Mention South Park’s Cascades at Stone Manse to Carolyn Savikas and she’s transported back to the cool, shallow pools where she splashed as a young girl. “We would go for the whole day. My mom would pack peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for lunch and she would sit on the picnic benches with my aunt. We wouldn’t go home till dinner,” she recalls fondly.
Those days spent at the Cascades spurred lifelong memories for Savikas, who grew up in Mt. Oliver, then Baldwin and now lives in South Park Township with her husband, Jack Fishell. “The exciting part was running through the three shallow pools and standing under the waterfalls,” she said, remembering the cool water refreshing her on hot summer days.
Built in 1927, the Cascades water feature was created using stratified rock quarried from South Park. Designed by landscape architect Paul Riis, this recreational destination of waterfalls and wading pools became a summertime destination for families seeking respite from the heat of the city. The site, located off Corrigan Drive near the Kilmer Circle, was closed in the 1970s due to water filtration issues. Swimmers then had the option of using the always popular Wave Pool.
Vegetation eventually filled in the Cascades site, leaving just the outline of the original stonework visible. The industrious Paul Riis Legacy Preservation Volunteers have spent many hours clearing the Cascades to reveal the long-buried features.
As a frequent volunteer in South Park on other projects, the sight of the long-closed Cascades got the wheels in Savinkas’ head turning. Drawing on her fond memories, she knew its rustic charm and cool waters would be an attractive destination for today's young families. She accepted the invitation to join the Friends of South Park council group with the hopes of focusing her efforts on renovating the Cascades. Coincidentally, that project was already in the works. A plan for restoring the Cascades was announced this summer!
Allegheny County, along with the Allegheny County Parks Foundation, the Pittsburgh Penguins Foundation’s Operation Restore, Citrone Thirty/Three Foundation and the PA Dept of Conservation and Natural Resources are partnering to restore the Cascades to its historical grandeur
update it with full accessibility for all and advanced water treatment systems.
As soon as Savikas and her husband learned about the renovation, they made a generous donation to turn it into a reality. Plans to begin construction next year are contingent on raising funding.
It’s not unusual for Savikas to give back. Savikas is a regular volunteer, even cheerfully planting trees with the Allegheny County Parks Foundation last spring on Sunny Slopes in brutally cold wind and snow. “It’s fun! I’ve signed up for the November planting!” she said, undaunted. For 15 years she and a friend took care of the community garden at the triangle at Brownsville and Maple Springs. As an avid gardener, she has volunteered many hours at Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens.
Her affection for South Park includes many memories, from attending the county fairs with her dad, visiting the China Wall in her teenage years to cross country skiing on the golf course and visiting the ducks and buffalo with her then-young children, Darren and Robin. They enjoyed family picnics and reunions and when her grandchildren were younger, she repeated all those activities with them.
We are very grateful for the support Savikas sends to the Allegheny County Parks Foundation in her unique ways! If she has inspired YOU, visit
to learn more about the Cascades project and make your own donation to this exiting project!