The imposing Tudor or Jacobean Gothic front of this church is its most impressive feature, with twin towers that make the church seem bigger than it is. The large stained-glass window in the center seems a little undersized for the building, leaving an awkward blank space above it; but that is a minor quibble, and this is a fine building kept in good shape by its congregation.
Jacobean Gothic is filtered through an Art Deco lens in this building from 1927, which has been sympathetically modernized with current materials that fit with and emphasize its distinctive character. The original terra-cotta ornaments have been lovingly preserved. This is a good example of how a commercial building can be brought up to date with good taste on a limited budget. Old Pa Pitt has not been able to determine what the building’s original name was; it now belongs to an organization for senior citizens.
Father Pitt knows how his readers appreciate a good utility cable, so here is a fine closeup of one, unfortunately marred by a date stone in the background.
Now called just 606 Liberty Avenue, this was once a high-class department store. The odd-shaped building was designed by MacClure & Spahr, who gave us many distinguished buildings downtown. The odd shape was forced on this one by the oblique angle of the intersection of Liberty and Oliver Avenues. That last block of Oliver Avenue was later filled in to make PNC Plaza, but this building memorializes the intersection that used to be.
The front on both streets is covered—perhaps the appropriate word is festooned—with terra-cotta decorations. The style is a kind of fantasy Jacobean Renaissance, with wide arches coming to a very shallow not-quite point. Old James I only wished he could have buildings like this in his realm.
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.
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.
The front door.
The front hall; the door to the library is on the right, the grand staircase on the left.
A little bit of the decorative woodwork in the front hall.
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.)
A typical courtyard apartment building in a corner of Mount Lebanon that is full of small to medium-sized apartment buildings. This one is in a simple but attractive Jacobean style, where a few effective details carry all the thematic weight.
This small skyscraper was not originally built as a skyscraper. The first part of it was put up in 1907; in 1917 five more storeys were added (very skillfully, we might add), bringing the building just about high enough to qualify as a small skyscraper in old Pa Pitt’s admittedly fluid definition of the term. The architects both times were MacClure & Spahr, who also gave us the Union National Bank Building and the Diamond Building, among others. Since 1952, this building has belonged to the city, which calls it the John P. Robin Civic Building.
Harry Darlington built this house in 1908 for his son, Harry Darlington Junior. The son’s house was two doors down from the father’s (separated by the widow Holmes’ house), but the two houses could hardly be more different in style. Where the father’s is tall, narrow, and massive, this is (comparatively) low and spreading. The architect was George S. Orth, who also designed the William Penn Snyder house a block away on Ridge Avenue.
Benjamin Franklin Jones, Jr., was the Jones of Jones & Laughlin, the steel conglomerate. This 42-room Jacobean mansion was designed by Rutan & Russell. Like most of the ultragazillionaires’ mansions in Allegheny West, it now belongs to the Community College of Allegheny County.