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Help save history in your community by restoring and reusing historic buildings.

Fat Head's Saloon

Fat Heads

“It's important to save this building because it is a Pittsburgh landmark. The first person to work here came from Germany. He built the building and his name was John Henry Sorg. He had a big beard (see photo below).”
—student quote

1805-07 East Carson Street
Pittsburgh, PA 15203

Date and Style
Fat Heads consists of two historic buildings:
—1805 East Carson Street was built in 1874 in the Victorian Italianate style.
—1807 East Carson Street was built around 1870 in the Victorian style, and has been remodeled.

Erected during the reign of Queen Victoria of England (1837-1901), this Victorian Italianate building is based on the style of Italian Renaissance villas. Notice the cast-iron finials rising from the roof; the projecting eave, or overhanging roof edge, with heavy brackets; and the arched window openings accented with decorative detailing and stone.

Facade improvements funded through the Urban Redevelopment Authority's Streetface Program
Click here to play the game for this building.
Facts and Stories Worth Knowing
  • John Henry Sorg (1833-1910) constructed this building in 1874. He and his son-in-law William Henning used it as an office for their businesses in insurance, real estate, and notary public (see photos below). The father of nine children, Sorg and his family moved from 1813 Sarah Street to 1805 East Carson in 1888 and lived in the upper stories of this building.
  • This was the last South Side building constructed by John Henry Sorg. He built a house on Jane Street, his first residence on Sarah Street, and the German Lutheran Church on 18th Street and the German United Evangelical Church on Jane Street.
  • He became a School Director of the Borough of East Birmingham, and, when the South Side Boroughs were consolidated with the City of Pittsburgh in 1872, he suggested that the 26th Ward School on Sarah Street be named “Humboldt,” in honor of the German scientist and founder of modern geography. Sorg presented the school with a bust of Alexander von Humboldt.
  • John Henry Sorg immigrated from Germany to the United States in 1852, at the age of 18. His mother, father, and sister had died from an illness. He boarded the “Yankee Blade,” crossed the Atlantic Ocean in 39 days, landed in New York, and spent six days traveling to Pittsburgh by train, steamboat, and canal boat.
  • He was first employed at a tin and cooper works on Liberty Street, and was then apprenticed to a contractor in Birmingham to learn carpentry. He attended evening school to learn English reading and writing. In 1857 he became a United States citizen, and cast his first presidential ballot in 1860 for Abraham Lincoln.


  • He was elected to the Select Council of the City of Pittsburgh in 1875 (and again in 1888), appointed alderman in 1879, and elected to the Board of Directors of the South Side Hospital in 1898. He was nicknamed the “Squire of the South Side.”
  • The buildings adjacent to Fat Heads were destroyed by fire on April 11, 1982 (see photo below). In time, a new building housing Bruegger’s Bagels was constructed next to Fat Head’s.
  • Fat Head's, in business since 1992, has more than 50 meals to choose from and is a favorite place for many Pittsburghers and visitors.
  • A new paint job in 2006 accented building details at Fat Head’s (see photos below).
  • In 2010, Fat Head’s Saloon started serving their very own bottled beer for the first time – the Head Hunter brew.

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Additional Images