Seen from the corner of O’Hara Street and University Place.
The richly detailed Peoples Building deserves owners and tenants who will love it, and we hope it can find them. It has at least been stabilized by its current owner, and it looks like an attractive place to have an office.
These entrances want clocks, but the elegance of the gleaming white stone is unimpaired.
This classical roof ornament was clearly meant to be right in the middle of the Fifth Avenue side, but it appears that the building was expanded by two more bays not long after it was built.
The McKeesport Community Newsroom site gives us A Peek Inside the Peoples Building, showing us a wonderful time capsule that it would almost be a shame to disturb. If old Pa Pitt were a billionaire, he would buy the building, preserve all the contents as they are, and call it a museum, and then not care whether anyone actually paid the 50¢ admission fee, because he would be a billionaire.
This small apartment building on Centre Avenue is named for its most obvious and distinctive feature: a two-storey Doric colonnade that has just been freshly painted.
Addendum: According to the city architectural inventory (PDF), the Colonnade was built in 1907.
This building was our first specialty eye and ear hospital, and a brief description from a history published in 1922 will show us how the idea of a hospital has changed in a century.
Located on Fifth avenue, corner of Jumonville street, is the Eye and Ear Hospital, under the auspices of a board of women managers. It had its inception at a meeting held May 20, 1895, at the home of Miss Sarah H. Killikelly, who during her lifetime was well known in the literary and historical circles of the city. A charter was secured June 22, 1895, and a location was secured on Penn avenue, but a removal was made to the present building in 1905. The first board of managers consisted of thirteen women and two physicians, eye specialists, for the medical and surgical treatment of all diseases of the eye, ear, nose and throat. The patients are divided into three classes—first, for the poor who require treatment of a character that is not necessary to detain them at the hospital; second, for the poor who require detention in the hospital, to whom free beds are allotted in the wards and a nominal charge made if they are able to pay; third, for those able to pay, private rooms are furnished, therefore the hospital is in no sense a charity; it must under its charter minister without charge to all those who suffer from any disease of the eye and ear, who are unable to pay for treatment.
No further remark is needed.
The Mellon Institute of Industrial Research was founded as part of the University of Pittsburgh, and this was its home for the first two decades of its life. When the Mellon Institute declared its independence, it moved to its palatial quarters out Fifth Avenue, and the old Mellon Institute building became Allen Hall at the University of Pittsburgh.
The building, which opened in 1915, was designed by J. H. Giesy, and it was properly classical to match Henry Hornbostel’s slightly mad plan of making the University a new Athenian Acropolis in Pittsburgh. (The plan was later abandoned in favor of Charles Z. Klauder’̑s much madder plan of a skyscraper university.)
The richly detailed bronze doors are unique.
The building is precisely located for the best vista up Thackeray Street.
Here is a picture of the building when it was new in 1915:
And old Pa Pitt has duplicated that picture for you in 2022, because that is the kind of effort he puts into serving his readers:
Nothing about the exterior has changed except the plantings, and even those have been reduced to show off the building: a few years ago much of the front was obscured by trees.
The Roberts Building was put up for a jeweler, and its gem-like attention to detail seems appropriate.
Some of the happiest carved lions in Pittsburgh adorn the cornice.
These decorative tiles suggest the jeweler’s art.
An amusing game to play with out-of-town visitors is to offer to show them an invisible building. Explain that you will make an invisible building visible before their eyes; then take them to the northeast corner of Wood Street and Forbes Avenue. Ask your visitors to describe the building on the opposite corner. They will almost invariably describe the Roberts Building. Then explain that they have described, not the building on the corner, but the building next to it. The building on the corner is invisible to them, because their brains have no category for a building that is five feet two inches wide.
This is the Skinny Building, and once it has revealed itself to you, you will see that it is indeed a completely different building. It was built as an act of spite by a property owner whose property was rendered apparently worthless by street widening. The ground floor usually sells T-shirts and Pittsburgh souvenirs; various attempts are made at various times to find a use for the upper floors.
Thousands of commuters pass the little shelter on Fifth Avenue just east of the Highland Avenue intersection every day, but how many ever give it a second glance? Perhaps it was an especially luxurious trolley shelter, suitable to its rich neighborhood, or just a decoration for the expensive condominiums above it.
But in fact it was a public spring, of which Pittsburgh has more than one. The water no longer flows from this one, but the little Greek temple remains, and perhaps the nymph of the spring still weeps occasionally for her lost worshipers. The current structure, built in 1912, was designed by W. H. Van Tine; it replaced one by Alden & Harlow that had been destroyed by the city, causing, according to the Wikipedia article, a monumental stink.