 2007.


The University of Pittsburgh holds the property rights to the material in this collection, but the copyright may still be held by the original creator/author. Researchers are therefore advised to follow the regulations set forth in the U.S. Copyright Code when publishing, quoting, or reproducing material from this collection without the consent of the creator/author or that go beyond what is allowed by fair use.

Related Material:

The Austrian Classroom is one of 26 Nationality Rooms in the Cathedral of Learning. Records for some of the other nationality rooms are housed in the University Archives.

Separated Material:
Oversized architectural drawings and other related drawings are being stored in a map drawer titled “University of Pittsburgh Cathedral of Learning Nationality Rooms.” Folders 62 and 63 (Narration and Bid Manual) are missing.

Collection Inventory

Series I. Austrian-American Cultural Society

Scope and Content Notes:

These documents report the involvement the Austrian-American Cultural Society had in the creation of the Austrian Room as well as activities sponsored by the Society, such as the annual Austrian Ball, summer concerts, and Christmas parties. These folders contain correspondence, meeting minutes, membership directories, programs, and flyers in addition to information about some of the key people who proposed the creation of the Austrian Nationality Room.

Box 1
Folder 1 General Information, 1987-1996
Folder 2 Foundation, 1996
Folder 3 Articles of Incorporation, October 27, 1986
Folder 4 Invitations to construct Austrian Nationality Room, February 24, 1987
Folder 5 Membership to Directors, 1988-1996
Folder 6 Austrian Ball – Announcements, Invitations, Programs, 1988-2000
Folder 7 Cultural Activities, 1983-1996
Folder 8 Joseph Fischer, 1992-1995
Folder 9 Hans Fleischner, 1987-1993
Folder 10 Joseph Novak, 1988-2000
Folder 11 Activities, 1997-1999

Series II. Preliminary Research and Background Information

Scope and Content Notes:

Most of the materials in this series are documents about the research conducted on Austria before the creation of the room. The remaining folders contain materials on the planning, design, architects, and construction of the Austrian Nationality Room. Documents include correspondence, memoranda, newspaper clippings, photocopies of Austrian art and symbols, and plans for the room’s design and layout.

Folder 12 Austrian Room Survey, 1986
Folder 13 Clothing
Folder 14 Government, Economics, Politics, Products and Tourism
Folder 15 Austrian History
Folder 16 Provinces – Shields
Folder 17 Provinces – Burgenland, Karnten, Niederösterreich, Oberösterreich, Sclizburgh, Steiermark, Tyrol, Voranberg, Wien, 1991-1995
Folder 18 Prominent Austrians, 1987-1992
Folder 19-20 Publicity, 1985-1998
Folder 21 Cost Estimates, 1989
Folder 22-24 Architect

Architect, Search, 1991-1999 Franz Gerhard Schnögass, 1987-1995 Architect of Record, Gunther Kaier, 1977-1995

Folder 25 Austrian Room Design, Final
Folder 26 University of Pittsburgh Facilites Management, 1983-1994
Folder 27-28 Concept and Design, Proposal for CL 314 and for CL 326,
Folder 29 Building Fund, 1988-1992
Folder 30 Construction Meetings, 1993-1996

Series III. Austrian Classroom

Scope and Content Notes:

This series contains correspondence and information provided by the Austrian Room Committee. It contains pictures of the nationality room prior to renovation as well as the finished product and information about decorations used during the Christmas season. The press releases and dedication materials are about the completion of the room and the grand opening of the room in 1996.

Folder 31-36 Planning and implementation activities, 1978-1995

These are files that document the progress of the room, arranged by year. It also includes a file on the original idea of an Austrian Classroom by Walter Sobotka in 1950-1952.

Box 2
Folder 37 Dedication, 1996
Folder 38-45 Activities of the Committee, 1996 - 2002
Folder 46 History, 1987
Folder 47 General Correspondence, 1978-1997
Folder 48 Press Releases, 1996
Folder 49 Press Releases, 1996

Series IV. Austrian Room Design and Decoration

Scope and Content Notes:

This series contains materials related to the planning and design of the Austrian Nationality Room as well as to the significance of various design choices.

Box 2
Folder 50 Inspirations and Models, 1986-1955
Folder 51 Eisenstadt, Esterhazy, Hofbang and Hoftaft, 1985-1995
Folder 52 Compilation of Information on the Proposed Austrian Room prepared by Joseph E. Pandl
Folder 53 Austrian Eagle, 1995-1996
Folder 54-55 Ceiling

Search for an Artist and the Candidates, 1984-1996; Carpoforo Tencalla – Biography and Interpretation of Paintings, 1994

Folder 56 Composers’ Memorial, 1996
Folder 57 Chandeliers, 1989-1996
Folder 58 Furnishings (Friedrich Otto Schmidt), 1989-1996
Folder 59-60 Kachelofen including Catalogues, 1986-1996
Folder 61 Austrian Map,
Folder 62 Narration
Folder 63 Bid Manual
Folder 64 Construction, John DeKlewa & Sons, Inc., 1995
Folder 65 Construction drawings, fabric and correspondence with Maxine Bruhns
Folder 66 Construction, 1992-1996
Map-case 8-18, 8-20 Architectural Drawings

Series V. Publications

Scope and Content Notes:

This series contains multiple serial publications, pamphlets, bulletins and a photocopied book entitled Vienna.

Folder 67 Vienna by Frederic V. Grunfeld, 1981

Folder 68
Folder 68-69 Small publications,

Maps, issues of Wein und die Wiener 1947-1947; and others

Box 3
Folder 70 Austrian Information, 1993-2002
Folder 71 Austria Kultur, 1996-2001

Series VI. Special Assistance

Scope and Content Notes:

These documents relate to aid given by high-ranking Austrians in support of creating the Austrian Nationality Room in the Cathedral of Learning.

File 72 Austrian Trade Commission, 1990-1993
Folder 73 Ambassador Thomas Klestil, 1987
Folder 74 Ambassador Dr. Friedrich Hoess, 1987-1992
Folder 75 Ambassador Dr. Helmut Türk, 1993-1995
Folder 76 Consul General Walter Greinert, 1993-1997
Folder 77 Consul General Walter Kaltheis, 1995-1996
Folder 78 Cultural attaché Dr. Denise von Quistorp-Rejc, 1993
Folder 79 Ambassador Ronald S. Lauder, 1987
Folder 80 Other Consuls, 1987-1993

Series VII. University Involvement

Scope and Content Notes:

This series documents the University of Pittsburgh’s hand in aiding the Austrian Room Committee in their development efforts.

Folder 81 Catherine Brennan, 1993
Folder 82 Heinz Chapel Choir, 1992
Folder 83 Heinz Chapel Choir, 1992
Folder 84 Bernard Koperek, 1990-1994
Folder 85 Dr. Gerald J. Massey, 1990
Folder 86 Nationality Rooms Council, 1989
Folder 87 Dr. Dennison Rusinow, 1990-1991
Folder 88 Dr. Peter Safar, 1988-1994

Series VIII. Fundraising

Scope and Content Notes:

These documents contain information regarding the financial endeavors involved in the creation of the Austrian Nationality Room. Many of the documents are letters from Joseph E. Pandl requesting donations from corporations and individuals with Austrian connections as well as from Pittsburgh area businesses.

Folder 89-90 Potential Donors, Sample Appeal letters.
Folder 91-95 Fundraising, 1987-1993
Folder 96 American Honda Foundation, 1985-1987
Folder 97 Austrian-American Federation, 1991-1997
Folder 98-99 Austrian Banks and Companies, 1991-1993
Folder 100 Bayer – Mobay Foundation and Miles Foundation, 1988-1992
Folder 101 Dr. and Mrs. Belcsak, 1994-1997
Folder 102 Ebner Furnaces, Inc., 1990-1992
Folder 103 Emco Maier Corporation, 1990-1992
Folder 104 Exxon, 1989
Folder 105 The Henry L. Hillman Foundation, 1989-1997
Folder 106 The Hunt Foundation, 1987-1993
Folder 107 Ilbau, Inc., 1984-1989
Folder 108 The Laurel Foundation, 1989-1993
Folder 109 The Laurel Foundation, 1989-1993
Folder 110 May Department Stores Company Foundation, 1989
Folder 111 The John K. McCune Charitable Foundation, 1991-1992
Folder 112 Richard King Mellon Foundation, 1982-1997

Box 4
Folder 113 Pittsburgh National Bank, 1987-1992
Folder 114 Pittsburgh Opera Auxiliary, 1987
Folder 115 Trombino Piano Gallerie, 1988-1992
Folder 116 The UPS Foundation, 1989-1991
Folder 117 Voest-Alpine Industries, Inc., 1990-1993
Folder 118 Westinghouse, 1988-1990
Folder 119 Wiener Frendenverkehrsverband, 1990
Folder 120 Willie’s Ski Shop, 1990-1991
Folder 121 Christopher’s Restaurant, 1992-1993
Folder 122-123 Dr. Ivo Fischer, 1978-1999
File 124 Individual Donations, 1991-1994
Folder 125-127 Prominent Austrians,

Arnold Schwarzenegger; Robert and Einzi Stolz,

Folder 128 Biographical Inserts for Fundraising Letters, 1989-1992

Series IX. Other Activities of the Committee

Scope and Content Notes:

These records contain some activities of the Austrian Room Committee after the opening of the room, including the scholarships to study in Austria as well as some correspondence files with German societies.

Box 3
Folder 129-130 Scholarship committee
Folder 131 Austrian American Counsel
Folder 132 Weltbund der Oesterreichen in Ausland
Folder 133 Alliance of German Societies in Pittsburgh
Folder 134 Association of German Societies