Category: Squirrel Hill

  • Eclectic House on Aylesboro Avenue, Squirrel Hill

    A little bit Georgian with a hint of Gothic, this house is oddly eclectic in its details but harmonizes them well.

  • House on Northumberland Street, Squirrel Hill

    House on Northumberland Street

    Something like a Pittsburgh foursquare stretched into a Renaissance palace, this house prefers simple dignity to ostentatious ornament.

    Oblique view
  • Another Renaissance Palace in Squirrel Hill

    Gilding the capitals of your Ionic porch columns is a subtle way to tell the world, “I have more money than I know what to do with.” Note the half-round extrusion in the shadows on the right-hand side.

  • Johnston House, Squirrel Hill

    Johnston house

    Probably built in the 1890s, this grand house on Wightman Street has its very Victorian trim picked out in cheerful colors. Note the thoroughness of the decoration: even the dormers are given little pilasters with Ionic capitals.

    Dormer
    Left dormer
    Oblique view
  • Born Building, Squirrel Hill

    Born Building

    This Art Deco block of small storefronts and offices on Murray Avenue is in a prosperous district, but the concrete details are decaying, and many have disappeared. The optometrist at the left end, the central entrance to the upstairs offices, and the tailor shop right of center preserve what was probably the decorative pattern of all the storefronts when this building was put up.

    Decoration
    Concrete ornament

    This is meant to be the central ornamental focus of the building, but it has been shedding bits and pieces.

    Born Building
  • Renaissance Palace in Squirrel Hill

    House on Aylesboro Avenue

    Pittsburgh has many Millionaires’ Rows, and one of them is along Aylesboro Avenue in Squirrel Hill. This house is typical of the rectangular Renaissance-palace style that was popular for large houses in the early 1900s.

    Renaissance palace
  • Round Bank in Squirrel Hill

    Round bank on Murray Avenue

    From the “form follows function” era of the middle twentieth century comes this round bank. Round is probably the most impractical and anti-functional shape you could come up with for a bank, but modernism sacrificed function for a striking effect much more often than Victorian classicism did. This was built in 1965 for Mellon Bank. It now belongs to Citizens Bank, which bought Mellon’s retail branches when Mellon merged with Bank of New York and decided not to deal with grubby working-class people anymore.

  • Warwick House, Squirrel Hill

    Stairwell window

    Warwick House was built in 1910 for Howard Heinz, son of the ketchup king H. J. Heinz. The architects were Vrydaugh and Wolfe, and the construction budget was $75,000. After the Heinzes it passed through the Hillmans, and now it belongs to the Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh, from which it is rented by Opus Dei, the Catholic organization famed for its albino assassins. But the organization seldom sends the assassins out against anyone but renowned curators; the rest of us are quite safe. At an open house this summer, old Pa Pitt was graciously allowed to take a few pictures of the beautifully maintained Jacobean interior. Above, the window in the grand staircase.

    Front of the house

    This picture of the front is not the best; the light was from the wrong direction. It means we will have to return soon at a different time of day.

    Front door

    The front door.

    Front hall

    The front hall; the door to the library is on the right, the grand staircase on the left.

    Decorative woodwork

    A little bit of the decorative woodwork in the front hall.

    Grand staircase

    The grand staircase.

    Ceiling

    Modern American houses forget about the ceiling, as if people never looked up. Warwick House does not make that mistake. This is the decorated ceiling in a side hall.

    Chapel
    Chapel

    The former ballroom was converted into a chapel by the late Henry Menzies, an ecclesiastical architect whose specialty was refurbishing modernist churches of the 1960s and 1970s to make them suitable for liturgical worship. He liked to use a baldacchino to give proper emphasis to the altar. (The ballroom was added to the house later, probably in 1929 according to the current residents.)

    Ceiling of the ballroom

    The ceiling of the ballroom.

  • Colonel Alexander Leroy Hawkins Memorial

    Colonel Alexander Leroy Hawkins memorial

    Col. Hawkins was a state senator as well as a much-respected officer in the Spanish-American War, which America fought to free the Spanish colonies, and the ensuing Philippine insurrection, which America fought to keep her newly acquired colony. He died in 1899; this memorial was put up in 1904. Originally the base extended in an embracing curve, as we see in this old photograph from Historic Pittsburgh; the extensions were probably cut off when the approaches were built for the Panther Hollow Bridge.

    Memorial as built
    Statue of Col. Hawkins
    Inscription

    In an earlier version of this article, Father Pitt had negligently typed “1894” instead of “1904” as the date of this memorial. It is harder than one thinks to cross the gap between centuries.

  • Mellon Park Gatehouse

    Mellon Park Gatehouse

    With a redbud tree.