This building probably dates from the 1890s, and it looks from the style as though the well-preserved painted sign may date from the same era.
The building still belongs to a kind of bank and is kept in good shape, though its ground floor was unfortunately modernized back when that seemed like a good idea.
On the back, facing traffic coming down the hill from Noblestown Road, was another sign advertising the West End Savings Bank & Trust Co., but it was later painted over with an advertisement for Heselbarths Real Estate—Insurance.
This Art Deco building probably dates from the 1930s. The sharply rectangular forms are softened and enriched by textures in terra cotta, making a composition that should please both classicists and modernists.
It seems to old Pa Pitt that the whole history of the West End is epitomized in this building.
There was a Presbyterian church on this spot more than 150 years ago, marked “Un. Presb. Ch.” on an 1872 map. It was just around the corner from another kind of Presbyterian church (which is now a garage); even today Wikipedia lists more than 45 kinds of Presbyterians in the United States, and that is after a number of mergers and consolidations. In 1890 this is marked “A. F. Pres. Ch.,” and again in about 1903; but on a 1905 map it is marked “United Presbyterian Church,” and that is as much as Father Pitt can do to sort out the history of the congregation.
At about the time of the First World War, the church had a little burst of prosperity and added this fashionable Tudor front.
Later, the congregation fizzled out, and the building was heavily altered and taken over by Ceramiche Tile. Now Ceramiche is moving to the western suburbs, and this building is up for sale.
The result is a building that—like much of the rest of the West End—is hard to sort out from both an architectural and a historical point of view. But the stone-and-half-timber front is an attractive ornament to Main Street, and we hope the building will find a sympathetic new owner.
This is about as perfect as an Art Deco storefront can get. What is especially cheering is that the ground floor is a new construction, using modern stock materials to create a storefront that matches the spirit of the rest of the building. Until a little more than twelve years ago, the ground floor had been bricked up in an unsympathetic fashion, as you can see in a 2008 image from Google Maps.
Father Pitt does not know what the initial K stands for at the top of the façade, and would be delighted to be informed.