Category: Shadyside

  • Old Stable, Shadyside

    With the limited research he was willing to put into it, old Pa Pitt was not able to confirm his impression that this building on Elmer Street was once a stable. But it certainly has the look of a stable. Well into the early twentieth century, the city was full of stables where the thousands of draft horses that pulled every kind of conveyance were kept.

  • Victorian House in Shadyside

    A nicely restored Victorian house in the back streets of Shadyside. The front porch seems to have been foreshortened to accommodate a basement garage, but the work was tastefully done.

  • A Polychrome Balcony

    Colorful paint adds a bit of whimsy to a small apartment building in Shadyside.

  • Sunnyledge

    Built for a prosperous doctor, this house was designed by Longfellow and Harlow (soon to be Longfellow, Alden, and Harlow), and shows the restrained good taste that would be the hallmark of the firm’s work for decades. Although it is technically on the Squirrel Hill side of the street, socially this house forms part of the Shadyside millionaires’ row along Fifth Avenue.

  • The Admiral Apartments, Shadyside

    A simple modernist brick box is given an Art Deco flair by distinctively patterned brickwork.

  • Negley-Gwinner-Harter House, Shadyside

    This Second Empire mansion had a narrow escape: the third floor burned out in 1987, and the owner died the next year, leaving the house a derelict hulk. It was rescued from demolition at the last minute by serial restorationist Joedda Sampson, who painted it in her trademark polychrome style; it has since passed to other owners, whose pristine white also works well with the design. The house was built in 1871; Frederick Osterling worked on early-twentieth-century renovations and additions.

  • Art Nouveau Apartment Building in Shadyside

    This would be a fairly ordinary building, in what we might perhaps call Renaissance style, except for its curious Art Nouveau ornamentation.

  • Third Presbyterian Church, Shadyside

    The “chocolate church” at Fifth and Negley was designed by Theophilus P. Chandler Jr., whose name always sounds to old Pa Pitt like the villain in a Marx Brothers farce. Chandler worked mostly in Philadelphia, but he also designed First Presbyterian downtown and the Duncan mausoleum in the Union Dale Cemetery.

  • Willis McCook Mansion, Shadyside

    You can make good money as a lawyer if you make the right contacts. Willis McCook was lawyer to the robber barons, and he lived among them in this splendid Gothic mansion on the Fifth Avenue millionaires’ row. The architects were the local firm of Carpenter & Crocker. It is now a hotel called the “Mansions on Fifth,” along with the house around the corner that McCook built for his daughter and son-in-law.

  • The Wooden Street in Shadyside

    Pittsburghers are used to bricks and Belgian blocks, and most people who walk on Ellsworth Avenue past the entrance to this absurdly narrow little street probably never notice that these blocks are made of wood.

    Wood-block pavements were very common in the 1800s. The “Nicolson pavement”—a pavement of wood blocks soaked in creosote—had some advantages over stone: cobblestones were horribly uneven, and Belgian block is expensive and hard on horses’ feet. Wooden pavement does not stand up well to heavy vehicular traffic, however, and almost all the Nicolson pavements are gone. There is one in Philadelphia, one in Cleveland, a badly decayed one in St. Louis, and three in Chicago, according to the Wikipedia article. But Roslyn Place is the only remaining street in America paved from beginning to end with wood blocks—although, to be fair, the beginning and the end are not very far apart. Here, in a quiet dead-end court, the traffic is light, and the blocks last for decades before they have to be replaced. Since the street is a historic district, we can be fairly confident that they will always be replaced with wooden blocks, as they have been in the past.