Category: Avalon

  • Greenstone United Methodist Church, Avalon

    Greenstone United Methodist Church, Avalon

    This church was built in 1906; the Pittsburgh History and Landmarks Foundation was unable to identify the architect, and so far Father Pitt has had no better luck. (Update: The architects are now identified as Vrydaugh & Wolfe; see the end of this article.) It used to be called the Bellevue Methodist Church—Methodist Episcopal, as opposed to Methodist Protestant, since there was one of those, too. This one is in Avalon, which used to be called West Bellevue, and its striking green stone gave it the name by which everybody called it. In 1982, the congregation bowed to the popular will and renamed the church Greenstone.

    This is one of the relatively few churches of this type that have kept their spires.

    The picture above is one of those rare pictures where old Pa Pitt decided to remove all the fat ugly utility cables, because they were just too distracting.

    Greenstone Methodist
    California Avenue front

    The composite picture above shows some of the matching Sunday-school wing. The stitching worked perfectly for the building, but it made a noticeable break in the car parked on the street, which you can see if you enlarge the picture. Father Pitt left a note on the windshield.

    Here is a map.

    Addendum: Perhaps unsurprisingly, given the style—and especially that low tower with four corner pinnacles—this church was designed by Vrydaugh & Wolfe.1 This means that Vrydaugh & Wolfe had two of the four corners of this intersection covered: diagonally across from this church is their Church of the Epiphany.

    1. Source: The American Architect and Building News, July 23, 1904: “Architects Vrydaugh & Wolfe will be ready for bids in a few days on the Methodist Episcopal Church, of Bellevue. The building will be erected at Lincoln and Home Aves., at an approximate cost of $60,000.” ↩︎
  • House on California Avenue, Avalon

    The Bellevue line just narrowly misses this house, making it the first building in Avalon outside Bellevue, and the first on California Avenue outside the city, since California Avenue turns into Lincoln Avenue while it passes through Bellevue. The house was used as the Orion C. Pinkerton funeral home, but when old Pa Pitt took this picture a few days ago, the house was for sale.

    This is clearly the work of an architect rather than just a builder, and enough details are preserved that it would be worth restoring. That blank spot above the awning, for example, probably had a stained-glass window in it, and it could have one again.

    The off-center front door bothers Father Pitt. He finds it hard to imagine an architect designing the house that way originally. Yet the ornamental brickwork above the door matches that above the windows, as if it had always been that way. At the cost of making the picture look a little artificial, Father Pitt has compressed the shadows and highlights to make the details under the porch roof mire visible: enlarge the picture and judge for yourself what is going on with that front door.

  • Church of the Epiphany, Bellevue/Avalon

    Church of the Epiphany

    This church sits right across the line from Bellevue in Avalon, but it is often listed as the Church of the Epiphany of Bellevue. It was built in 1912–1913, and the architects were Vrydaugh and Wolfe, who also designed Warwick House and (as Vrydaugh and Shepherd with T. B. Wolfe) Calvary Methodist in Allegheny West. This is one of our increasingly rare black-stone churches; every stone church in Pittsburgh used to look like this.

    California Avenue front

    Though it is no longer active as a church, everything but the sign seems well kept and loved.

    Home Avenue side

    Addendum: Just this month (August 2023), this building was awarded a plaque by the Pittsburgh History and Landmarks Foundation.

  • Avalon United Presbyterian Church

    Camera: Samsung Digimax V4.

    This splendid building was put up in about 1906 (Update: It was in the planning stages at the end of 1906; see the end of this article.) It has not been used as a church for about a quarter-century, but it is still kept scrupulously beautiful by the current owners. Compare Father Pitt’s photograph above with the old postcard below, printed when the church was very new (to judge by the utter lack of bushes or other landscaping).

    The style is interesting: old Pa Pitt might almost call it Richardsonian Gothic. It has the heaviness of the Romanesque style that Richardson was famous for, but with pointed arches—only just barely pointed, however, as if they are a little embarrassed about being caught in their Gothicness.

    Addendum: The architects were Allison & Allison. Source: The American Architect and Building News, December 1, 1906: “Avalon, Pa.—Architects Allison & Allison, Westinghouse Building, Pittsburg, have prepared plans for a stone church for the U. P. congregation, Avalon. Address the architects.” Now a private home, but beautifully kept.