We have mentioned before how thick the air was with clubs in Oakland. Here is one that has been almost forgotten: a small clubhouse by a big architect. The Bellefield Club on Craig Street was designed by James T. Steen,(1) who also gave us the House Building, among many others.
The club opened in 1904; since then the building has had some small alterations. Cheap stock windows have replaced the windows upstairs, with cheap filler to take up the rest of the space. (Father Pitt has not seen a picture of the building in its original state; it is possible that there was a balcony behind those upper arches.) The front has been painted in a gaudy combination of brown and cream; it probably looked better with the original yellow brick. But the alterations are not severe and could be reverted by a sensitive owner.
This building was one of those unexpected discoveries one sometimes makes in the big city. Old Pa Pitt was walking up Craig Street to take pictures of the Craig Street automotive row when this building arrested his attention. He must have gone past it in a car or a bus a hundred times, but this time he noticed it. It seemed like something different from the surrounding buildings. Was it an old theater or some institution? The Pittsburgh Historic Maps site revealed that it had been built as the Bellefield Club, and less than twenty years later in 1923 was inhabited by the Pittsburgh Academy of Medicine. A little more poking around found the architect.(2)
- Our source for this information is a Historic Resource Survey Form for another of Steen’s buildings, the Hiland Automobile Company Building, which was demolished recently to make way for something more profitable. (↩)
- By the way, we have added a footnote capability, so that we can cite our sources without boring innocent readers. (↩)