414 First Avenue

414 First Avenue

There is almost nothing distinctive about this building, but Father Pitt would be very sorry to lose it. It is a very good example of a simple commercial building of the early twentieth century. The subtle decorative details are tasteful without ostentation. The ghost sign preserves some of the building’s commercial history. The ground floor has been unsympathetically altered, but the alterations are superficial and could be reverted without too much expense.

Demmler Bros. Building

Demmler Bros. Building

Demmler Bros. (now Demmler Machinery) built its headquarters in the Romanesque style that was very popular for warehouses and industrial buildings; for other examples, see the Standard Sanitary Manufacturing Company Warehouse and the B. M. Kramer & Company Building. The company has moved to the suburbs, but ghost signs still betray the origin of the building.

228 First Avenue

228 First Avenue

Does anyone know the architect or the history of this building? Father Pitt put in almost fifteen minutes of work trying to find out something about it, but nothing came up in his searches. It is a particularly elegant little façade, and right now you can buy it and preserve it for future generations.

Standard Sanitary Manufacturing Company Warehouse

Standard Sanitary Manufacturing Company Warehouse

A particularly elegant Romanesque warehouse built for the company that made bathroom plumbing fashion-conscious. Standard later merged with American Radiator to form American-Standard, still a leader in toilet technology today. The building is now luxurious offices under the name “Fort Pitt Commons.” According to the boundary-increase application for the Firstside Historic district, it was built 1900–1905; the architect is unknown, which is a pity, because it was obviously someone with a real sense of rhythm in architecture. (If you backed old Pa Pitt into a corner and asked him to guess the architect, he might say Charles Bickel, whose Reymer Brothers candy factory Uptown is very similar in many details, including the treatment of the arches.) Above, the side that faces Fort Pitt Boulevard and the Mon; below, the First Avenue side.

1st Ave Lofts

1st Ave Lofts (Graphic Arts Building)

A dwarf skyscraper with the regulation base-shaft-cap formula, this elegantly simple commercial building was designed by Joseph F. Kuntz and finished in 1907. It used to be known as the Graphic Arts Building before it was turned into luxury apartments. Soon every building downtown will be luxury apartments, and all the commercial offices will have to move to the suburbs.