I remember when the entrance to the Riley Law Building was on Chapline Street. One went through the doors and up a short flight of marble steps; I believe there was like a concierge behind a little counter to help locate the office you were going to.


There was an elevator with an operator who asked “floor , please” and closed the expandable full length gate. Then he turned a crank-like wheel, and the elevator ascended until the operator stopped at your floor, and he would announce “fourth floor.” Often he would raise or lower the car so the level of the two floors would be even. Then he would open the expandable gate to allow the passenger(s) to exit. The elevator operator was a Mr. Nolte, who sat on a high wooden stool softened by a pillow. It seemed to me that Mr. Nolte was installed with the elevator.
When the building went modern with bright new, silent and automatic elevators, Mr. Nolte remained at his post with his wooden stool and cushion calling the floors as he officially pushed the floor buttons with great dignity.

Mr. Nolte had a room at an inexpensive hotel called the Millner also on Chapline Street and spent most of his spare time at the Knight’s of Columbus club across the street. He was an avid Pittsburgh Pirates fan, so much so, that his buddies at the K of C arranged a “Mr. Nolte Day” ( They used his first name, which I have forgotten because he was always Mr. Nolte to me) for him at Forbes Field.
His friends at he K of C bought him a color television set when they first came out. This was a big deal! It was also to celebrate his 90th birthday.

One day when one of his friends went to his room to pick him up to go to a game, he looked around and saw his old black and white TV, but not the new color model. Concerned, he asked “Where is you new color set?” Mr, Nolte replied that it was still in the box in his closet, that he was saving it.

Folks were more optimistic then.

3 Responses

  1. Brian

    What a delightful story. It really takes me back to that time. I love the part about saving the TV in the box. Some of my friends joke about ” saving that for good”.

  2. Jay D

    I would guess that many kids in the 80’s and 90’s? Got their last chance to experience this antiquated service first hand ascending the Professional Building on Market Street. A personable, human piloted trip up a few floors from Dr. Joseph’s ground floor eye exam to choose their new glasses at Professional Optical above.

  3. Paul

    I remember Mr Nolte from the K of C. My dad was a member there at that time.

    Also remember him operating the elevator.

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