Tag: Classical Architecture

  • National Bank of Western Pennsylvania

    National Bank of Western Pennsylvania

    The Penn Avenue front is now a restaurant, but it would not be hard to guess from the Ninth Street side that this used to be a bank: the National Bank of Western Pennsylvania.

    National Bank of Western Pennsylvania
  • Bell Telephone Building

    Fujifilm FinePix HS10.

    At the corner of Seventh Avenue and William Penn Place is a complicated and confused nest of buildings that belonged to the Bell Telephone Company. They are the product of a series of constructions and expansions supervised by different architects. This is the biggest of the lot, currently the 25th-tallest skyscraper in Pittsburgh, counting the nearly completed FNB Financial Center in the list.

    The group started with the original Telephone Building, designed by Frederick Osterling in Romanesque style. Behind that, and now visible only from a tiny narrow alley, is an addition, probably larger than the original building, designed by Alden & Harlow. Last came this building, which wraps around the other two in an L shape; it was built in 1923 and designed by James T. Windrim, Bell of Pennsylvania’s court architect at the time, and the probable designer of all those Renaissance-palace telephone exchanges you see in city neighborhoods. The style is straightforward classicism that looks back to the Beaux Arts skyscrapers of the previous generation and forward to the streamlined towers that would soon sprout nearby.

    Hidden from most people’s view is a charming arcade along Strawberry Way behind the building.

  • Niches on the College of Fine Arts Building, Carnegie Mellon University

    Henry Hornbostel designed the front of the Fine Arts Building with niches that display all styles of architectural decoration, and more practically give students a place to sit between classes. The niches have continued to accumulate sculpture in styles from all over the world. The whimsical figures in the Gothic niche may have been done by Achille Giammartini.

    Figure in first niche
    Figure in first niche
    Foliage with critters in first niche
    Lion eating an unfortunate Gothic figure
    Figure in first niche
    Figure in first niche
    Second niche

    In the classical niche, the three orders of Greek architecture: Corinthian, Doric, Ionic, demonstrated with correct proportions.

    Third niche
    Fourth niche
    Sculpture in Indian style, with Egyptian column
  • Penn Station

    Penn Station

    A Daniel Burnham masterpiece, fortunately preserved as luxury apartments (you have to go out back by the Dumpsters to catch a train). It was officially Union Station, but usually called Penn Station, since the railroads that were not owned by the Pennsylvania Railroad had their own separate stations.

    Union Station, Pittsburgh
    Penn Station
    Directly from the front
    Perspective view
    East Busway in front of Penn Station
    Fujifilm FinePix HS10.

    The East Busway runs right past the building on part of the original railroad right-of-way.

    We also have some close-up pictures of the terra-cotta decorations on Penn Station.

  • Mellon National Bank Building

    Mellon National Bank Building
    This picture has been manipulated on two planes to give the building a more natural perspective than is really possible in Pittsburgh’s narrow streets, at the cost of distorting a few other things.

    The Mellons ordered a bank that would convey the impression of rock-solid stability. It was designed by Trowbridge & Livingston, who would later design the even more imposing Federal Building and the Gulf Building, both also Mellon projects. (We call the Federal Building a Mellon project because Andrew W. Mellon was the Secretary of the Treasury who specified it and wrote his name on it in bronze.) It was a Lord & Taylor department store for about four years in the early 2000s, for which the splendid interior was mostly destroyed. Later, PNC took it over as a call center, and restored some of the bits of interior that were left.

    Inscription: Founded MDCCCLXIX—Chartered MDCCCCII; this building erected MDCCCCXXIII
    Copper cornice
    Light fixture
    Fujifilm FinePix HS10.
  • College of Fine Arts, Carnegie Mellon University

    Creare over the entrance

    The front of the College of Fine Arts in sunset light. Above, the word CREARE (“to create”) inscribed above the entrance by decorative sculptor Achille Giammartini.

    College of Fine Arts, Carnegie Mellon University
    Entrance decoration




  • Allegheny Elks’ Lodge, Dutchtown

    Allegheny Elks’ Lodge
    Sony Alpha 3000.

    Men’s clubs live in terror of windows, which they gradually block up with glass blocks, bricks, or whatever else is handy. But the outlines of this dignified clubhouse remain as the architect drew them. It was designed in 1924 by Edward B. Lee, replacing an earlier lodge (designed by William E. Snaman) that had been destroyed by fire.

    The style is noticeably similar to the style of the Americus Republican Club, also by Lee. The buildings are radically different shapes, but Lee applied the same design vocabulary to make both clubs look respectable in their different locations.

  • Edwin Markham Public School, Mount Lebanon

    Inscription: Edwin Markham Public School, Mount Lebanon

    All the older schools in Mount Lebanon were designed by Ingham & Boyd, and here we see a fine example of their style. An Ingham & Boyd school is an implied guarantee that your children will grow up to be respectable citizens. The buildings are in a restrained classical style, with just enough ornament to show that good money was spent on this structure. This particular school is named for a poet who was a big deal in the early twentieth century and has been almost completely forgotten since then.

    Edwin Markham Public School
    Edwin Markham Public School
    Edwin Markham Public School
    Fujifilm FinePix HS10.
  • First National Bank, Verona

    First National Bank of Verona

    A rich-looking little bank dripping with terra-cotta ornaments on the façade. It later became the headquarters of the Pan-Icarian Brotherhood, a fraternal society whose membership “is open to anyone over 18 years of age (or their spouse) whose ancestry can be traced to the eastern Aegean Greek islands of Icaria or Fournoi.” These two islands made up an independent country, the Free State of Icaria, for a few months in 1912—which, by an odd coincidence, is the year this bank was built. The Pan-Icarian Brotherhood was founded in Verona; it now has a number of other chapters around the country.

    1893—The First National Bank—1912
    Pan-Icarian Brotherhood

    Map showing the location of the building.

    Cameras: Canon PowerShot SX150 IS; Kodak EasyShare Z1285.

  • Base of the Law & Finance Building

    Base of the Law & Finance Building

    The Law & Finance Building was a rather old-fashioned skyscraper when it went up in 1927–1928. It was designed by Philip Jullien of Washington (D. C., where he wasn’t allowed to design skyscrapers, owing to city height limits that are still uniquely in place) in the base-shaft-cap formula typical of the early age of skyscrapers. It even has the regulation bosses’ floor above the base.

    Base of the Law & Finance Building

    What is unique is the row of ornamental heads above the bosses’ floor, perhaps representing the severed heads of the developer’s political opponents.

    Ornamental heads
    Ornamental head