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.

Conestoga Building

Conestoga Building

This was a very tall building when it opened in 1892. It’s certainly stretching a point to call this a skyscraper, yet it is in some ways the seed of all subsequent skyscrapers in Pittsburgh. This was the first building in Pittsburgh, and one of the first in the world, built with steel-cage construction, which makes practically indefinite height possible. Below we see the Conestoga Building with a couple of its great-grandchildren behind it: One PPG Place and Fifth Avenue Place.