West End Methodist Episcopal Church

West End M. E. Church

In 1888 the Allegheny County Courthouse was finished, and by then its influence in Pittsburgh had already been profound. H. H. Richardson predicted, correctly, that it would be his most famous work; he died in 1886 without seeing it completed, when the mania for “Richardsonian Romanesque” in Pittsburgh was only beginning. Fortunately several competent Romanesque architects were available to supply the buildings Richardson could no longer provide.

Frank E. Alden was the Alden of Longfellow, Alden, and Harlow. Longfellow himself had trained with Richardson, and his firm was regarded as the successor to Richardson’s. Here Alden fills a very unpromising lot with a romantically Romanesque pile, built in 1888 while the last stones were still falling into place in the courthouse.

West End Methodist Episcopal Church

The church is vacant at the moment; it would make a fine studio for some prosperous artist.

West End M. E. Church

Entrance

Connoisseurs of Victorian lettering will be delighted by the inscriptions.

Inscription

Byers-Lyons House

Byers-Lyons House

If you were a millionaire in Pittsburgh in the late 1800s, of course you expected to have a mansion by Longfellow, Alden & Harlow. They were Andrew Carnegie’s favorite architects, after all. This Renaissance palace on Ridge Avenue is particularly splendid. Although it now belongs to the Community College of Allegheny County, its grand interior spaces have not been altered very much.

Arcade

The cloister-like arcade in front is one of the most striking features of the house.

Gate

This gate, which is either original or at least quite old, is kept in beautiful shape.

Holland Mansion, Oakland

Music Building, University of Pittsburgh

Now the Music Building of the University of Pittsburgh, this house (built in 1884) was a gift from his wife to the pastor of the Bellefield Presbyterian Church across the street. It is thus one of the few buildings in Oakland that predate Oakland (along with the tower of the church, which still stands beside a modern office building). It is also a lesson for clergy: if your particular sect permits marriage, it is a good idea to marry an heiress. You can see the advantages. Most pastors’ wives do not give their husbands a mansion designed by Longfellow, Alden & Harlow, and that is because most pastors do not sensibly marry heiresses as they ought to do.

Grotesque Light Fixture, Carnegie Institute

Grotesque light fixture

All the details of the Carnegie Institute buildings (designed by Longfellow, Alden & Harlow) are worth observing. Here is a light fixture held up by a splendid grotesque arm.