Tag: Domestic Architecture

  • A Stroll Down Beech Avenue in Allegheny West

    Porches along Beech Avenue

    Beech Avenue may be old Pa Pitt’s favorite residential street in the city. It is an eclectic mix of Victorian styles lined up on brick sidewalks, and something about it makes first-time visitors think, “I want to stay here forever.”

  • A Few More Houses from St. Clair Terrace, Mount Lebanon

    53 Mount Lebanon Boulevard

    A few more houses from the St. Clair Terrace plan in Mount Lebanon. As always in these interwar Mount Lebanon neighborhoods, the variety and quality of the designs are both striking.

    1229 Washington Road
    42 St. Clair Drive

    This kind of house, with its front door in a cone-capped turret, is known to Pittsburghers as a “Normandy.”

    31 Mount Lebanon Boulevard
    1235 Washington Road
    25 Roycroft Avenue
    1241 Washington Road
    15 Mt. Lebanon Blvd
  • A Stony Row on Liverpool Street, Manchester

    Row at Liverpool and Fulton Streets
    Kodak EasyShare Z1285.

    This row of stone-fronted houses is a good example of late-Victorian eclecticism. The heavy rustic stone and elaborate foliage decorations say “Romanesque,” but the porch columns have “modern Ionic” capitals typical of the Renaissance. And it all works together just fine, though it might give an architectural pedant hives.

    Modern Ionic capital
    Nikon COOLPIX P100.

    The stonecarving was probably done by Achille Giammartini, who lived a few blocks away on Page Street.

    Achille Giammartini advertising his services

    Hiding in the shadows is a whimsical grotesque face that may remind us of somebody we know.

    Grotesque foliage face
    Row of stone houses
    Front door

    Note the old address, 185, carved in stone beside the door to what is now 1305 Liverpool Street. The addresses in Manchester changed at about the time Allegheny was taken into Pittsburgh.

    1301–1309 Liverpool Street, Manchester
  • The North Side of Rocklynn Place, Mount Lebanon

    37 Rocklynn Place
    Samsung Digimax V4.

    The southern side of Rocklynn Place (originally Rockwood Avenue) was part of the St. Clair Terrace plan. The northern side was sold off as individual lots a little bit later in the 1920s, and some splendid houses went up, some of which we see here. The pictures were taken with two different cameras, one of which was set to monochrome just because it makes one think of the picture differently to know that color will not be a factor.

    37 Rocklynn Place
    Kodak EasyShare Z1285.
    27 Rocklynn Place
    25 Rocklynn Place
    33 Rocklynn Place
    33 Rocklynn Place
    45 Rocklynn Place
    49 Rocklynn Place
  • Like New on Hoodridge Drive, Mount Lebanon

    201 Hoodridge Drive

    Seven rooms and two baths: this house (obviously photographed a few weeks ago) is at the more modest end of Hoodridge Drive, but it is in good taste and almost completely unaltered since it was built in 1935. We know that because, when it was “just completed,” it was pictured in a Press real-estate feature. Although the microfilm reproduction is very poor, we can still see enough to tell that nothing material has changed.

  • Birthplace of Gertrude Stein, Allegheny West

    Gertrude Stein birthplace

    “Gertrude Stein was born in Allegheny, Pennsylvania,” says Alice in The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas. “As I am an ardent californian and as she spent her youth there I have often begged her to be born in California but she has always remained firmly born in Allegheny, Pennsylvania. She left it when she was six months old and has never seen it again and now it no longer exists being all of it Pittsburgh. She used however to delight in being born in Allegheny, Pennsylvania when during the war, in connection with war work, we used to have papers made out and they always immediately wanted to know one’s birth-place. She used to say if she had been really born in California as I wanted her to have been she would never have had the pleasure of seeing the various french officials try to write, Allegheny, Pennsylvania.”

  • Clarence and Mary Pettit House, Manchester

    Pettit House

    This house has a more detailed history at the Manchester Historic Society’s site, so old Pa Pitt will only mention the highlights. It was built for Clarence and Mary Dravo Pettit in 1891 from a design by Thomas Scott, whose public buildings would mostly be done in a Beaux Arts classical style; here, however, he has jumped on the Richardsonian Romanesque bandwagon, since the style became practically a mania in Pittsburgh after the county courthouse was built in the 1880s.


    It is likely that the decorative stonecarving was done by Achille Giammartini, whose own house was a short stroll from this one.


    If your turret has a decorative foliage frieze, you might as well gild it. And don’t forget the finial at the peak.

    Perspective view of the house
  • Fairy-Tale Fantasy in Mount Lebanon

    1247 Washington Road
    Kodak EasyShare Z1285.

    What old Pa Pitt calls the Fairy-Tale Style was very popular in the 1920s and 1930s. The mark of the style is an exaggerated historicism in which the historical elements are rendered less as accurate reproductions of historical styles and more as if they were illustrations in a children’s book. This house in the St. Clair Terrace plan in Mount Lebanon is a perfect representative of the style.

    1247 Washington Road
    Washington Road end of the house
    St. Clair Place side of the house
    Fujifilm FinePix HS10.
  • Louis Brown House, Shadyside

    Louis Brown house
    Kodak EasyShare Z1285.

    Edward Weber was best known for his school designs—notably Central Catholic High School and St. Mark’s School in the McKees Rocks Bottoms. The sense of fairy-tale whimsy he showed in those designs was on full display in this house, which Weber designed for Louis Brown in 1913. It shows the same Jugendstil influence that we identified in the Lilian Henius house in Highland Park, which was designed by our noted early modernists Kiehnel & Elliott; this one is on a grander scale, but if we did not know the architect we would be forgiven for speculating that the two houses were drawn with the same pencil.

    Louis Brown house
    Nikon COOLPIX P100.
    704 Amberson Avenue
    Louis Brown house
  • Thomas Pringle House, Schenley Farms

    Thomas Pringle house
    Kodak EasyShare Z1285.

    This house is not quite like anything else: it’s a little bit Tudor, a little bit Arts and Crafts, and a little bit Renaissance. Thomas Pringle, an architect whose most famous works are churches and religious institutions, designed it for himself against an improbable hillside in Schenley Farms.

    4231 Parkman Avenue
    Olympus E-20N.
    Vignette of Mercury

    This bronze medallion of Mercury sits over the front door.

    Perspective view
    Fuji FinePix HS10.