Tag: 18th Century Houses

  • The Woods House Comes Back to Life

    John Woods House

    In 2015, we visited the John Woods House and found it boarded up, but with some hope for a brighter future: the Urban Redevelopment Authority had bought it and was offering it for sale to anyone who would restore it.

    Woods House in 2015

    Someone took up the offer, and the house is now beautifully restored and open as a pub called the Woods House.

    Woods House

    John Woods and his father Col. George Woods made the street plan for downtown Pittsburgh in 1784; the Colonel came up with the design, and John did the drafting work. The town had existed for nearly thirty years before it was organized into a proper grid of streets: Woods actually gave us two grids, doing his best to fit a rational eighteenth-century square plan into a triangle. The collision of the grids along Liberty Avenue has been a source of confusion and delightfully unusual building shapes ever since.

    Woods House

    In musical history, this is famous as the house where Stephen Foster loved to visit and bang away at the piano. Supposedly he wrote “Jeanie with the Light Brown Hair” and “Nellie Bly” here, the latter inspired by one of the Woods family’s servants.

    As the clouds drifted by low in the sky, old Pa Pitt decided this house might make a good moody black-and-white picture.

    Woods House
  • I-House in the West End

    House in the West End

    This well-preserved house from 1870 or 1876 (according to different sources) has kept its splendid Victorian ornamental woodwork. Architectural historians would call this an I-house, a standard variety of vernacular house very common in this part of Pennsylvania. Its form is very simple: two floors, each a central hall with a room on the left and a room on the right. Often, as on this house, more rooms are added on the back. For many years this house was used as the parsonage for the Methodist church next door.

  • Old Stone Tavern

    This ancient building in the West End ought to be one of our top preservation priorities, but it is a peculiarity of Pittsburgh’s preservation movement that often the oldest and most historic structures are ignored. There was a campaign to raise funds for its restoration, but the site has vanished from the Web.

    The most probable date for this old tavern is the 1780s, but there was a bit of a stir some years back when an old date stone was found from 1758, which would have made it older than the Fort Pitt Blockhouse. Old Pa Pitt has not seen the stone; the consensus seems to be that it was misread, but there are still locals who argue for the earlier date.