Category: Brookline

  • Old Frame Church in Brookline

    Old St. Mark’s

    There are a couple of interesting used-to-bes about this frame duplex in Brookline. First, it used to be St. Mark’s English Lutheran Church: it was built before 1910, when the neighborhood was first being developed. In 1929, the church moved several blocks away to a new stone building designed by O. M. Topp, and this was converted to a double house.

    Second, although the building stands on Bodkin Street now, it used to be on Brookline Boulevard. It was not the building that moved, however: the street moved out from under it. Brookline Boulevard used to go down toward West Liberty Avenue in a straight line from the top of the hill, but the grade was too steep for streetcars, which were routed in their own right-of-way that made a long curve down the hill. When the streetcar line to Brookline was abandoned, the western section of Brookline Boulevard, from Pioneer to West Liberty Avenues, was routed over the abandoned streetcar right-of-way, and the old Brookline Boulevard was renamed Bodkin Street.

    Looking up the steps
    403 and 405 Bodkin Street
  • Fire Tower in Brookline

  • Abandoned Houses Along Saw Mill Run

    Abandoned house from the 1880s

    We saw these houses a little while ago in pictures taken with a cheap cell-phone camera and in poor lighting. Since the houses will probably not be here forever, old Pa Pitt went back to document them in more even light with a more capable camera. These are the last remnants of a little village along Saw Mill Run, connected to the other side by the one-lane Timberland Avenue bridge. The one with the green siding above dates from the 1880s, the one below from the 1890s, according to the Pittsburgh Historic Maps site. Obviously they had substantial alterations during their lifetimes, but we can still recognize them in this picture from 1909 at the Brookline Connection site.

    1890s house
    Both houses
  • Grace Lutheran Church, Brookline

    Grace Lutheran Church

    Since 1959 this has been Pittsburgh Baptist Church, our first Southern Baptist congregation. But it was built in 1908 as a Missouri Synod Lutheran church, Grace Lutheran. It is perhaps Brookline’s most striking church, built in a unique variant of the Arts-and-Crafts Tudor Gothic style that was popular then. The massing of the forms is particularly pleasing.

    Pittsburgh Baptist Church
    Grace Lutheran, originally

    Addendum: The architect was John A. Long, as we discover in the Construction Record, September 16, 1911: “Martsolf Brothers, House building, have secured contract for the erection of a two-story cement stucco church and parsonage, on Pioneer avenue, Brookline, for the Grace Evangelical Lutheran Congregation. Architect John A. Long, Machesney building, prepared the plans.”

  • Resurrection Church, Brookline

    Resurrection Church

    If old Pa Pitt were more ambitious, he would remove those utility cables from the photograph, or from the street if he were more ambitious than that.

    Resurrection Church was built in 1939 in an interesting modernist Gothic style, anticipating the streamlined modernist Gothic that would have a brief vogue after the Second World War. This design managed to give the congregation a sumptuous Gothic interior while keeping the exterior outlines starkly simple. The main entrance, for example, is recessed far into the building, so that only by standing right in front of it can we see the elaborate Gothic tracery and inscription.

    An update: The 1939 church was designed by William P. Hutchins, who gave us many distinguished late-Gothic churches and schools, including St. Mary of Mercy downtown.

    Side entrance

    One of the side entrances.

    The Light of the World

    “Light of the World” relief over the side entrance.

    Resurrection School

    Before 1939, Resurrection Parish worshiped in the school next door, which was built in 1909. As usual, the Brookline Connection site has a thorough history of Resurrection Parish. From it we learn that the school was built in stages: the first two floors of the front were built first, with the rear and top floor added later. (Addendum: We have found that the architect of the second-floor addition was John T. Comès.1 This strongly suggests that Comès was the architect of the original building.) We are also told that the sanctuary was on the “ground floor,” but as we see from this picture, “ground floor” can be a slippery concept in Pittsburgh.

    Oblique view

    The school closed some time ago, and it is now a retirement home. Resurrection Church is now a worship site of St. Teresa of Kolkata parish, which also includes St. Pius X church in Brookline and St. Catherine of Siena in Beechview.

    1. Source: The Construction Record, January 13, 1912: “Architect John T. Comes, 1005 Fifth avenue, will be ready for estimates about January 15th on erecting a one-story brick fireproof parochial addition at Brookline, for the R. C. Church of the Resurrection, Brookline. Cost $15,000.” The original building cost $22,000. ↩︎
  • Brookline Boulevard United Presbyterian Church

    Brookline Boulevard United Presbyterian Church

    The main part of this church building, which now belongs to the Tree of Life Open Bible Church, opened in 1924. The style is a kind of utilitarian Perpendicular, with attractive stone textures and buttresses and a couple of broad pointed Tudor arches characteristic of the English Perpendicular style; but the side windows are plain rectangles.

    This and later additions largely conceal an older chapel built in 1913, which became the rear of the new church. The Christian Education wing along the Brookline Boulevard side was built in 1953 in a more elaborate (and earlier) Gothic style that harmonizes well with the main building. Clearly the church was feeling rich in the early 1950s, when many other churches were abandoning Gothic altogether and building modernist warehouses.

    The Presbyterians sold this church to the Tree of Life congregation in 2016, but rented space in it for two more years until giving up in 2018.

    Lower side
    From across intersection
    Brookline Boulevard side
  • St. Mark’s Evangelical Lutheran Church, Brookline

    St. Mark’s Lutheran Church

    When this small but rich Gothic church opened in 1929, it was intended to be temporary. A much grander church would be built next to it, and this would become the Sunday-school wing. But decades passed and the new church had not yet been built. Meanwhile Gothic architecture had become extinct. Finally it was decided to keep the original building as the sanctuary and add a new Sunday school and auditorium in a 1960s modern style with pointed arches to recall its Gothic neighbor.

    Church complex
    Oblique view of church
    From across the street

    Addendum: The architect of the 1929 building, and probably of the never-built church, was O. M. Topp. Source: The Charette, Vol. 7, No. 1 (January 1927): “173. Architect: O. M. Topp, Jenkins Arcade, Pittsburgh, Pa. Title: St. Mark’s Lutheran Church. Location: Brookline Boulevard and Glenarm Avenue. Preliminary stage. Approximate size: One story and basement. Stone exterior, ordinary construction. Cubage 200,000 feet.”

  • Rooftops of Brookline

    Father Pitt was trying out a very long lens after making an expedition to Pitaland. In the center of the picture is the tower of Engine House Fifty-Seven. It was about half a mile away.

  • Go Straight at the Intersection

    Or, you know, do your best. A typically Pittsburgh sign on Brookline Boulevard.

  • Brookline Methodist Episcopal Church

    Brookline Methodist Episcopal Church

    This church was finished in 1927 and continued to serve the Methodists until about a quarter-century ago. It now belongs to the Brookline Assembly, an Assemblies of God congregation. Old Pa Pitt has not been able to find out who the architect was, but there’s a wealth of other information at the wonderfully well-informed Brookline Connection site, including the interesting fact that the stone is Beaver County sandstone.

    Brookline Assembly