Tag: Long (John A.)

  • Triangular Apartment Building in Beechview

    Apartment building on Broadway, Beechview

    From Broadway this looks like an ordinary apartment building. But the architect, John A. Long,1 had an interestingly Pittsburghish problem to solve. The building is on a triangular lot with a very sharp angle—but that is only the two-dimensional aspect of the problem. In Beechview, there are always three dimensions.

    Corner of the triangle

    The third dimension is up.

    Oblique view

    The building was probably given green tiles on that projecting roofline, since Spanish Mission was a very popular style in Beechview and Dormont. The stonework is picked out in blue since a few years ago, which makes the building look cheerful. That long blue stripe on the ground floor probably marks the top of a storefront that was later converted to an apartment.

    Three buildings together

    Next door was a red-brick building that appears as “I. O. O. M.” on the 1923 map; perhaps it meant “L. O. O. M.,” and this was the original Beechview Moose lodge. The Moose now have their lodge a block down Broadway in a smaller building.

    At some time after 1923, the two buildings were connected by a very narrow filler building, which probably made three more rent-paying apartments possible:

    Filler building

    The arched doorway, with its abstract-Romanesque receding arches, adds interest to what is otherwise a plain building.

    Apartment buildings
    1. We take this information from the Construction Record, September 26, 1914. “Architect John A. Long, Machesney building, has plans for a three-story brick store and apartment building, for A. Gravaut, to be built on Baltimore and Realty avenue, at a cost of $12,000.” This would mean the building was put up in 1915 or so. Although the name doesn’t appear on any of the layers of the Pittsburgh Historic Maps site, there are enough references here and there to make it clear that Broadway was briefly called Baltimore Avenue before reverting to Broadway. The history of street names in Beechview is complicated by at least two wholesale changes just a few years apart. ↩︎
  • Grace Lutheran Church, Brookline

    Grace Lutheran Church

    Since 1959 this has been Pittsburgh Baptist Church, our first Southern Baptist congregation. But it was built in 1908 as a Missouri Synod Lutheran church, Grace Lutheran. It is perhaps Brookline’s most striking church, built in a unique variant of the Arts-and-Crafts Tudor Gothic style that was popular then. The massing of the forms is particularly pleasing.

    Pittsburgh Baptist Church
    Grace Lutheran, originally

    Addendum: The architect was John A. Long, as we discover in the Construction Record, September 16, 1911: “Martsolf Brothers, House building, have secured contract for the erection of a two-story cement stucco church and parsonage, on Pioneer avenue, Brookline, for the Grace Evangelical Lutheran Congregation. Architect John A. Long, Machesney building, prepared the plans.”

  • First German Evangelical Church, Mount Washington

    First German Evangelical Church

    Here is another church with the sanctuary upstairs, but that is only part of the story. You had to be in good shape to go to services here, because the downstairs entrance is already a full flight of steps up from the street.

    Stairways from street

    Note the direct entrance to the basement or sub-basement from the street level.

    It was not as challenging as it looks to be a member of this church, though. This is the Southern Avenue front; the back extends to Greenbush Street, with an entrance level with the sanctuary. It’s a typical Pittsburgh lot with a two-storey drop from back to front.

    Stained glass

    This stained-glass inscription over the entrance is in abbreviated German. Father Pitt reads it as “Evangelical German United Protestant Church,” but anyone who knows German abbreviations is invited to make a correction in the comments. This was a very German part of the neighborhood a hundred years ago: diagonally across the street was a Männerchor hall, now replaced by an incongruous 1960s suburban-style split-level house.


    The parsonage was built at about the same time as the church (between 1910 and 1923, according to our old maps). The style is a lightly modern arts-and-crafts interpretation of the usual Pittsburgh foursquare house.

    Addendum: It appears that the church and parsonage were built in about 1914 or shortly after, and the architect of both was John A. Long. From the Construction Record for May 16, 1914: “John A. Long, Machesney building, has been selected architect to prepare the plans for the erection of a brick church and parsonage in Mt. Washington, for the German Evangelical Protestant Congregation.” But just a week before, on May 9, 1914: “Architect H. Gilchrist, Frick building, has been selected to prepare plans for a church and parsonage, to be built on Mt. Washington, for the German Evangelical Protestant Congregation. No definite location for the building has been selected.” Since Long also appears a few months later as architect of the parsonage in particular, we are inclined to say that Long was the final choice. September 19, 1914: “Martsolf Brothers, House building, have secured the contract to build a two-story brick veneer parsonage, on Southern avenue, Mt. Washington, at a cost of $6,000, for the First German United Evangelical Protestant Congregation. Architect John A. Long, Benedum Trees building, prepared the plans.” (In the time between the listings, the Machesney Building had changed its name to the Benedum Trees Building; Long had not moved his office.)

    Meanwhile, old Pa Pitt leaves his speculation about E. V. Denick below, so that you can see how wrong he was, unless he was right.

    The former speculation: We have not yet found evidence of the architect of the church, but without a shred of documentation we are going to attribute it to E. V. Denick or Dennick (we find his name spelled both ways). His Bethlehem Evangelical Lutheran Church in Allentown is smaller, but has the same topographic problem to solve—being set into a steep hill—and solves it in a very similar way. The two churches share so many quirks of style that old Pa Pitt is inclined to say that they are the responses of the same architect to the same problem with two very different budgets. That they were both built for German congregations, and very near each other, is social evidence to add to the stylistic evidence.

    Parsonage and church