Western Theological Seminary, Allegheny West

Western Theological Seminary, Allegheny West

Originally the Western Theological Seminary (a Presbyterian seminary), this building was designed by Thomas Hannah and finished in 1912. The seminary stayed here until 1959, when it merged with the other big Presbyterian seminary in town and became part of the Pittsburgh Theological Seminary in Highland Park.

Like most of the other large buildings on Ridge Avenue, this one now belongs to the Community College of Allegheny County, which calls it West Hall.

Top of the tower

William Penn Snyder House, Allegheny West

William Penn Snyder house

Considering the traditional link between Pittsburgh and New York—the two cities shared millionaires, department stores, and many other cultural phenomena—it’s surprising that this is Pittsburgh’s only New-York-style brownstone palace. The architect was George S. Orth, who was also responsible for the Colonial Place development in Shadyside. The house was built in 1911, shortly before the millionaires began to flee the neighborhood. Since then it has been an office building, and the commercial addition to the right is a good example of how to expand a historic building sensitively without throwing money around like a Pittsburgh millionaire.

Witch Hazel

Ozark witch hazel (Hamamelis vernalis) is one of old Pa Pitt’s favorite plantings. It blooms in the dead of winter; it keeps its petals closed until a warmer day comes along, and then it unfurls its little red flowers and floods its surroundings with perfume. But if you bring in a few twigs and put them in a vase, you don’t have to wait for a warm day. The flowers will unfurl within hours, and then in a day or two the perfume will start filling your house. You can have a fresh bouquet from the garden in the middle of January.

The twiggy bouquets make an interesting display, and for some reason it occurred to Father Pitt that he should attempt to photograph one in the manner of the 1930s.

Willock House, Allegheny West

Willock house

Here is another one-room-wide mansion crammed into a tiny lot. William Willock, a clerk, married Alice Jones, the daughter of steel baron B. F. Jones. For his daughter and her new husband, B. F. built this nice little French chateau huddled next to his own considerably larger house. Of course, when you marry the big chief’s daughter and live in a little chateau right up against his house, the big chief has an opportunity to notice your talent and ability. Mr. Willock ended up with a snug little berth in the Jones & Laughlin empire as the manager of the Monongahela Connecting Railroad.

The house was built in about 1892. In 1898, the stable behind it was added—itself a bigger building than many of the houses in Allegheny West.

Like many grand houses in the neighborhood, this house has a very detailed history published at the Allegheny West neighborhood site.

When old Pa Pitt visited, the house was still gaily festooned with Christmas decorations.

B. F. Jones House, Allegheny West

B. F. Jones House

Benjamin Franklin Jones, Jr., was the Jones of Jones & Laughlin, the steel conglomerate. This 42-room Jacobean mansion was designed by Rutan & Russell. Like most of the ultragazillionaires’ mansions in Allegheny West, it now belongs to the Community College of Allegheny County.