Tag: Hannah (Thomas)

  • First United Presbyterian Church, Coraopolis

    First United Presbyterian Church

    This is a fine building in a good neighborhood, and you could buy it right now and move in. You might have to spend another million or so fixing it up, but the structure is sound and the interior of the sanctuary, from what we can see on that real-estate site, is intact in the most important details. It does need work, but the best parts of the interior are still there. If you are a congregation looking for a sanctuary, you can put your teenage members to work. That’s why you have youth groups, after all.

    The church was built in 1915; the architect was Thomas Hannah, a big deal in Pittsburgh architecture. Comparing the church today to an old postcard, we can see that nothing has changed on the outside.

    Old postcard of First United Presbyterian in Coraopolis

    Well, one thing has changed. The church accumulated decades of industrial grime, turning it into one of our splendid black-stone churches, and the blackness, though fading, has not been cleaned off. Father Pitt hopes the church will pass into the hands of someone who appreciates it in its current sooty grandeur.

    The other thing that is different is the long-gone building behind the church in the postcard. It was almost certainly the older sanctuary, probably kept standing as a social hall. It has been gone for years now.

    Front of the church

    The style of the church is what we might call Picksburgh Perpendicular, the common adaptation of Perpendicular Gothic to the more squarish auditorium-like form of Protestant churches that emphasized preaching over liturgy. Old Pa Pitt will admit that he does not like the stubby secondary tower on the left. It is probably very useful in providing space for a stairwell, but the two towers are too widely separated, as if they are not on speaking terms. The emphatic corner tower is the star of the show, and the other tower seems to be making an ineffectual attempt to upstage it. In spite of that quibble, though, this is a beautiful building that deserves appreciative owners.

    Side of the building
    Side from a different angle
  • Renshaw Building, Kirkpatrick Building, Shannon Building

    Renshaw Building, Kirkpatrick Building, Shannon Building
    Fujifilm FinePix HS10.

    On Liberty Avenue downtown.

  • Western Theological Seminary, Allegheny West

    Western Theological Seminary
    Sony Alpha 3000.

    We saw the Western Theological Seminary at the blue hour last month. Here are a few pictures taken just after sunset, when the light is brighter and just touched with gold.


    The building was designed by Thomas Hannah in 1914. It is now West Hall of the Community College of Allegheny County, which has an admirable record of preserving historic buildings.

    Top of the tower
    Perspective view
    Another perspective
    From the sidewalk
  • House by Hannah & Sterling in Beverly Heights

    House designed by Hannah & Sterling

    One of the most remarkable things about the houses in the Mount Lebanon Historic District is how little they change. Many of them are preserved almost exactly as they were built—like this one, built in 1934 from a design by Hannah & Sterling. Hannah is Thomas Hannah, an architect at the end of a long and prosperous career when this house was built; Sterling was the younger P. Howard Sterling, who would continue designing houses in Mount Lebanon after his older partner died. The picture above shows the house as it appears today, and the fuzzy microfilm picture (it’s the lower of these two pictures) from the Pittsburgh Press right after the house was built matches it almost exactly.

    Pittsburgh Press, October 28, 1934.
    61 Longuevue Drive
  • Western Theological Seminary, Allegheny West

    Western Theological Seminary

    “Blue hour” pictures are very fashionable these days. Well, old Pa Pitt can do those too, if you really want them.

    Western Theological Seminary tower

    We also have pictures of the Western Theological Seminary by day.

  • 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: