Father Pitt

Why should the beautiful die?

Arts-and-Crafts Terrace in Squirrel Hill

Terrace on Denniston Street

Old Pa Pitt enjoys pointing out the many ways architects and builders have answered the terrace question. “This method of building three or six houses under one roof shows a handsome return on the money invested,” said an article about a terrace of houses in Brighton Heights, but the investment pays off only if tenants are willing to move in. The later Aluminum City Terrace development in New Kensington, designed in a starkly modern style by Walter Gropius and Marcel Breuer, had a hard time attracting tenants in spite of cheap rents and an acute housing shortage, because locals thought it looked yucky.

The terrace question, then, is this: How can we build economical housing that is nevertheless attractive enough to seem desirable to tenants?

This terrace obviously had a higher budget than many, so it answered the question with fine design, elaborate decoration, and good materials. The materials were good enough that they have survived intact more than a century: these houses on Denniston Street, twenty-four of them in four rows of six each, were put up before 1923, but they still have their tile roofs and other decorative elements.

Two houses in the tarrace

Probably because of the steep hill they occupy, these houses have unusually generous front yards—generous enough for a whole container vegetable garden, for instance.

Looking up at the houses
Along the row
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