Tag: Hannah (Thomas)

  • Reflection of the Keenan Building

    Top of the Keenan Building reflected in a modernist skyscraper

    The top of the Keenan Building (designed by Thomas Hannah) reflected in One Oliver Plaza (designed by William Lescaze and now the K&L Gates Center). It occurs to old Pa Pitt that some modernist buildings rely for most of their visual impact on what they reflect: the sky and other buildings, usually. We might say that makes them aesthetic parasites.

  • Baptist Home, Mount Lebanon

    Baptist Home

    In the early twentieth century, orphans—of whom there were too many—were sent to live in orphanages. We don’t do that anymore, and most of the large orphanages in our area have long since been demolished. This is an exception: it was also an old folks’ home, and that function remains.

    Panoramic view of the front of the building

    Addendum: Here is a rendering of the building the way the architect designed it, from The Builder, June, 1914:

    That whole issue is devoted to works of architect Thomas Hannah, whom we had already identified as the architect from the Construction Record, as you see below.

    The original section was built in 1914, and the architect was Thomas Hannah, as we learn from the invaluable Construction Record:

    November 22, 1913: “Architect Thomas Hannah, Keenan building, has plans under way for an orphanage and home for the aged to be constructed in Mt. Lebanon for the Baptist Orphanage & Home Society of Western Pennsylvania, Union Bank building. The building will contain administration offices and accommodations for about 50 persons.”

    May 16, 1914: “The new building for the Baptist Orphanage, to be built in Mt. Lebanon, Pittsburgh, plans for which were made by Architect Thomas Hannah, Keenan building, Pittsburgh will be a three-story and basement brick structure, 36×105 feet. It is expected that the contract for erecting same will be awarded shortly. Material specifications will include structural steel, concrete foundations, cut stone work, face brick, composition roofing, sheet metal work, concrete porch floors, interior finish of yellow pine, low pressure steam heating system, plumbing, lighting fixtures, etc.”


    This simple but elegantly proportioned outbuilding could also be Hannah’s work.

  • East Liberty YMCA

    East Liberty YMCA

    This glorious Renaissance palace was built in 1910; the architect was Thomas Hannah, who also gave us the Keenan Building. It is now a hotel.

    Inscribed lunette
    Arch with decoration

    Addendum: Here is a picture of the building when it was freshly built, from the June 1914 issue of The Builder, which is devoted to works of Thomas Hannah. The long side faced open space in those days.

  • St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Cathedral

    St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Cathedral

    Built in 1904 as the First Congregational Church, this building had a surprisingly short life with its original congregation; the Congregationalists left in 1921, and the Greek Orthodox congregation bought it in 1923. The church became a cathedral when Pittsburgh was elevated to a diocese. The architect was Thomas Hannah, who was at home in both classical and Gothic idioms. Here he went all in for classical, producing an ostentatiously Ionic front that looks like a Greek temple—which, oddly, is a style a Greek Orthodox congregation would never choose for its church if it were building one from scratch.

    St. Nicholas
  • Lindsay House, Chatham University

    One of several mansions that have become part of Chatham University, this tasteful Tudor house is comparatively modest against its neighbors the Mellons and the Reas.

    Addendum: We find from the June 1911 issue of The Builder that this was built as the President’s Home for the Pennsylvania College for Women. The architect was Thomas Hannah. Here are two pictures from the magazine:

  • Western Theological Seminary, Allegheny West

    Western Theological Seminary, Allegheny West

    Originally the Western Theological Seminary (a Presbyterian seminary), this building was designed by Thomas Hannah and finished in 1912. The seminary stayed here until 1959, when it merged with the other big Presbyterian seminary in town and became part of the Pittsburgh Theological Seminary in Highland Park.

    Like most of the other large buildings on Ridge Avenue, this one now belongs to the Community College of Allegheny County, which calls it West Hall.

    Top of the tower
  • Beechview United Presbyterian Church

    This unassuming little church, like most of the Protestant churches in Beechview, is easy to miss: it sits on the main business street in the middle of the main business district, and it is not much larger than the small storefronts along Broadway. But it seems, if old Pa Pitt’s research is correct, to have been the work of a distinguished architect: Thomas Hannah, who designed the Keenan Building, St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Cathedral (formerly a Congregational church), and the Western Theological Seminary (now West Hall of the Community College of Allegheny County), along with many other smaller projects like this one.

  • Keenan Building

    The Keenan Building in bright early-morning sunshine, seen from Sixth Avenue.

  • Keenan Building


    The fantastical Arabian Nights dome on top of this building was Col. Keenan’s own penthouse. It was rumored to be a love nest he shared with his mistress; Mr. Franklin Toker relates that a whole generation of Pittsburgh ladies learned to cross the street rather than walk on the sidewalk in front of that den of iniquity. In front of it is the low triangular building that began as the Monongahela National Bank, but now houses the Wood Street subway station below and an art gallery above.