Father Pitt

Why should the beautiful die?

Second Empire Building at 19th and Jane Streets, South Side

Second Empire building

According to old maps, this building was put up in the 1880s. It is typical of the Second Empire style as it trickled down to smaller buildings. Most of it is relatively plain, but note the elaborate brickwork of the chimneys. The dormers may be simplified replacements of the originals, but they harmonize well with the style of the building. Currently the building seems to have four apartments, but it may have been a private house. It is not large, but it stands on a block of much smaller frame houses and thus looks bigger than it is.

Jane Street side
19th Street front

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5 responses to “Second Empire Building at 19th and Jane Streets, South Side”

  1. Would there have originally been a similar house to the right, or was this just build with the expectation that one would be constructed? (Considering the plain, vertical right wall and abrupt termination of the molding.)

    • There was never a matching house to the right. Our favorite Pittsburgh Historic Maps site gives us the answer. Brick buildings are red on most of the maps, and frame buildings yellow. This was always an isolated brick building in a block of mostly frame buildings. It replaced an earlier frame building at some point in the 1880s. It is possible that the builder was guessing that the neighboring buildings would be similarly replaced by grander brick houses, which was a good guess—it did happen in some nearby blocks of the South Side. It just never happened here.

      Note also the peaked roof and narrow dormer of the frame house next door. In spite of its modern siding and ugly replacement windows, it probably dates from the Civil War era.

      That map site is dangerous, by the way. It will eat whole days if you let it.

  2. Lived on the 2nd floor of this building in the early 90s. Kinda odd arrangement of apartments. The whole 2nd floor was my living room and bedroom. The kitchen and bath were in the green building behind and you had to through the common hallway to get to them. Also in the green building the outer wall is closed in porches and there is another outer wall and windows behind it.

    • Thank you very much for this description, which certainly confirms our impression that this structure was not originally built for its current configuration of apartments. Old cities are full of these curious adaptations, as old houses turn into tenements and then into apartments and then into private houses again.

  3. I lived on the first floor in 2003. Used to walk to my job at a coffee shop on Carson every day. Great neighborhood. The house had amazing stuff in the basement (think it belonged to the landlord’s mom).

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