Category: Mount Lebanon

  • Craftsman-Modernist Apartment Building, Mount Lebanon

    Apartment building on Academy Avenue

    Well, this one didn’t quite work.

    Old Pa Pitt has mentioned how he enjoys seeing the experiments builders try with small apartment buildings. Here we see a builder who seems to have absorbed some of the ideas of modernism and added some Craftsman-style details: the three-over-one windows, the decorative brickwork, the wood-framed entrance. But the details seem applied at random, and a modernist architect would have been more regular in the geometry. Note the lack of rhythm or alignment in the windows, which throws off the whole façade. The second and third floors have windows in groups of 2, 1, 3, 2; the first floor has groups of 2, 1, 2, 1, and they do not line up at all with the windows above them. The entrance does not line up vertically or horizontally with anything else in the building; its awkward corner placement seems to leave some of the trim hanging off the edge.

    Someone will probably come along and tell Father Pitt that this building is by a famous modernist architect, and old Pa Pitt will only say that the architect was having a bad day.

  • Georgian Meets Spanish Mission

    Apartment building on Academy Avenue

    You have probably never heard anyone say this before, but Father Pitt is fascinated by small apartment buildings. Larger apartment blocks are often designed by famous architects, and they may be masterpieces of their kind. But small apartment buildings sometimes preserve the adventurous whimsies of a builder who was not technically an architect but could draw a blueprint all by himself.

    Here is a good example. The third floor of this little apartment building in Mount Lebanon is typical of the Spanish Mission style that was very popular in the near South Hills in the first half of the twentieth century. But below that the details are Georgian. It would be hard to imagine a stranger clash than those two styles—and yet they work well together. Pedestrians walking by never say, “Now there is an outrageously mixed metaphor of a building.” A big-deal architect would probably never do it, but it works.

  • Southminster Presbyterian Church, Mount Lebanon

    Southminster Presbyterian Church

    This tasteful Gothic church, finished in 1928, anchors the south end of the Uptown Mount Lebanon business district. The architect was Thomas Pringle, who also gave us the Salvation Army Building downtown.

    West entrance
  • The Berkshire, Mount Lebanon

    The Berkshire

    A typical courtyard apartment building in a corner of Mount Lebanon that is full of small to medium-sized apartment buildings. This one is in a simple but attractive Jacobean style, where a few effective details carry all the thematic weight.

    Lamppost
  • Mount Lebanon United Methodist Church

    Mount Lebanon United Methodist Church

    One of three fine Gothic churches in a row, this one is actually in Dormont—but not by much. The Mount Lebanon border runs down Scott Road to the right of the building, then jogs behind the building to take in the St. Clair Cemetery.

    Addendum: The church was built in 1923 or after; the architect was Charles W. Bier. Source: The American Contractor, October 13, 1923: “Church: Approx. $150,000. 2 sty. & bas. 100×100. W. Liberty av., Mt. Lebanon. Archt. C. Bier, Pittsburgh Life bldg., Pittsburgh, Pa. Owner Mt. Lebanon M. E. Congr., G. W. Beams, 1225 Peermont, Dormont, Pa. Stone. Gen. contr. let to H. Busse Co., Main & Wabash av., Pittsburgh, Pa. Plmg. to Reynold Gusse, 130 Wabash av., Pittsburgh. Rfg. to Crafton Rfg. & Furnace Co., 7 Crafton av., Crafton, Pa.”

  • Mount Lebanon Evangelical Presbyterian Church

    Mount Lebanon Evangelical Presbyterian Church

    Patterned after York Minster, this English Gothic church sits on the peak of the ridge, so that its outsized towers are visible for miles.

  • Looking North on Washington Road, Mount Lebanon

    Mount Lebanon is what old Pa Pitt calls an urban suburb. It is outside the limits of the city of Pittsburgh, but otherwise the core of it is a city neighborhood, with an urban business district. (An urban business district, in Father Pitt’s definition, is one in which the businesses line up abutting the sidewalk, with no parking lots in front of them.) “Uptown” Mount Lebanon is a pleasant place for a stroll, with many restaurants and specialty shops to lure you off the sidewalk. And as we can see in this picture, it is actually one of the broadest urban business districts in the entire metropolitan area. In Washington, D.C., this would be merely average, but Pittsburgh has very few spaces that can accommodate a commercial street this wide.

  • Art Deco Buildings on Washington Road, Mount Lebanon

    Uptown Mount Lebanon has one of the best collections of Art Deco architecture in the area. These two buildings sit side by side on Washington Road at the corner of Alfred Street. With some confidence, old Pa Pitt identifies the Gothic fantasy on the right as an old movie theater, although he would be happy to be corrected.

    Update: Father Pitt is corrected. The building on the right was the William Hall office and apartment building, designed in 1929 by Geisler & Smithyman. The one on the left was the Medical Arts Building, as we can guess from the splendid terra-cotta panels.

  • Fountain at Clearview Common, Mount Lebanon

    Clearview Common is a little parklet at the corner of Washington Road and Alfred Street in the middle of the Uptown Mount Lebanon business district. It makes an urban oasis out of a vacant lot, and this fountain is one of its distinctive features.

    Pittsburgh natives are probably not aware that, to outsiders, one of the most surprising things about the city and its inner suburbs is the ubiquity of shoe-repair shops.

  • Mount Lebanon Station

    A southbound Red Line car leaves the Mount Lebanon subway station, as seen from the Alfred Street crossing.