Tag: Interiors

  • Lighting the Interior of Soldiers and Sailors Hall in 1913

    Night view of auditorium, illuminated by mercury vapor tubes, nitrogen vapor tubes, carbon and tungsten lamps
    Night view of auditorium, illuminated by mercury vapor tubes, nitrogen vapor tubes, carbon and tungsten lamps

    From The Brickbuilder in 1913, two views showing how interior spaces in the Allegheny County Soldiers’ Memorial were illuminated.

    Night view of banquet hall and ballroom, illuminated by tungsten lamps, screened by amber shades
    Night view of banquet hall and ballroom, illuminated by tungsten lamps, screened by amber shades

    An interesting note on the auditorium: In 1960, Syria Mosque across the street was the usual venue for Pittsburgh Symphony performances. But when the Symphony made some high-tech ultra-high-fidelity recordings for Everest that year, conductor William Steinberg insisted on using the auditorium in Soldiers and Sailors Hall instead. He thought the acoustics were much better. Those Everest recordings are still regarded by connoisseurs as some of the most real-sounding symphonic recordings ever made.

  • Emmanuel Lutheran Church, Bellevue, in 1958

    A beautifully composed picture of the interior of Emmanuel’s taken in February of 1958 by an unknown wedding photographer. The church is now a nondenominational church called Christ the King (which sounds like a very Lutheran name), and the congregation keeps it up beautifully, as we can see in the rest of these pictures. Old Pa Pitt must apologize for the lighting: the sun was from exactly the wrong direction.

    This church is obviously the work of an architect of no little skill, and Father Pitt would be delighted if someone could identify who it was. —Update: Father Pitt identifies Allison & Allison as the architects. Source: Philadelphia Real Estate Record and Builders’ Guide, April 22, 1908: “At Pittsburg, architects Allison & Allison, Westinghouse Building, are receiving bids for the erection of a Lutheran church at Bellevue, Pa. The cost will be $15,000. Rev. Hankey is in charge.”

    Emmanuel Lutheran Church
    Emmanuel Lutheran Church
    Blessing and honor and glory and power

    Here is a map with a pointer at the church.

  • Grand Concourse, Pittsburgh and Lake Erie Terminal

    The interior of the P&LE terminal, now Pittsburgh’s most spectacular restaurant.

    Addendum: According to the Inland Architect, the “quite elaborate” waiting room and stair hall were designed by Crossman & Sturdy, decorators, of Chicago. The architect of the building was William G. Burns, or possibly George W. Burns, depending on the source.

  • Mellon Hall, Chatham University

    Front entrance

    Andrew Mellon’s summer home is now one of several millionaires’ mansions that belong to Chatham University. It is open for students who want a quiet place to study. Mr. Mellon, in addition to being absurdly rich himself, was also Secretary of the Treasury in the 1920s, and widely considered the most powerful man in Washington: they used to say that three presidents served under him (Harding, Coolidge, Hoover). He was one of the few competent and relatively honest members of Warren G. Harding’s administration, and for most of the 1920s he was often called the greatest Secretary of the Treasury since Alexander Hamilton. Then came the Great Depression, and he was not as popular as he had been.

    The house was built in 1897 for the Laughlins of Jones and Laughlin; Mellon bought it in 1917 and set about remaking it to his tastes, adding, among other things, an indoor swimming pool, supposedly the first private one in Pittsburgh.

    Great hall
    Grand staircase
    Books and windows
    A different angle
    Looking through to the great hall
    Mantel decoration

    A mantel decoration.

    Sun room

    The sun room.

    The back of the house.

    The back of the house.

    Board Room entrance

    The swimming pool was adapted in 2008 for use as the Board Room, with a new handicap-accessible entrance that combined new construction with as much of the existing architecture as could be reused. The architects of the project were Rothschild Doyno Collaborative.

  • Art Deco Christmas in the Koppers Building

    Christmas tree in the Koppers Building lobby

    The lobby of the Koppers Building is one of our richest Art Deco interiors, and here it is decorated for Christmas.

  • Elevator Door in the Koppers Building

  • Letterbox in the Koppers Building

    Letterbox in the Koppers Building

    The brass letterbox in the lobby of the Koppers Building (now called Koppers Tower, because every Building became a Tower while you weren’t looking) is a stylized model of the Koppers Building itself.

  • Interior of First Baptist Church at Night

    First Baptist Church, Pittsburgh

    First Baptist Church, built in 1912, was designed by Bertram Goodhue, one of America’s greatest Gothic architects, and also the designer of the Cheltenham typeface, familiar today as the headline face of the New York Times. The Perpendicular Gothic interior includes one of the most visually beautiful sets of organ pipes in the city. At night everything takes on an added air of ancient mystery.

    Organ pipes
    Diagonal view
  • Warwick House, Squirrel Hill

    Stairwell window

    Warwick House was built in 1910 for Howard Heinz, son of the ketchup king H. J. Heinz. The architects were Vrydaugh and Wolfe, and the construction budget was $75,000. After the Heinzes it passed through the Hillmans, and now it belongs to the Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh, from which it is rented by Opus Dei, the Catholic organization famed for its albino assassins. But the organization seldom sends the assassins out against anyone but renowned curators; the rest of us are quite safe. At an open house this summer, old Pa Pitt was graciously allowed to take a few pictures of the beautifully maintained Jacobean interior. Above, the window in the grand staircase.

    Front of the house

    This picture of the front is not the best; the light was from the wrong direction. It means we will have to return soon at a different time of day.

    Front door

    The front door.

    Front hall

    The front hall; the door to the library is on the right, the grand staircase on the left.

    Decorative woodwork

    A little bit of the decorative woodwork in the front hall.

    Grand staircase

    The grand staircase.


    Modern American houses forget about the ceiling, as if people never looked up. Warwick House does not make that mistake. This is the decorated ceiling in a side hall.


    The former ballroom was converted into a chapel by the late Henry Menzies, an ecclesiastical architect whose specialty was refurbishing modernist churches of the 1960s and 1970s to make them suitable for liturgical worship. He liked to use a baldacchino to give proper emphasis to the altar. (The ballroom was added to the house later, probably in 1929 according to the current residents.)

    Ceiling of the ballroom

    The ceiling of the ballroom.

  • Interior of Trinity Cathedral

    Interior of Trinity Episcopal Cathedral, Pittsburgh

    Trinity Episcopal Cathedral was built in 1872 from a design by Gordon W. Lloyd, an English-born Canadian architect who was popular among Episcopalians. The view above is made up of three pictures to give us a broad view of the nave.

    This is the third church for this congregation. The first was the “Round Church,” built at about the time the streets were laid out in their present plan in 1785. (It was actually an octagon—one of the first generation of odd-shaped buildings caused by the colliding grids along Liberty Avenue.) The second was a brick Gothic church built in 1824.


    Note the divided pews, which are the original furniture from 1872. At the time this church was built, churches were generally funded by pew rents. Your family would rent a particular section, and that was where you sat every Sunday.

    End of a pew

    The number on the end of the pew identifies your section. When Father Pitt visited, the dean of the cathedral, the Very Reverend Aidan Smith, was kind enough to bring out a precious historical artifact: a pew chart of the previous church marked with the prices for each section. The closer to the front (and the more visible) the pew, the more it cost per annum. He explained that this cathedral stopped the practice of pew rents in the 1930s, after receiving a large legacy on the condition that pew rents would be stopped. (In addition to funding the church, they were a good, but arguably un-Christian, way of keeping out the undesirable poor.)

    Interior, diagonal view