Category: Shadyside

  • A Stroll on Pembroke Place, Shadyside

    Pembroke Place

    Pembroke Place is a street of unusually fine houses in the very rich part of Shadyside. We have already seen the Acheson House; here is a generous album of other houses on the street.

    5122 Pembroke Place
  • Acheson House, Shadyside

    Acheson House

    An elegant Tudor or Jacobean mansion designed by MacClure & Spahr and built in 1903, as the dormer tells us. This Post-Gazette story (reprinted in a Greenville, North Carolina, paper that does not keep it behind a paywall) tells us that a 1925 addition was designed by Benno Janssen, who had worked in the MacClure & Spahr office and may have had some responsibility for the original design. The article also tells us how vandals masquerading as interior designers rampaged through the house and painted all the interior woodwork white or pale grey to “banish dark wood,” but at least the exterior is in good shape.

    Dormer with the date 1903
    Perspective view of the house
    Side of the house

    Cameras: Nikon COOLPIX P100; Kodak EasyShare Z1285.

  • The Lionhead, Shadyside

    Lion’s head

    Originally the Kent and the Howe, this pair of attached buildings was renamed for its most prominent decorative feature—the lion’s heads that preside over each entrance. The architects were the Chicago firm of Perry & Thomas, who were responsible for a number of apartment buildings in Shadyside and Oakland; they were especial favorites of the developer John McSorley.

    The Lionhead
    Nikon COOLPIX P100.
  • The Chesapeake and the Chamberlin, Shadyside

    The Chesapeake and the Chamberlin

    A pair of identical apartment buildings, now known by their addresses (5758 Howe and 5754 Howe). They were built in 1908; the architect was C. J. Rieger. Though they have lost their cornices (which, to judge by the size of the scars, must have been elaborate), the rest of the details are well preserved, showing a Renaissance or Baroque style flavored with Art Nouveau.

    Entrance, closer
    Lion’s head
    Female cameo
    Male cameo
    Chesapeake and Chamberlin
    Nikon COOLPIX P100.
  • Louis Brown House, Shadyside

    Louis Brown house
    Kodak EasyShare Z1285.

    Edward Weber was best known for his school designs—notably Central Catholic High School and St. Mark’s School in the McKees Rocks Bottoms. The sense of fairy-tale whimsy he showed in those designs was on full display in this house, which Weber designed for Louis Brown in 1913. It shows the same Jugendstil influence that we identified in the Lilian Henius house in Highland Park, which was designed by our noted early modernists Kiehnel & Elliott; this one is on a grander scale, but if we did not know the architect we would be forgiven for speculating that the two houses were drawn with the same pencil.

    Louis Brown house
    Nikon COOLPIX P100.
    704 Amberson Avenue
    Louis Brown house
  • St. James Street, Shadyside

    617 St. James Street

    We should have put a utility-cable trigger warning at the top of this article, but too late now. The block of St. James Street between Ellsworth Avenue and Pembroke Place is lined with fine houses in an interesting variety of styles, and here are some of them.

    617 St. James Street
    709 St. James Street
    711 St. James Street
    711 St. James Street
    713 St. James Street
    726 St. James Street
    716 St. James Street
    712 St. James Street
    712 St. James Street
    700 St. James Street
    Chimney pots

    It is well known that old Pa Pitt loves good chimney pots, and these are just right for this house.

    616 St. James Street
  • St. James Terrace, Shadyside

    St. James Terrace plaque

    The Pittsburgh History and Landmarks Foundation historic marker at the entrance tells us all Father Pitt knows about St. James Terrace: that it was built in 1915, and that the builder was John E. Born. Perhaps we will discover the architect one of these days.

    St. James Terrace is an enclave within an enclave: it branches off the narrow dead-end St. James Place, but with no access for vehicles. Instead, the houses are arranged around a narrow but beautiful garden court, which looks very romantic in the snow.

    St. James Terrace
    St. James Terrace
    Houses on the north side
    Bare tree branch
    St. James Terrace
  • The Georgian, Shadyside

    The Georgian

    Many of the apartment buildings in the East End sold a kind of architectural fantasy to prospective residents. The Georgian went the obvious step further and named itself after its own architectural style. It adapts Georgian elements with some success to the configuration of a large city apartment house, arranged around a pleasant garden court. The needs of the automobile, however, mean that the dominant impression as we read the name of the building in front is of a blank metal door. Father Pitt decided to crop out the garage door for the picture of the court below.

    The Georgian
  • Colonial Place

    Mansion at Colonial Place

    Colonial Place is one of those tiny enclaves all built at once in which Shadyside abounds. This one was built in 1898, and it is unique in that the entrance is flanked by two grand mansions.


    George S. Orth was the architect of almost all the houses in Colonial Place. (See if you can guess which house old Pa Pitt thinks was not part of the original plan.) Mr. Orth had a prosperous career designing mansions for the wealthy, as well as some large institutions like the School for Blind Children. But he seems to have been forgotten faster than most Pittsburgh architects. He died in 1918; ten years later, when the architect George Schwan died at 55, his obituary in the Charette had to remind readers who Orth was: “He [Schwan] was trained in the office of George S. Orth, old time architect of Pittsburgh…” That is all the more remarkable because the Charette was the magazine of the Pittsburgh Architectural Club, of all groups the one that would be most likely to remember George S. Orth.

    At any rate, Colonial Place is still a remarkably pleasant little street. The landscaping was done by E. H. Bachman, and the sycamores he planted still shade the street in summer and make a striking avenue in the winter with their stark white branches and trunks.

    Colonial Place
    House, front view
    House, perspective view
    Ranch house
    House with green shingles
    House with white shingles
    House with maroon shingles

    This mansion is currently the residence of the Greek Orthodox Metropolitan of Pittsburgh.

    Terra cotta

    This one is currently for sale, and you can tour the interior on Google Street View (push the “Browse Street View images” standing-figure button to reveal little blue dots all over the house).

    Side entrance
    Ionic capital
  • The Belvedere

    The Belvedere

    Originally called the Alpine, this Renaissance-bordering-on-modern apartment building was put up in 1909 by developer John McSorley. Research by a local expert in all things McSorley shows that the architects were Perry & Thomas from Chicago, who designed many apartment buildings in Shadyside and Squirrel Hill. The rounded corner seems to have been a favorite device of theirs for a while: two other Perry & Thomas buildings on Ellsworth Avenue also have prominent rounded corners.