Webster Hall from the Corner of Dithridge Street

Webster Hall

An oblique view of Webster Hall. And is that a bus coming toward us? Yes, it is.

Roof Ornaments, Soldiers and Sailors Memorial

Above, the distinctive grotesque eruption at the pinnacle of the pyramid roof. Below, the alternating eagles and torches of the cornice.

Soldiers and Sailors Memorial, Oakland

The story told by architectural historian Franklin Toker is that the architect Henry Hornbostel wanted this building to face Fifth Avenue, with a long vista back from the street, but the clients insisted that it had to face Bigelow Boulevard. Reluctantly Hornbostel acquiesced—and then built it his way anyway. What are you going to do? Tear it down and do it over?

This is one of a number of buildings in Pittsburgh inspired by the Mausoleum at Halicarnassus, and this is the one that most obviously follows its model.

Rodef Shalom Temple

Rodef Shalom Temple

One of Henry Hornbostel’s most impressive works, Rodef Shalom, built in 1906, is notable for its colored terra-cotta decorations, which—according to the interpretive sign on the temple grounds—were among the earliest uses of polychrome terra cotta in the United States.

Find it on the map

Webster Hall

Webster Hall

A full view of the Fifth Avenue façade of Webster Hall. The design is by Henry Hornbostel, who successfully created a conservative Art Deco classicism that harmonizes with the other grand monuments on Fifth Avenue.

The building was apparently put up as fancy bachelor apartments, but soon became a grand hotel (it is now apartments again). It was famous for the Webster Hall Cake, whose secret recipe is still treasured by little old ladies all over Pittsburgh. But old Pa Pitt is delighted to discover that the Pittsburgh Jewish Chronicle has a whole article on Webster Hall Cake, including two recipes that claim to be close approximations. Father Pitt suspects that there are still little old ladies out there who claim to have the real thing, but these recipes are a good start.