Tag: MacClure & Spahr

  • Coraopolis YMCA

    Coraopolis YMCA

    Now the Historic State Avenue Apartments, this old YMCA was designed by MacClure & Spahr and built in 1910. The style is a rich Georgian that makes the place look like a high-class resort hotel.

    Composite view of the front

    Even the alcoves for trash and utility equipment have a rich Colonial look.

    Coraopolis YMCA

    Cameras: Canon PowerShot SX150 IS; Fujifilm FinePix HS10.

  • Acheson House, Shadyside

    Acheson House

    An elegant Tudor or Jacobean mansion designed by MacClure & Spahr and built in 1903, as the dormer tells us. This Post-Gazette story (reprinted in a Greenville, North Carolina, paper that does not keep it behind a paywall) tells us that a 1925 addition was designed by Benno Janssen, who had worked in the MacClure & Spahr office and may have had some responsibility for the original design. The article also tells us how vandals masquerading as interior designers rampaged through the house and painted all the interior woodwork white or pale grey to “banish dark wood,” but at least the exterior is in good shape.

    Dormer with the date 1903
    Perspective view of the house
    Side of the house

    Cameras: Nikon COOLPIX P100; Kodak EasyShare Z1285.

  • Some Houses on Bigelow Boulevard, Schenley Farms

    Ledge House

    As we mentioned before, we are attempting to photograph every house in the residential part of Schenley Farms. Here is a big album of houses on Bigelow Boulevard, which becomes a residential street as it winds through the neighborhood. Above, Ledge House, the strikingly different home of A. A. Hamerschlag, the first director of Carnegie Tech (now Carnegie Mellon University). It was designed by Henry Hornbostel, who designed the Carnegie Tech campus and taught at Carnegie Tech. It has recently been cleaned of a century’s worth of industrial soot and restored to its original appearance.

    Ledge House
    4107 Bigelow Boulevard

    Above and below, the D. Herbert Hostetter, Jr., house, architects Janssen and Abbott. Benno Janssen and his partner abstracted the salient details of the Tudor or “English half-timber” style and reduced it to the essentials, creating a richly Tudory design with no wasted lines.

    4107 Bigelow Boulevard

    Because we have so many pictures, we’ll put the rest below the metaphorical fold to avoid weighing down the front page here.

  • Top of the Diamond Bank Building

    Lion on the Diamond Bank Building

    Banks and lions go together all over Pittsburgh, and the top of the Diamond Bank Building, an early skyscraper designed by MacClure & Spahr, has a copper cornice bristling with lion heads.

    Top of the Diamond Bank Building
  • Langley High School, Sheraden

    Langley High School

    This school began in 1923 as Sheraden High School, then was renamed Langley. It is now an elementary and junior high school. The architects were MacClure & Spahr, whose instinct for late English Gothic made it a memorable Tudor palace.

    Long wall
    Another entrance
  • Dilworth, Porter & Co. Office

    Dilworth, Porter & Co. office

    This fine Jacobean office in the forgotten industrial back streets of the near South Side is certainly the work of a distinguished architect or architects, but old Pa Pitt has not been able to find a name with the limited research he was able to do. He is therefore going to go far out on a limb and attribute it to MacClure & Spahr, because it is just their sort of thing.

    Dilworth, Porter & Co. made railroad spikes and other things you would need if you were putting a railroad together. The company later became part of Republic Steel, and the plant was closed in 1950. It is now the M. Berger Industrial Park, with the old industrial sheds behind this office painted in garish colors. (Update: A reader very reasonably questions the use of the word “garish”—see the comment below—and perhaps “cheerful” would have been better. The point is that the colors are extraordinarily bright and seldom seen on old industrial buildings like these.)



  • Adding Five Stories to an Eight-Story Office Building in Pittsburgh

    We’ve mentioned before that the Jones & Laughlin Headquarters Building was expanded upward by five floors almost a decade after it was built. It seems that the expansion was planned and provided for from the beginning, which explains how the architects, MacClure & Spahr, managed it so neatly. The Engineering News for January 18, 1917, gives us the technical details of how it was done, and includes a picture of the back of the building with the construction in progress.

    Adding Five Stories to an Eight-Story Office Building in Pittsburgh

    An extension of five stories—planned at the time the structure was erected to its original height of eight stories—has just been added to the Jones & Laughlin Steel Co. office building in Pittsburgh. In the original construction the floorbeams of the ninth floor had been put in place and used to support a temporary roof, and the columns had been provided with splices to take the future extensions. When the addition was begun, holes were cut through the roof to enter the columns, and then these holes were housed around to keep out the rain. A stiffleg derrick hoisted the steel and then erected it.

    To give access to the portion of the floor lying between the stifflegs, the loads were temporarily landed at the extreme swing of the boom. The boom was then passed back of a disconnected stiffleg and proceeded with the erection after the stiffleg had been replaced.

    The old roof was wrecked as soon as the tenth-floor slabs and the new side walls of the ninth floor were in place. The floor was maintained in a fairly water-tight condition. It had originally been intended to require that the new roof be placed before the old was removed.

    All materials other than steelwork, including concrete and débris from the old roof and cornice, were handled in the construction elevator at the rear of the building. Floors were built on the Witherow system, with removable steel centers on which were cast a beam-and-slab floor framing into the steel floorbeams.

    McClure & Spahr were the architects, and James L. Stuart was the contractor.

    So MacClure & Spahr had to design a building that would look finished at two different heights, which they managed with elegance and finesse. It is now the John P. Robin Civic Building, and the exterior is almost perfectly preserved.

  • Meyer Jonasson & Co. Building

    File:Meyer Jonasson & Co. building

    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.

    Terra-cotta olive and oak and acanthus
    More terra cotta
    Terra cotta
    Lion head
    Light fixture
    Reflections of the arches

    The arches reflected in Two PNC Plaza next door.

    From the sidewalk on the same side of the street
  • Top of the Keystone Bank Building

    Keystone Bank Building

    The lower floors of this remarkable 1903 bank tower by MacClure and Spahr have been mutilated by modern additions, but from a block away on Forbes Avenue all we can see is the unmutilated top of the building, with its distinctive arched light well.

  • The Liberty Elementary School, Shadyside

    A school built in 1911 in the fashionable Tudor Gothic style. The elegant lettering of the inscription is worthy of imitation.