Tag: Brookline Boulevard

  • Old Frame Church in Brookline

    Old St. Mark’s

    There are a couple of interesting used-to-bes about this frame duplex in Brookline. First, it used to be St. Mark’s English Lutheran Church: it was built before 1910, when the neighborhood was first being developed. In 1929, the church moved several blocks away to a new stone building designed by O. M. Topp, and this was converted to a double house.

    Second, although the building stands on Bodkin Street now, it used to be on Brookline Boulevard. It was not the building that moved, however: the street moved out from under it. Brookline Boulevard used to go down toward West Liberty Avenue in a straight line from the top of the hill, but the grade was too steep for streetcars, which were routed in their own right-of-way that made a long curve down the hill. When the streetcar line to Brookline was abandoned, the western section of Brookline Boulevard, from Pioneer to West Liberty Avenues, was routed over the abandoned streetcar right-of-way, and the old Brookline Boulevard was renamed Bodkin Street.

    Looking up the steps
    403 and 405 Bodkin Street
  • Fire Tower in Brookline

  • Brookline Boulevard United Presbyterian Church

    Brookline Boulevard United Presbyterian Church

    The main part of this church building, which now belongs to the Tree of Life Open Bible Church, opened in 1924. The style is a kind of utilitarian Perpendicular, with attractive stone textures and buttresses and a couple of broad pointed Tudor arches characteristic of the English Perpendicular style; but the side windows are plain rectangles.

    This and later additions largely conceal an older chapel built in 1913, which became the rear of the new church. The Christian Education wing along the Brookline Boulevard side was built in 1953 in a more elaborate (and earlier) Gothic style that harmonizes well with the main building. Clearly the church was feeling rich in the early 1950s, when many other churches were abandoning Gothic altogether and building modernist warehouses.

    The Presbyterians sold this church to the Tree of Life congregation in 2016, but rented space in it for two more years until giving up in 2018.

    Lower side
    From across intersection
    Brookline Boulevard side
  • St. Mark’s Evangelical Lutheran Church, Brookline

    St. Mark’s Lutheran Church

    When this small but rich Gothic church opened in 1929, it was intended to be temporary. A much grander church would be built next to it, and this would become the Sunday-school wing. But decades passed and the new church had not yet been built. Meanwhile Gothic architecture had become extinct. Finally it was decided to keep the original building as the sanctuary and add a new Sunday school and auditorium in a 1960s modern style with pointed arches to recall its Gothic neighbor.

    Church complex
    Oblique view of church
    From across the street

    Addendum: The architect of the 1929 building, and probably of the never-built church, was O. M. Topp. Source: The Charette, Vol. 7, No. 1 (January 1927): “173. Architect: O. M. Topp, Jenkins Arcade, Pittsburgh, Pa. Title: St. Mark’s Lutheran Church. Location: Brookline Boulevard and Glenarm Avenue. Preliminary stage. Approximate size: One story and basement. Stone exterior, ordinary construction. Cubage 200,000 feet.”

  • Go Straight at the Intersection

    Or, you know, do your best. A typically Pittsburgh sign on Brookline Boulevard.

  • Brookline Methodist Episcopal Church

    Brookline Methodist Episcopal Church

    This church was finished in 1927 and continued to serve the Methodists until about a quarter-century ago. It now belongs to the Brookline Assembly, an Assemblies of God congregation. Old Pa Pitt has not been able to find out who the architect was, but there’s a wealth of other information at the wonderfully well-informed Brookline Connection site, including the interesting fact that the stone is Beaver County sandstone.

    Brookline Assembly
  • Engine House Fifty-Seven, Brookline

    Firehouse in Brookline

    A firehouse that looks like the Platonic ideal of a firehouse. The tower commands a view that must extend for miles: not only is the tower itself tall, but the station is built at the crest of a hill.

    Addendum: The architects were Thomas W. Boyd & Co. This is a near-duplicate of the firehouse by the same firm at 3000 Chartiers Avenue, Sharaden, even though that one is dated 1928, eighteen years later

  • Ash Wednesday in Brookline

    You can tell it’s Ash Wednesday because churches in all the neighborhoods are offering fish ’n’ at. This church in Brookline was Presbyterian until recently, but now appears to be nondenominational.

  • The Boulevard

    Brookline Boulevard

    Brookline Boulevard, known simply as “the Boulevard” in the neighborhood, is the broadest commercial street in Pittsburgh—which surprises visitors from flat cities, where it would be at best a middling business street. It’s a curiously one-sided business strip: almost all the businesses are on the southwest side, the northeast side being primarily residential.

    That may be because, for much of the neighborhood’s life, it was effectively two streets. When trolleys ran in Brookline, Brookline Boulevard was two narrow strips for cars, with trolleys in a separate median in the middle—much like Broadway in Dormont along the current Red Line. Removing the trolleys and paving the median created the exceptionally broad street.

    The Brookline business district is one that is seldom thought of as a destination for shoppers from out of the neighborhood. But it should be. It has very few chain stores, but it is prosperous enough that storefronts are seldom empty for long. The result is a delightful mix of little one-off shops, cafés, and ethnic restaurants.

    The tower in the distance is the lookout tower of Engine House Fifty-Seven.

  • Engine House Fifty-Seven

    Brookline firehouse

    A firehouse that looks very much like a firehouse, this was built in 1910, when the neighborhood was young, at a high point from which a fireman in the tower could see for miles.

    Brookline firehouse