Category: Allentown

  • Bell Telephone Exchange, Allentown

    Bell Telephone exchange, Allentown, Pittsburgh

    A particularly fine Art Deco design. Neighborhood telephone exchanges were put up all over the city, and the telephone company, which had all the money in the world, always made them ornaments to their neighborhoods. This one still belongs to the successor of the Bell Telephone Company.

    Entrance
    Decorative relief
    Another relief
  • St. George’s Church, Allentown

    St. George’s

    One of our endangered landmarks: it has been closed as a church for six years now, and no one seems to know what else to do with it. A community group wants to preserve it as a community resource, but it takes money to keep up a magnificent church. Allentown seems to be metamorphosing into a trendy neighborhood, but not very quickly into an expensive neighborhood—which is a good thing for the residents, but a bad thing for the prospect of making anything profitable out of this building.

    Allentown was a German neighborhood, and this church was designed by a German architect (Herman J. Lang) for a German congregation. The church was finished in 1912. It has its own Wikipedia article, which identifies it as an example of “the German Romanesque architectural style, an American derivative of the Rundbogenstil style.” Father Pitt approves of that description, because he likes to say the word “Rundbogenstil.” We have pillaged most of the rest of our information from that article.

    From the rear
    Side view
    Entrance
    Carving
    Tower
  • Matz Furniture Building, Allentown

    Ghost sign

    Until fairly recently, almost all the businesses along Warrington Avenue in Allentown bore German names. This building still bears a ghost sign for Geo. Matz & Sons Furniture and Carpets. The style of the building is typical German Commercial Romanesque, of the sort that is very common in the old German neighborhoods in Pittsburgh. The storefront has been filled in with Perma-Stone, one of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, and the windows have been replaced with smaller standard-sized windows (with fake “multi-pane” slats, because window companies insist on adding those even though they look completely wrong on most buildings from the middle nineteenth century onwards). But both those things could be undone when Allentown becomes trendy enough to make restoration worthwhile, and otherwise the façade of the building is very well preserved.

    Matz Building
  • St. George’s Convent, Allentown

    St. George’s convent

    German influence was strong in the German neighborhoods of Pittsburgh, and the particular German variant of Romanesque called the Rundbogenstil—round-arch style—can be discerned in many of our buildings. Few offer it in as ostentatiously German a form as this one, which was the convent for St. George’s parish school in Allentown. It seems to old Pa Pitt that the rhythm of the front is just about perfect, and the three elaborate double arches place the proper emphasis on the upstairs chapel.

    The side was not really meant to be seen, so it is almost completely undecorated.

    Convent
  • Limbach Building, Allentown

    Limbach Building

    This corner building with its German dome is an especially fine example of the style old Pa Pitt describes as German Victorian, which flourished in the German neighborhoods of Pittsburgh. Allentown is teetering on the brink of becoming the next trendy neighborhood; we hope it succeeds.

  • Allentown at Twilight

    The narrow streets on either side of St. George’s Church, taken in 1999. Above: Proctor Way; below, Climax Street.

  • St. George’s Church, Allentown

    St. George’s was the center of the prosperous German Catholic community in Allentown. It was designed by Herman Lang of the firm of Edmund B. Lang & Brother (presumably Herman was the Brother) and completed in 1912. Its spires dominate the neighborhood, and indeed can be seen for miles from other hilltop sites. But the congregation is gone. It was merged into St. John Vianney parish, and then the St. George worship site was closed in 2016. A preservation society has been trying to keep the building alive, but this is an endangered landmark.


    Map