This pair of Italianate houses dates to the 1870s. Like many other houses around here, these have made some extreme adaptations to Pittsburgh topography. Some fake siding has been added on the dormers, and the porch has probably been rebuilt more than once, but the general aspect of these houses probably hasn’t changed much in a century and a half.
This Italianate house has been altered to make it into a duplex, and it is continuing its adventures. That rectangular front window on the filled-in section was added only this past year. But the rest of the house looks very much the way it did when it was built in the 1870s or thereabouts.
The two sides of this duplex, which probably dates from the 1870s or 1880s, have gone their separate ways, but the whole building is well preserved. The demolition of a badly mutilated house next door gives us a chance to appreciate some of the details on the side of the house.
This rear view shows us a very inartistic addition to the third floor of one side, which is fortunately invisible from the front.
We have a good number of houses from a century and a half or more ago, but very few public buildings remain in Pittsburgh from the Civil War era. Here is one. This Odd Fellows Hall was built in 1865, when the West End was Temperanceville. It seems to have been extended by one bay on the right not long after it was built.
It seems to old Pa Pitt that this ought to be one of our high preservation priorities. It is nearly unique in being a secular public building from the middle nineteenth century; Pittsburgh’s prosperity and rapid growth meant that most others were replaced by bigger ones around the turn of the twentieth century. It is also in very good historical shape: aside from the mutilated ground floor, it is in very close to original condition. But it is in a neglected neighborhood where it could not yet be turned into profitable loft apartments, in spite of ongoing efforts to turn the West End into an artsy village.
This building inspires Father Pitt to imitate the International Union for the Conservation of Nature and classify our vulnerable landmarks in six categories: Least Concern, Near Threatened, Vulnerable, Endangered, Critically Endangered, and Demolished. We shall call this building Vulnerable, because it is a large building in a neglected neighborhood, on a street where a majority of the buildings have been demolished.
Seen from the Birmingham Bridge, this row of Italianate storefronts retains most of its Victorian magnificence, although the newer windows blight the one on the end.
The big blue “CONDEMNATION” sticker appeared on a fine Italianate rowhouse in the 1100 block of Sarah Street a while ago, and old Pa Pitt decided to document the house before it vanished. You can imagine how delighted he was to find that the blue sticker is gone and the house is under renovation, with new windows installed already.
Nothing can stop a contractor from installing Georgian-style fake “multipane” windows, which contractors think of as the mark of quality, even when they are completely inappropriate for the style of the house, and even when the “panes” are false divisions made by laying a cartoon grid over a single sheet of glass. But at least these windows are the right size for the holes, and therefore no lasting damage has been done. Father Pitt would guess that a house like this originally had two-over-two windows: see, for comparison, this house of similar age Uptown.
The woodwork is a bit tattered, but we hope it can be preserved.
This transom is crying out for an address in stained glass. Emerald Art Glass is only a dozen blocks away.
Of course Father Pitt could not leave without documenting this fine breezeway.
Like the windows, the front door is a standard model that fits properly and could be replaced with a more appropriate style later by a more ambitious owner.
A row of fine Victorian houses on Penn Avenue in Garfield (Bloomfield according to city planning maps, because Penn Avenue is the neighborhood line, but Pittsburghers have always called both sides of Penn “Garfield”). Note the splendid tall parlor windows on the one above, which also has some particularly good gingerbreading.
A splendid Italianate house, splendidly restored, complete with tower to keep an eye on one’s neighbors, as one had to do in the Italian Renaissance.
The current owners’ attention to detail includes proper fabric awnings for the porch.
An unusually attractive building on Butler Street at the corner of Main Street. Note the folk-art wood carving in the trim.
A modest church from 1925 in an unusual Spanish Mission style. That style was very popular for houses and apartments in the 1920s, but in Pittsburgh it is seldom found in churches.
The well-preserved, though somewhat bedraggled, Italianate house next door is also worth noting.
Addendum: The architects of the church were Sharove & Friedman, who were more used to synagogues than churches—they worked with Henry Hornbostel on the Congregation B’nai Israel synagogue. Without the tower, this would look very much like a modest synagogue. Source: The American Contractor, September 8, 1923: “Church: $20,000. 1 sty. & bas. 30×70. Wylie av. & Francis st. Archt. Sharove & Friedman, Berger bldg. Owner The Trinity African Meth. Episcopal Congr., Rev. G. F. Williams, 2704 Wylie av. Brk. walls. Drawing plans.”