Tag: Abandoned

  • Columbus Avenue, Manchester

    1305 and 1307 Columbus Avenue, Manchester

    The far end of Manchester still has some work to do. A few houses have been restored; about an equal number are abandoned and condemned. A few have been restored, and then abandoned and condemned. A few have been renovated in a way that seems regrettable. We can only hope that someone will rescue the houses that need rescuing.

    Front door
    Window decoration

    It is always especially sad when we see that the last thing residents were able to do to their house was decorate it for Christmas.

    1313 Columbus Avenue

    Here we have a frame house refurbished to be habitable and comfortable. “Multipane” windows were used, of course, because is there any other kind? (Old Pa Pitt was shocked to visit a house with modern “multipane” windows and discover that the “panes” are really just cartoon lines drawn in plastic across a single sheet of glass.)


    This house suffered a fire years ago and appears to have been abandoned since then. At least some minimal work has been done to stabilize it. The dormer is distinctive; it would have been more so with its original decorative woodwork.


    We find some of the houses in better shape as we approach the western end of the street.

    1415 and 1417
    1415 and 1417
    1419 and 1421
    1421, front door
    1421, woodwork
  • Pittsburgh Tag Co. Building, North Side

    Allen Kirkpatrick & Co. building

    This building seems to have been put up for Allen Kirkpatrick & Co., but for years it was the home of the Pittsburgh Tag Co., as this ghost sign tells us. It has been vacant for some time.

    Pittsburgh Tag Co. ghost sign
    Sony Alpha 3000.

    The Pittsburgh Tag Company was founded in 1927, as we find in the Paper Trade Journal, December 15, 1927:

    Pittsburgh, Pa.—The Pittsburgh Tag Company, care of Charles F. C. Arensberg, 834 Amberson street, Pittsburgh, recently organized with a capital of $50,000, plans the operation of a local plant for the manufacture of paper tags and kindred specialties. Mr. Arensberg will be treasurer of the new company; James M. Graham and Jonathan S. Green will be directors.

  • C. S. Hixson Candy Co., Manchester

    C. S. Hixson Candy Co.

    Old Pa Pitt knew absolutely nothing earlier this morning about the C. S. Hixson Candy Company, but neither does the rest of the Internet. This article, therefore, immediately becomes the Internet’s leading and only source of information on the subject.

    The building was put up in 1917, to judge by listings in the American Contractor. Excavations had begun by April 28:

    Factory: $25,000. 4 sty. 59×96. Adams & Fulton sts, Priv. plans. Owner C. S. Hixson Candy Co., 1024 Vickroy st. Gen. Contr. C. E. Murphy & Sons, 516 Federal st. Carp. & conc. work by gen, contr. Brk. mas, to C. B. Lovatt, 1203 Federal st. Plmg, to Walter Gangloff, 2471 Perrysvilie av. Excav.

    Brick work had started by June 9.

    The company, however, did not prosper long. Its charter as a Delaware corporation was repealed in 1921 for failure to pay taxes. In 1926, The International Confectioner reported that “There will be a meeting of the stockholders of the C. S. Hixson Candy Co., Pittsburgh, Pa., Jan. 17, to consider the question of selling or leasing the business, or to liquidate it and close up.”

    And there you have everything Father Pitt was able to find out in twenty minutes, which is twenty minutes more than anyone else on the Internet has ever devoted to the subject.

    This old industrial building is tumbling to bits, and if the neighborhood were more valuable it would have been gone years ago. It is not a work of outstanding architecture; the construction listings specified “private plans,” which probably means “We can do without an architect.” The borders of the Manchester Historic District were carefully drawn to exclude it while including the modest Italianate houses next to it. The work going on at the top may be part of a demolition; at any rate, the cornice was intact a few years ago. But it is an interesting little bit of history, and it preserves a record of its original owner on the eastern face of the building.

    Ghost sign

    The old painted sign is still visible, and nearly legible with the help of some heavy manipulation. This is what it appears to say:

    C. S. HIXSON

    From Adams Street
    Kodak EasyShare Z981.
  • A Last Look at the Condemned Row on Market Street

    100 block of Market Street

    Appeals having been exhausted, this row of buildings on Market Street at First Avenue is scheduled to be demolished soon. They are not works of extraordinary architectural merit, but it will be a small urban tragedy to lose them. This block of Market Street was one of the few streets left downtown with human-sized old buildings on both sides of the street. This was the Pittsburgh of the Civil War era, not only before skyscrapers but also before the grand six-storey commercial palaces that came before skyscrapers.

    Perspective view
    Lowman-Shields Rubber Building

    The old Lowman-Shields Rubber Building is also condemned, having sat derelict for two decades or more. This Rundbogenstil warehouse is in very close to its original state externally, including the ghosts of old painted signs on the ground floor, probably dating from before the Lowman-Shields Rubber Company owned the building.

    Base of the building with painted signs
    Canon PowerShot SX150 IS.

    “Folding Paper Boxes,” “Paper,” “Cordage,” “Laundry Supplies.”

  • St. Michael’s Mädchen Schule, South Side Slopes

    St. Michael’s Mädchen Schule

    It seems certain that this building, formerly the girls’ school for St. Michael’s parish, will be demolished sooner or later; what has saved it so far is the expense of demolishing a large building in a neighborhood with low property values. But the South Side Slopes, like many city neighborhoods, have become much more valuable lately.

    Right now, the building appears to house a whole alternate civilization of “homeless” squatters. In an ideal city, perhaps, it could continue to do so, but with a city budget for maintaining it and providing the elementary comforts to the residents. We do not live in that ideal city.

    At any rate, it seemed worth stopping to record a few details of the building before it disappears entirely, and another piece of Pittsburgh’s rich German history is gone. We also have a few pictures from a year and a half ago, including a composite view of the front.

    Entrance, perspective view

    “St. Michael’s Mädchen Schule” (“St. Michael’s Girls’ School”).


    “Errichtet A. D. 1872” (“Erected A. D. 1872”).


    “Wiedererbaut A. D. 1900” (“Rebuilt A. D. 1900”).

    St. Michael’s Mädchen Schule
    Kodak EasyShare Z981.
  • Homewood United Presbyterian Church

    Homewood United Presbyterian Church

    Most recently the Homewood Church of God, this building seems to be vacant right now; and although Homewood is prospering more than it has done in decades, it is not likely that this church can be saved. It was built in 1905, and renovated enough in 1961 to merit a new cornerstone.

    Window over the entrance
    Idlewood Street side
    Homewood Avenue side
  • Theatre Bar and Mikell’s Barber Shop, McKeesport

    Theatre Bar and barber shop

    In some cities, when spring rolls around, people start to think about their gardens. In McKeesport, the headline is “Spring Demolition Projects Underway.” The story comes from the Tube City Almanac, one of the best local-news sites old Pa Pitt has ever seen, and a worthy successor to the lamented Daily News.

    The old Theatre Bar, with its splendid Art Deco ground floor and its eclectic museum of brickwork above, is not on the list to be demolished, but Mikell’s Barber Shop is. “Contrary to rumors, the building did not collapse, but it is being demolished by hand, slowly, to avoid damage to neighboring structures,” the Almanac reports, citing “A.J. Tedesco, city community development director.” If you ever wanted to know what “community development” looks like, here is a picture. The work is being done very slowly: the Almanac article was dated June 5, and this picture was taken three weeks later, but they show the building in the same state, including that pile of bricks coming through the window, which were, we presume, each carefully laid in place by hand, slowly, to avoid damaging neighboring structures.

    For many years, old Pa Pitt has admired the front of the Theatre Bar, but each time he was whizzing by on Walnut Street and did not stop to take a picture. This time, with the golden afternoon sun at the right angle, and the half-destroyed state of the building next door making him wonder how many more opportunities there might be before the bar was replaced by a vacant lot, he stopped.

    This will not be the last time Father Pitt praises the Tube City Almanac. It has been going for many years now, even longer than Father Pitt’s own site, beginning as a cheeky blog that covered the news the Daily News ignored, and gradually growing to a journalistic institution that employs real reporters and covers the news better than most local papers. It really is “Worthy of All Yohogania,” in the words of its longtime motto—a parody of the Tribune-Review’s “Worthy of Western Pennsylvania.” Its other motto, “More Than a Website—It’s a Community Instigation,” pays tribute to the Daily News, and we’ll talk about the Daily News soon.

  • Abandoned Houses Along Saw Mill Run

    Abandoned house from the 1880s

    We saw these houses a little while ago in pictures taken with a cheap cell-phone camera and in poor lighting. Since the houses will probably not be here forever, old Pa Pitt went back to document them in more even light with a more capable camera. These are the last remnants of a little village along Saw Mill Run, connected to the other side by the one-lane Timberland Avenue bridge. The one with the green siding above dates from the 1880s, the one below from the 1890s, according to the Pittsburgh Historic Maps site. Obviously they had substantial alterations during their lifetimes, but we can still recognize them in this picture from 1909 at the Brookline Connection site.

    1890s house
    Both houses
  • Art Deco Apartment Building, East Liberty

    Abandoned Art Deco apartment building

    Art Deco is not very common in Pittsburgh, although there were a few Art Deco apartment buildings in the East End. Here is one on Negley Avenue that probably will not be with us much longer; it looks as though it is scheduled to be replaced. It is a late Art Deco style; old Pa Pitt would guess it dates from the 1950s. Most of the building is just a modernist block, but the horizontal stripes give it more than average decorative flair, and the vertical forms of the entrance lift it into the realm of Art Deco.

  • Seventh Presbyterian Church, Hill

    Seventh Presbyterian Church

    Almost certainly nothing can be done to save this grand old Romanesque church on Herron Avenue in what used to be called Minersville. It has been abandoned too long and decayed too far to be revived except by some miraculously heroic effort, and miracles like that seldom happen on the Hill, where even the New Granada Theater has been languishing abandoned for decades. But enough remains of this church that we can at least admire the architecture of it before it comes down. It was built in 1894 as the Seventh Presbyterian Church (some online sources say First Presbyterian of Minersville, but it appears that the smaller frame building that formerly occupied this site was already called Seventh Presbyterian by 1890). By 1923 it was known as the Herron Avenue Presbyterian Church. It would later be bought by the John Wesley African Methodist Episcopal Church, which was founded in 1836, but by the 2000s that congregation apparently could no longer maintain the building. Water from mine runoff was a constant problem, according to the church’s long-out-of-date Wikipedia article.

    There are pictures of the vandalized interior various places on line if you look for them. Father Pitt follows his usual policy of not trespassing, so he brings you only a few pictures of the exterior, which is an interesting kind of Romanesque verging on Rundbogenstil—a word old Pa Pitt uses at every opportunity, because he likes to say it.

    Addendum: According to a city survey of historic buildings (spreadsheet), the architect was James N. Campbell.

    John Wesley A. M. A. Zion Church
    Ornament at the peak of the tower

    An iron ornament at the pinnacle of the main tower.

    With a tree
    From Wylie Avenue