Category: Arlington

  • Some Houses on Arlington Avenue, Arlington

    1801 Arlington Avenue

    Arlington is a forgotten neighborhood whose business district has almost disappeared, but it nevertheless has many pleasant residences on its back streets. The spine street, however, was Arlington Avenue, and because it was the main street of the neighborhood, it was where the grandest houses went up. Some of these houses are in very good shape; some are abandoned and being eaten by jungle; and some are in between. The house above is in good shape except for wanting a bit of paint, and its original woodwork is intact.


    The round-ended porch is a work of art that ought to be preserved. Father Pitt wonders whether it always had brick pillars, or whether it was originally supported by wooden columns to match the pilasters in the rear. At any rate, the brick pillars are old enough that they match the house brick exactly.

    1801 Arlington Avenue
    1809 Arlington Avenue

    This frame house could also use a bit of paint, but much of its woodwork is well preserved.

    1809, front door
    1809, woodwork
    Canopy on the side of the house
    1815 and 1817 Arlington Avenue

    This double house is in excellent shape, and almost completely original except for the asphalt shingles on the roof.

    1821 Arlington Avenue

    Next to that tidy double is a house that probably cannot be rescued. It has been neglected for so long that it never even had a chance to be shrouded in aluminum siding, so its original woodwork, crumbling though it may be, is still there for us to document.

    1821 Arlington Avenue
    Gabel of 1821
    Woodwork ornament
    1825 Arlington Avenue

    And finally, next to that abandoned house, this neat and well-kept Pittsburgh Foursquare.

    We should note that city planning maps make Arlington Avenue the border between Arlington and the South Side Slopes. This is one of those cases where the city’s dogmatic insistence on main streets as neighborhood borders leads to obvious absurdity: it means that the Arlington Playground, Arlington Field, Arlington Spray Park, Arlington Recreation Center, Arlington Baseball Field, and so forth, are not in Arlington. In this case, old Pa Pitt ignores the city’s boundaries and speaks of “Arlington” the way Pittsburghers have always meant it.

    Cameras: Konica Minolta DiMAGE Z6; Sony Alpha 3000 with Industar f/3.5 50mm lens.

  • St. James Evangelical Lutheran Church, Arlington

    Now a residential duplex, this is a tiny Romanesque church made to seem much more substantial by its weighty tower and its steeply pitched roof.

  • Spring Lane Hotel, Arlington

    Ghost sign

    Making your establishment a “hotel” was an easy way to get a liquor license for a neighborhood bar. There did have to be rooms available, of course, and it was noted of some of these establishments that the traffic was mostly local. This one is a little larger than many; perhaps it made some of its money as a rooming house. Hotels like this were still common in older neighborhoods as late as thirty years ago; few are left now, since there is no longer much advantage to maintaining the dusty little rooms upstairs.

    This hotel probably dates from before Prohibition; it was here by 1923, at any rate. Layers of ghost signs document multiple proprietors; the only one old Pa Pitt was able to read with certainty was Wm. Deckenbach.

    Spring Lane Hotel
    Front of the hotel
    Spring Lane Hotel
  • Presbyterian Church, Arlington

    This tiny church is marked “PRES. CH.” on our 1923 map, but no other name is given. It now belongs to the Congregation of Yahshua, which keeps it in good shape. Old Pa Pitt is especially taken with the bright purple paint, which sets apart what is otherwise a tasteful but ordinary little Gothic church. Like many churches in Pittsburgh, it has its social hall and so forth in a basement that is also a ground floor depending on where you enter it.

  • Engine House No. 22, Arlington

    This little old firehouse, built in 1894 (according to the sign), has been lovingly restored as a private residence, complete with its own tower and a roof deck that must have a spectacular view. (Those yellow signs in the windows inform the world that the owner has official permission from the city to use a roof deck in his private residence.)

    Update: The August 2023 Pittsburgh History and Landmarks Foundation newsletter informs us that the foundation has just awarded a Historic Lanmark plaque to this building. According to the PHLF, the architect was the prolific Charles Bickel. The architect responsible for turning it into a residence in 1982 was Sam Taylor.

    On city planning maps, this part of the neighborhood is the South Side Slopes, but it is traditionally called “Arlington.”

  • Christ Blessing Arlington

    A life-size statue of Christ in St. Paul’s Lutheran Cemetery, Mount Oliver, looks out over the back streets of Arlington.