Whimsical Brickwork in Mount Lebanon

Apartment Building on Central Square

Here is another example of the odd whimsies that sometimes pop up as small apartment buildings. This is the storybook-cottage style that was popular for single-family houses in the 1920s and 1930s built up into a storybook castle. But the most remarkable thing about it is the deliberately random decorative brickwork. It reminds old Pa Pitt of something Frank Gehry would do.

Random brickwork

This extreme randomness would probably not hold up the whole wall, so it is used only in the sort-of-half-timbered section above the entrance. But the rest of the brickwork was made as cartoonishly irregular as possible.

Irregular brickwork

Some bricklayer had a lot of fun—or a lot of under-his-breath cursing—with this assignment. We note, however, that the balcony railings have been repaired. Perhaps they were originally wood, or perhaps the irregular brickwork proved less than sound.

The Admiral Apartments, Shadyside

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

Second Empire House, Jane Street, South Side

This exceptionally fine Second Empire house sits at the end of a row, and therefore has two exposed surfaces for the architect to play with. Victorian architects did not like plain flat surfaces, and whoever designed this house lost no opportunity to vary the shape and texture.

Seldom Seen Arch

The Wabash Railroad built this picturesque structure to carry its line over Saw Mill Run and the little lane that led back into the village of Seldom Seen.

Herringbone

The sidewalk along Sidney Street, South Side. Old brick sidewalks are pleasant and picturesque; they do tend to be just irregular enough to be hazardous to pedestrians whose eyes are glued to their phone screens.