Category: Manchester

  • Early-20th-Century Rowhouses, Manchester

    Abdell Street rowhouses

    An attractive row of small houses built a little before 1910. One of them has had a fire and is under sentence of condemnation; we hope it can be rescued, but it may not be worth enough to restore. It is only yards from Allegheny West, a very desirable neighborhood; but that neighborhood line is there, and these houses are technically in Manchester.

    From the back we can see how a good bit of thought was put into making these houses bright and airy while still using the small space efficiently.

    Rear of the houses
  • Milliken Row, Manchester

    Milliken row, Manchester

    The tall houses here probably date from the Civil War era, and they were probably built to be rental properties; they appear on our 1872 map as belonging to A. Milliken. Originally there were three pairs of houses and one single on the corner, all matching; one of the pairs has disappeared and been replaced by smaller modern rowhouses. The newer houses do a good job of matching the style of the neighborhood, but they would have done better if they had been built at the same setback from the street. As for the height, it is probably useless to quibble about that. It is old Pa Pitt’s impression that builders of any given era are very dogmatic about the proper height for a ceiling. Look at the third floor of the house on the corner, and compare it to the third floor of the house next to it: you will see at once that modern ceilings are much lower than ceilings from the 1860s, and that is simply the way it is and nothing can be done about it.

    This street is now North Avenue, but when these houses were built it was Fayette Avenue; it did not connect to North Avenue until the later twentieth century.

  • Trinity Methodist Protestant Church, Manchester

    A block away from the magnificent Calvary Methodist Church was another Methodist church, almost as magnificent—but Methodist Protestant, whereas Calvary was Methodist Episcopal. Calvary is exuberantly Gothic; this is a heavier Romanesque style. For some reason it has never made anyone’s landmarks list, but in Father Pitt’s opinion it deserves recognition and preservation as a fine example of the Richardsonian Romanesque style.

    The building later became home to the Carter Chapel C.M.E. Church, a historic Black congregation that had previously been on the Hill in the former Congregation Kaiser Torah synagogue.

    Now it is abandoned, and under sentence of condemnation since it started shedding bits of stone. According to a passing neighbor who struck up a conversation with the man with the camera, it was bought for $300,000 some time ago, but the owner seems not to have been able to do anything with it. It is just on the edge of Allegheny West, a very desirable neighborhood, but neighborhood boundaries are everything in real estate, and this church is technically in Manchester.

    Since the building may vanish soon, old Pa Pitt spent some time documenting the exterior. To avoid weighing down the front page for the next week and a half, the rest of the pictures are below the metaphorical fold.

  • Regina Coeli Church and School, Manchester

    Regina Coeli church and school, Manchester

    Now the New Zion Baptist Church in what may be Pittsburgh’s only clot of three different Baptist churches in the same spot, this former Italian parish church is a good example of the modernist interpretation of Gothic that was popular briefly after the Second World War. The fine reliefs are in a style that filters medieval religious art through a slightly Art Deco lens.

    Regina Coeli
    Regina Coeli

    There seems to have been an inscription over the skull and crossbones (representing conquered Death), but it is no longer legible.

    School relief

    Sinite parvulos, et nolite eos prohibere ad me venire: talium est enim regnum caelorum. (Matt. 19:14.)

    Regina Coeli Church and School
  • Beth-Eden Baptist Church, Manchester

    Beth-Eden Baptist Church

    On the end of Juniata Street, where it meets Chateau Street, is a cluster of three Baptist churches all huddled together. Two of them originally belonged to other denominations, but this one has been Baptist all its life. Originally the Beth-Eden Baptist Church, it is now called Pilgrim Baptist Church. The building was put up in 1903, when weighty Romanesque was still a popular style in Allegheny and Pittsburgh. The massive tower and the rounded end make a strong impression.

    Tower again
    From Juniata Street
  • St. Joseph’s Church, Manchester

    Originally a German Catholic church. The building has long been abandoned by its former Catholic congregation (which merged with St. Peter’s), and now bears a sign for Deliverance Center Original Church of God. It could use some work, but the basic structure looks sound.

    Old Pa Pitt took this composite picture back in April and then forgot about it. Here it is now. It’s quite large, so don’t click on the picture if you’re on a metered connection.

  • Union Methodist Church, Manchester

    Now the New Zion Baptist Church. Here is another of those city churches where the most use is made of a tiny lot by putting the sanctuary on the upper level. This church was built in 1867, just two years before the South Side Presbyterian Church; and without finding any historical pictures, old Pa Pitt would hazard a guess that the South Side Presbyterian Church looked rather like this before the grand front with tower was erected in 1893.

    This picture was made from multiple photographs taken in fading evening light, so it is not perfect; but Father Pitt wanted to show you another example of these upstairs city churches.

  • West End Bridge


    The graceful arch of the West End Bridge, as seen from the union Dale Cemetery. Below, with Manchester in the foreground.


  • Liverpool Street with an Argus C3

    The mighty Argus C3 is the most legendary of all 35-mm rangefinders. Its standard lens was indifferent, it was heavy as all get out, it was needlessly complex—but it sold for three decades and made 35-mm film the standard in still photography.

    Here are some pictures of the Victorian rowhouses in Manchester taken with one of old Pa Pitt’s C3s and the standard 50-mm Cintar lens.

    And here is the beast itself, affectionately known as the “Brick,” for reasons that probably don’t need much explaining. It also weighs about as much as a brick of comparable size. This camera has starred in more movies than Cary Grant, always playing the “professional” camera. It was the magazine photographer’s camera in The Philadelphia Story; it was the magical reporter’s camera in the Harry Potter series.

    Now let us enumerate the many virtues of the C3. First, it looks really technical, which was a big selling point. It was much cheaper than the better European cameras of the same era, but it had all those gears and dials on the front, which made it look quite expensive and impressive. Its mechanism is simple and well-designed: if you pick up a C3 that hasn’t been used in forty years, there’s a better than even chance that it still works. The lens is interchangeable (by a process that would try the patience of Job, if Job had been a photographer), and fairly good German wide-angle and telephoto lenses were offered. It’s built like a tank; if you drop it, you’ll probably just pick it up, shrug, and go on shooting.

    To take a picture, you first set the shutter speed on the shutter-speed dial, then the aperture on the lens. Then you look through the rangefinder window and find the distance, which—amazingly—also focuses the lens by means of the coupling gear on the front. (An astounding piece of automation!) Then you move your eye to the viewfinder and compose the picture. Then you cock the shutter with the lever on the front. Then you push the shutter button and take the picture. Then you push the film release to the side and wind the film to the next frame. All this does not quite happen in the blink of an eye, but you can get pretty good at it after some practice.

  • Liverpool Street, Manchester

    This extraordinary row of identical Second Empire houses is one of Pittsburgh’s architectural prizes, and the neighborhood itself is an interesting case study in preservation. Although it lost its business district to a horribly misconceived urban-renewal project that replaced urban shops with suburban ranch houses, Manchester has kept most of its opulent Victorian rowhouses, many of which were restored with money provided by billionaire news magnate Richard Mellon Scaife. The restoration was accomplished without displacing the lower-income residents of the neighborhood, so Manchester is one of the few historic districts in the country that have been restored without being yuppified.

    The picture was taken with a Kiev-4A camera.