Category: Allegheny West

  • Birthplace of Gertrude Stein, Allegheny West

    Gertrude Stein birthplace

    “Gertrude Stein was born in Allegheny, Pennsylvania,” says Alice in The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas. “As I am an ardent californian and as she spent her youth there I have often begged her to be born in California but she has always remained firmly born in Allegheny, Pennsylvania. She left it when she was six months old and has never seen it again and now it no longer exists being all of it Pittsburgh. She used however to delight in being born in Allegheny, Pennsylvania when during the war, in connection with war work, we used to have papers made out and they always immediately wanted to know one’s birth-place. She used to say if she had been really born in California as I wanted her to have been she would never have had the pleasure of seeing the various french officials try to write, Allegheny, Pennsylvania.”

  • Western Theological Seminary, Allegheny West

    Western Theological Seminary
    Sony Alpha 3000.

    We saw the Western Theological Seminary at the blue hour last month. Here are a few pictures taken just after sunset, when the light is brighter and just touched with gold.


    The building was designed by Thomas Hannah in 1914. It is now West Hall of the Community College of Allegheny County, which has an admirable record of preserving historic buildings.

    Top of the tower
    Perspective view
    Another perspective
    From the sidewalk
  • Byers-Lyons House, Allegheny West

    Byers-Lyons House
    Sony Alpha 3000.

    The Byers-Lyons house was built in 1898. It was designed by Alden & Harlow, Andrew Carnegie’s favorite architects, and it has fortunately been preserved by being turned to academic uses—it is now Byers Hall of the Community College of Allegheny County. It looked warm and inviting last night at sunset, so Father Pitt took quite a few pictures.

    Perspective view
    From the corner
    In sunset lights
    Byers Hall
    Iron filigree
    Iron portal
    Silhouetted iron filigree
    Ionic capital in iron
    Ionic capital
    Iron gatepost
    Rntrance porch
    Arcaded porch
    Dormers and chimneys
    Dormer and chimney
  • Chimney Pots in Allegheny West

  • Row of Houses on North Avenue

    Row of houses on North Avenue

    These are what old Pa Pitt calls Baltimore-style rowhouses: that is, rowhouses where the whole row is built as one subdivided building right against the sidewalk (as opposed to the typical Pittsburgh terrace, where the houses are set back with tiny front yards). Since North Avenue is the neighborhood boundary on city planning maps, these fall into the “Central Northside” for planning purposes; but socially they formed part of the wealthy section of Allegheny that includes Allegheny West across the street.

    Rowhouses on North Avenue
  • William Penn Snyder House, Allegheny West

    Designed by George Orth, this is—surprisingly—the only New-York-style brownstone palace in Pittsburgh. Here we see it at twilight.

  • The House That Death Built

    940 West North Avenue

    William D. Hamilton was in the coffin business, which he inherited from his father and built up into the National Casket Company, a titan in the death industry. North Avenue is the neighborhood line on city planning maps, so this house is in the Central Northside neighborhood by those standards; but socially it belongs to Allegheny West, and the Allegheny West site has a detailed history of 940 West North Avenue.

    Father Pitt does not know the architect. The style is best described as “eclectic,” but the Gothic windows upstairs give the house a slightly somber and funereal aspect. Since those two trees have been flourishing in front, it is impossible to get a view of the whole façade except in the winter.

    Front door
    William D. Hamilton house
  • Western Theological Seminary, Allegheny West

    Western Theological Seminary

    “Blue hour” pictures are very fashionable these days. Well, old Pa Pitt can do those too, if you really want them.

    Western Theological Seminary tower

    We also have pictures of the Western Theological Seminary by day.

  • House and Carriage House in Allegheny West

    823 North Lincoln Avenue

    The house above faces Lincoln Avenue, a street in Allegheny West where several of the houses had carriage houses on the alley behind. And indeed, if we go around to the alley, or actually to the intersection of two alleys, we find this:

    820 Chapel Way

    It certainly looks like an old carriage house, but it is as big as the house on Lincoln Avenue. Old Pa Pitt is not quite sure about the history of these two buildings. The house may have been built as early as the 1860s, although it was probably altered later; the carriage house appears to date from the 1880s, and in 1890 it appears as owned separately from the main house: the owner is marked as H. Phipps Jr., whereas the house is owned by F. Hubley. But on the copy of the 1890 map we saw on line, the two owners are crossed out and a single owner substituted in pencil.

    Intersection of Chapel Alley and Rope Alley

    Thereafter, the house and carriage house are under the same ownership.


    This iron gate brings a little bit of the Middle Ages to the back alleys of Allegheny West.

  • Lantern in Allegheny West

    Lantern in black and white

    This tasteful lantern is actually one of the two flanking the parking lot for the firm that now inhabits the William Penn Snyder house on Ridge Avenue; it took some careful manipulation of angles to make it look like something other than a parking-lot decoration.