Category: Brighton Heights

  • The Kleber Row Newly Built, Brighton Heights

    Kleber Row in 1916

    Back in October we featured a row of houses designed by T. E. Cornelius on Davis Avenue in Brighton Heights. Thanks to an alert correspondent, here is that same row from the Pittsburgh Daily Post of March 5, 1916, with a caption describing the decidedly modern effect of the style:

    The illustration shows one row of a building operation comprising four rows on Davis avenue, Northside, erected for Henry Kleber by T. Ed. Cornelius, architect. The low raking roofs and heavy square columns give a “Craftsman” effect, and the interior is carried out in a similar style. This method of building three or six houses under one roof shows a handsome return on the money invested.

    Thirteen of these houses were built on the Kleber property. The houses still stand today, and in very good shape.

    The Kleber row today

    The architect and his clients obviously considered this design a success: T. E. Cornelius duplicated it at other sites in the city. It is a backhanded compliment to Mr. Cornelius that some architectural historians have misattributed a group of them in Shadyside to the noted progressive architect Frederick Scheibler. We might pay another compliment to Mr. Cornelius by noting that, everywhere these houses appear, they are in better shape than most of Frederick Scheibler’s rowhouses of similar size and era. These houses were built cheap, but they were built to last.

  • John Morrow Public School, Brighton Heights

    John Morrow Public School, Brighton Heights

    The original school was designed by Samuel T. McClaren (or McClarren; we see it spelled both ways) in 1895. Over the decades it was encrusted with annexes and additions, until much of the original building was hidden behind later growths.

    Original building

    This is a small section of the original building peeking out between later additions. Note the tapestry brick on the second floor.


    The care that went into designing and assembling this chimney ought to make us denizens of the twenty-first century ashamed of ourselves.

    Annex No. 1

    Annex No. 1 was built after 1903 but before 1910, obscuring the whole eastern side of the original building. This addition was probably also designed by McClaren, and matches the original very closely.

    What is that little rectangular block of wood below the small central windows on the first floor?

    Ten-dollar reward

    It’s a sign, probably almost as old as the building to judge by the style of the lettering, and with some effort we can read almost all of it:

    $10.00 REWARD.

    Old Pa Pitt has not succeeded in deciphering the very last line, which probably tells us where to apply for our ten bucks.

    Annex No. 2

    In 1922, Annex No. 2 was built, obscuring the west side of the original building. Insofar as Pittsburgh topography allows, it is identical to Annex No. 1, but this time it is dated:

    Date stones: 1922

    The difference in brickwork indicates that there were probably windows here originally.

    Oblique view

    What this town needs is more utility cables.

    1958 addition

    In 1958, the school got its last major addition, which covered most of the Davis Avenue front of the original building. By that time it was simply impossible to match the architecture of the original, but the architect made some attempt to echo it with similar Roman brick and three Rundbogenstil arched windows on the front. The brickwork here looks the same as the brick infilling of the windows in the annex above, which probably dates that work.

    The school is still in use as Morrow Elementary School.

  • Greater Allen African Methodist Episcopal Church, Brighton Heights

    California Avenue side of the Greater Allen African Methodist Episcopal Church

    This church has a complicated history that perhaps someone from Brighton Heights could help old Pa Pitt sort out. It was built in 1907 as a Congregational church, replacing an earlier frame building. By 1923 it was the Eleventh United Presbyterian Church. Now it belongs to the Greater Allen African Methodist Episcopal congregation, which has kept it in beautifully original shape, right down to the uncleaned black stones, which Father Pitt loves.

    Cornerstone with A. D. 1907 inscribed
    Davis Avenue side
    Davis Avenue side straight on
    Rear of the church
  • Three Flemish Houses by Frederick Osterling, Brighton Heights

    Osterling houses on California Avenue

    This trio of Flemish-style houses is one of the most remarkable features of the Brighton Heights neighborhood. Frederick Osterling lived in Brighton Heights and designed several houses worth seeing there; these from about 1900 were beautifully restored as the “Osterling flats” a few years ago.

    Center house
    All three houses
  • Kleber Row, Brighton Heights

    This is only part of the row: there are thirteen of these houses in all. But if you’ve seen one, you’ve seen them all, except for the one with the paste-on false shutters. The row was built in 1915 or shortly afterward as rental properties for Henry Kleber, Jr.; the architect was T. E. Cornelius,1 who shows up frequently in trade magazines of the time as a designer of middle-class houses. Cornelius’ Arts-and-Crafts sympathies are very much in evidence here: one almost feels as though the roof of the row ought to be thatched.

    By an odd coincidence, there is another line of rowhouses diagonally across Davis Avenue from these, and once again there are thirteen in the row.

    1. Our source for this information is the Construction Record. “Architect T. E. Cornelius, House building, awarded to George E. McKee, 6 Alger Street, the contract for building 13 two-story brick veneered and frame residences on Davis avenue, Northside, for Henry Kleber, Jr., 6020 Crafton street. Cost $25,000.” Kleber is marked as owner on a 1923 map. ↩︎
  • Emmanuel Baptist Church, Brighton Heights

    Built in 1914, this little church (now Emmanuel Christian Church) is a fine example of the simple Arts-and-Crafts interpretation of Tudor Gothic that was fashionable for small churches in the early 1900s. The only specifically Gothic detail is the large front window; the tower has a bit of decorative half-timbering, but the rest is unadorned and built with cheap but attractive materials.

    Addendum: According to the Construction Report for August 23, 1913, the architect was Pierre Liesch. “Architect Pierre Lessch, 18 East Fourth street, Aspinwall, is taking bids on erecting a one-story brick veneer church on Davis avenue near Brighton road, Northside, for the Emanuel Baptist congregation. Cost $15,000.” It should be noted that this magazine is poorly edited and frequently misspells names.

  • Saint George Ukrainian Catholic Church, Brighton Heights

    St. George Ukrainian Catholic Church

    This is one of Father Pitt’s favorite modernist churches in the city. It seems like an effortless blending of architectural modernism with the ancient idioms of Eastern Christian tradition, but of course things in art that seem effortless always take a great deal of effort. If modernism in church design always came out looking like this, old Pa Pitt would have adopted it enthusiastically.

  • California Avenue Methodist Episcopal Church, Brighton Heights

    California Avenue Methodist Episcopal Church

    We’ll have to wait for winter to get a good view of the whole front of this interesting church, which is obscured by a lush growth of mimosa trees. But we can appreciate some of the details now.

    The architect was James N. Campbell. Old Pa Pitt knows of only two churches by Campbell still standing in Pittsburgh: this one and the old Seventh Presbyterian Church on Herron Avenue, Hill District. (There are probably others as yet unidentified.1) Both churches have similar styles, and both have similar histories. They both became African Methodist Episcopal churches: this one was Avery Memorial A. M. E. Zion Church for quite a while. They both were abandoned. This one may still have some hope: it looks as though someone has been trying to refurbish it, perhaps as a private home. But it also looks as though the renovations have stalled.

    Since Father Pitt considers this an endangered building, he has collected some pictures of the more interesting details to preserve them for posterity in case the worst should come to pass.

    Stone ornament
    Tower again
    1. Update: Father Pitt has since identified two other churches by Campbell still standing and in good shape: Carnegie United Methodist Church and the First Presbyterian Church of Ingram, now the Ingram Masonic Hall. They both show strong similarities in style to this one. ↩︎
  • All Saints’ Episcopal Church, Brighton Heights

    All Saints’ Episcopal Church

    Disclosure: old Pa Pitt took some utility cables out of some of these pictures. Fans of Pittsburgh utility cables will have to look elsewhere today.

    A beautiful Gothic church from the 1930s. It is typical of Episcopal churches in Pittsburgh: small but rich, Gothic in style, with a steeply pitched roof that makes up more than half the height of the building. Father Pitt does not know who the architect was.

    Front entrance

    The wooden wheelchair ramp is not the most elegant solution to the problem of access, but it does its job without permanent damage to the building.

    Loaves and fishes

    Loaves and fishes.


    The pelican, a symbol of Christ. In medieval zoology, the pelican was known for feeding her young with her own blood. Modern zoology disputes the data, but as symbolism the legend is irresistible.


    Vine and pilaster capitals at the main entrance.

    Oblique view

    According to the church site, the neatly kept lawn was once the site of a parsonage.

    Side of the building
  • Horst & Mooney Garage, Brighton Heights

    Horst & Mooney Garage

    Now it belongs to a contractor, and the filling-in with concrete blocks and artificial siding is probably a fair sample of a Pittsburgh contractor’s taste. But the building is, on the whole, in an excellent state of preservation. It shows up on our 1923 map as the Horst & Mooney Garage, and we can probably guess what brand of cars it sold and serviced.


    Update: Mr. John Hempel has pointed out that this was a Packard dealer in 1930. “In your fascinating Car Dealers page, Horst & Mooney may have been a Chev dealer more recently, but it was originally a Packard dealer. Pitt archives has a photo – just search Horst & Mooney.”

    Many thanks to Mr. Hempel for pointing out the old photograph. Here is the picture he mentions, and the signs certainly leave no doubt about what cars this dealer was selling:

    You can see a very-high-resolution scan at the Historic Pittsburgh site. Because the resolution is so high, we can see that the little decoration at the peak of the roof was there from the beginning:

    It is possible that this is not meant to be a Chevrolet logo, but both the shape and the blue color seem hard to mistake.

    So Father Pitt’s working hypothesis is that this was a Chevrolet dealer before it was a Packard dealer, but the well-to-do Brighton Heights clientele justified moving up in the world.

    The 1930 photo gives us a good look at the original state of the building and confirms that, except for the filling-in of windows, it has not changed very much. As a bonus, we also get a good look at the California Methodist Episcopal Church and, right at the corner of the garage lot, a streetcar shelter.