Category: Homewood

  • Row of Houses by Carpenter & Crocker, Homewood

    This picture was taken a year and a half ago, but it seems it got lost in the press of events, and Father Pitt never published it here. He went looking for it because he had just found the architects: research by the grandson of William Carpenter indicates that these houses on Kelly Street at Collier Street were designed by Carpenter & Crocker in about 1901. They were originally part of a larger group of 24 dwellings, but two other rows—one on Collier Street, the cross street, and one on the alley behind, Fleury Way—have vanished. The building on the corner was probably part of the original row; at any rate, it was in place by 1910, when a fire-insurance map shows a three-storey building here at the end of a row of two-storey buildings. It looks to old Pa Pitt like a hotel in the Pittsburgh sense: that is, a bar with rooms above to make it eligible for a “hotel” liquor license.

    Two years later, Carpenter & Crocker would design St. James Episcopal Church, now the Church of the Holy Cross, just across Collier Street from these houses. Was the developer a member of the St. James congregation?

  • Homewood United Presbyterian Church

    Homewood United Presbyterian Church

    Most recently the Homewood Church of God, this building seems to be vacant right now; and although Homewood is prospering more than it has done in decades, it is not likely that this church can be saved. It was built in 1905, and renovated enough in 1961 to merit a new cornerstone.

    Window over the entrance
    Idlewood Street side
    Homewood Avenue side
  • Double Duplexes by Charles Bier, Homewood

    Double duplex in Homewood

    Charles W. Bier was a fairly successful Pittsburgh architect, especially busy with medium-sized churches, who flirted with Art Nouveau in the days before the First World War, but retreated into a more traditional style in the 1920s (see, for example, his 1923 Mount Lebanon Methodist Episcopal Church). Here we find him at his most radically modern in a line of three identical double duplexes, built in about 1915 or 1916.1

    The whole row from the left
    Entrance arches

    These broad entrance arches with strong vertical lines show up on Mr. Bier’s churches of the period as well.

    Rectangular ornament

    The geometrical brickwork ornaments remind us of the decorations in German art and architecture magazines of the period, and they may be where our architect got his ideas. (According to Martin Aurand, Frederick Scheibler took much inspiration from those German magazines, so they were available here.)

    Right-hand double duplex

    The building at the right end of the row seems to be stuck in the middle of a refurbishing project, with new windows installed and new wood framing inside. We hope the work can continue, because these three striking buildings really are unusual in Pittsburgh and ought to be preserved.

    View along the fronts of the buildings
    The whole row from the right
    1. Source: The Construction Record, September 11, 1915: “Bids are in for the erection of three two-story brick veneered and hollow tile double duplex residences, on Murtland avenue and Idlewild street, for Mrs. W . J. Burkhard, Mrs. Josephine Friday and Mrs. Mary A. Saupp, Blackadore Avenue Extension. Cost $45,000. Plans by Architect Crarles [sic] Bier, Pittsburgh Life building.” ↩︎
  • Westinghouse High School, Homewood

    The truth is mighty and will prevail

    Possibly more famous people, and especially musicians, have gone to Westinghouse than to any other high school in Pittsburgh. We might compare it to the famous Austin High in Chicago for the number of great jazz lights who came out of it—and arguably the ones from Westinghouse have been more influential. So far only Billy Strayhorn has a historical marker outside the school, but there’s room for a forest of markers, or—since this is an Ingham & Boyd school—an orderly orchard of markers.

    Westinghouse High School

    Ingham & Boyd designed the building in their usual severely classical and ruthlessly symmetrical style. When you walk in these doors, you know you are entering something important, and even the Bulldog banners cannot diminish the formality of it.

    The truth the whole truth and nothing but the truth

    The two mottoes inscribed on the front of the school fit perfectly with the architecture. Mottoes and style convey the same message: there is one standard of absolute truth, and you will enter into the truth here.

    Westinghouse High School
  • Homewood People’s Bank

    Homewood People’s Bank

    Here is another small bank that gets the architectural message exactly right, as we said a few days ago about the Carnegie National Bank. How could your money not be safe in a bank that looks like this? Imagine, too, how bright and cheerful the banking hall must have been before those tall windows along the side were filled in.


    Winged chimeras guard the cartouche at the top of the great front arch.

    Homewood People’s Bank

    Addendum: The bank was built in about 1924; the architects were Simons, Britton & English.1

    1. Source: The American Contractor, October 20, 1923: “Bank Bldg.: $80,000. 1 sty. 618 Homewood av. Archt. Simons, Britton & English, Magee bldg. Owner The Homewood People [sic] Bank, W. B. McFall, 618 Homewood av. Brk. & stone. Finishing revised plans & specs.” ↩︎
  • Holy Rosary Convent, Homewood

    Holy Rosary Convent

    Like the rectory behind it, this is a simple and dignified Renaissance palace that sets off the flamboyant Gothic of Holy Rosary Church.

  • Church of the Holy Cross, Homewood

    Church of the Holy Cross

    In many neighborhoods this would be the most distinguished building, but of course Homewood has Holy Rosary Church. Nevertheless, this is an important building in its own right. It was built in 1904 as St. James Episcopal Church, but in 1953 it was bought by a Black Episcopalian congregation, which obviously showers love on this building. It was designed by Carpenter & Crocker, and the grandson of William James Carpenter gives us the story of the church on a site dedicated to his grandfather’s work. You can also read the story of the congregation from the church’s own site (the link goes to a page where you can download a PDF file).

    Church of the Holy Cross
  • Carnegie Library, Homewood

    Carnegie Library Homewood

    This is the neighborhood library every neighborhood dreams of. It was designed by Alden & Harlow (according to Wikipedia, Howard K. Jones, who worked for the firm, may have been principally responsible for this library), and it is the most palatial of their branch libraries in the city. Most of the others are classical, but this is institutional Gothic. Restored to its original splendor, it is kept immaculately beautiful, and it seems to be busy. Old Pa Pitt promised the librarian he would not capture any patrons in the interior shots—which necessitated some patience, because people would keep walking in front of the woodwork.


    The rear windows look out on the side of Holy Rosary Church.

    Children’s room
    War memorial

    A stunningly beautiful Great War memorial for the neighborhood is divided in two halves flanking the entrance.

    War memorial

    An ornament at the peak of the Hamilton Avenue façade.

  • Rectory of Holy Rosary Church, Homewood

    Rectory, Holy Rosary

    After the flamboyant Gothic of Holy Rosary, this stately Renaissance palace is quite a contrast.

  • Holy Rosary Church, Homewood

    Holy Rosary Church

    Ralph Adams Cram was probably the greatest Gothic architect our country ever produced. There are three churches by Cram in Pittsburgh (and one in Greensburg), and each is a masterpiece in its way. East Liberty Presbyterian is overwhelmingly impressive. Calvary Episcopal is restrained and tasteful, a good fit for its low-church Episcopalian congregation. But Holy Rosary seems to be a product of the artist’s pure delight in his medium. It was finished in 1930, when Cram was at the peak of his creative powers.

    Towers and pinnacles

    The church is still in good shape, but it is no longer a worship site, and what can be done with a building this size? The offices of St. Charles Lwanga parish are here, but it is only a matter of time before someone decides that it would be more efficient to have an office building that is less expensive to maintain. Homewood is prospering much more than it was a few years ago, but it has a long way to go before it becomes a rich enough neighborhood to make it worth adapting this building; and any congregation looking for a church would have to have a high budget to maintain this one. (St. Charles Lwanga parish worships a few blocks away in the small and undistinguished, but much easier to maintain, Mother of Good Counsel church.)

    We hope Holy Rosary will be preserved and restored, but it competes with many other churches and synagogues worthy of preservation and restoration. It is hard to find uses for a building so perfectly adapted to one specific purpose for which it is no longer wanted.

    Rose window
    Angel with monogram

    All the niches have lost their statues, which suggests that the parish took them down and reinstalled them elsewhere. Do any St. Charles Lwanga parishioners know the story? (Addendum: See the comment from Theresa Moore below; she tells us that statues were never installed.)

    Kelly Street side