The soldier and the sailor who guard the entrance to Soldiers and Sailors Hall, by sculptor Frederick Hibbard. They were installed in 1923, one hundred years ago.
“Parade Rest” and “The Lookout”
America by Charles Keck
Charles Keck was a very successful sculptor who had a fruitful relationship with the architect Henry Hornbostel. He decorated the City-County Building, Pennsylvania Hall at Pitt, the Education Building in Albany, and the City Hall in that other Oakland, the one in California, all of them buildings by Hornbostel. He was a natural choice for this allegorical sculpture over the entrance to Soldiers and Sailors Hall, whose message seems to be that America is always ready, so don’t mess with her.
Note the large eyes. They may be inspired by late-antique sculpture, in which the eyes are usually disproportionately big. In a sculpture meant to be seen from a distance, the disproportion is not obvious at normal viewing range, but the large eyes give expression to the face that it would not have if they were natural size.
Lion’s Head, Shady Oak Apartments
A lion’s-head ornament on the Shady Oak Apartments on the border of Shadyside and Oakland.
Old King Edward and His Jesters
There are two apartment buildings called King Edward in Oakland (plus a small “annex” on Melwood Avenue). The more visible one, the King Edward Apartments on Craig Street at Bayard, was built in 1929. The original King Edward, built in 1914, is behind on Melwood Avenue at Bayard Street. It seems much more staid than its larger neighbor, until we look closer and discover that it is festooned with these grotesque faces.
Achille Giammartini House, Manchester
It looks like an ordinary Romanesque rowhouse, like hundreds of others in Pittsburgh. But as we approach it, we notice an unusually lush growth of grotesque foliage in the carved stone relief.
You can enlarge this picture to admire the many whimsical details. According to a local historian who left a comment here a decade ago, this was the home of Achille Giammartini, the uniquely talented stonecarver whose work can still be found all over the city, especially on the North Side. The comment is worth reproducing in full:
Much of the local stone carving as well as work across the North Side, downtown, Carnegie Mellon University, etc was done by Achille Giammartini who built the house at 1410 Page St, near Page St & Manhattan St, in Manchester (beside Allegheny West). Although this was his personal residence he used the exterior as a “billboard” for his considerable skills. —Mark
Some years later, we received a very interesting comment from G. Blair Bauer, a lineal descendant of the sculptor, in reply to the comment from Mark:
Thank you, Mark. He was my great grandfather and his daughter, my grandmother, told us little about him. I remember one Christmas we got delayed going to my grandmother’s for dinner in Allegheny West because they were tearing down all the old townhouses. My grandmother said that her father had carved a lot of the mantels for the living rooms. My mother was horrified and said she wished that she had known as she would have gotten a mantel for each of us 4 children. Grandma replied, “He worked with his hands; I want to forget about him.” Mother was so enraged we got up and left dinner on the table. I now have an address and will visit his house; hope there is a lot of his work visible.
Well, the front would certainly have left a good impression of his talents. A prospective client who visited Mr. Giammartini at home would get the impression that here was a remarkable artist, and the impression would be conveyed before the client even walked in the door. Even the address has a touch of Romanesque fantasy:
Romanesque Duplex in Manchester
A pair of Romanesque houses, mostly brick but with a splendid stone front. The decorations are extraordinarily fine, and Father Pitt suspects that they were by the extraordinary Achille Giammartini, who lived a few blocks away and was responsible for much of the ornamental stonecarving on the North Side.
Allegheny County Morgue
By a splendid exercise of bureaucratic irony, the old morgue now houses offices of the county health department. It was designed by Frederick Osterling and built—on Forbes Avenue—in 1901. In 1929, it was moved to its current location on Fourth Avenue.
Frederick Osterling’s Romanesque buildings nearly always give us a monster or two to admire.
Calvary Episcopal Church, Shadyside
Designed by Ralph Adams Cram, this church has a more austere sort of dignity than the architect’s other two works in Pittsburgh, East Liberty Presbyterian and Holy Rosary Catholic. It apparently took some delicate maneuvering to get an Episcopal congregation with low-church sympathies (but lots of money) to accept a Gothic masterpiece.
Unusually decorative downspouts.
Calvary Methodist Episcopal Church, Allegheny West
Now Calvary United Methodist Church, this church is known for its stained glass by the Tiffany Studios. It was built in 1892–1895; the architects were Vrydaugh & Shepherd and T. B. Wolfe. The exterior is a feast of elaborate and often playful Gothic detail.
The Noble Quartet—The Complete Group
John Massey Rhind, Andrew Carnegie’s favorite sculptor, decorated the Carnegie Institute building with bronzes representing the Noble Quartet—science, art, music, and literature—to which the Institute was dedicated. At street level, each member of the quartet is represented by a portrait of one of its famous representatives. Above each statue, on the roof, is an allegorical group of female figures representing the abstract ideal. We have seen the pictures of the statues before, but since old Pa Pitt just recently took pictures of the allegorical groups, he thought it might be interesting to see everything together at once.