Tag: Modernism

  • Lillian Henius House, Highland Park

    Lillian Henius house

    Built in 1918, this very artistic house was designed for an artist by Kiehnel & Elliott, who applied everything Richard Kiehnel had learned from the German Jugendstil masters and made a kind of modernist Bavarian peasant cottage. Kiehnel & Elliott were among our most interesting early modernists; they would go on to make architectural history by introducing Art Deco to Miami.

  • The Belvedere

    The Belvedere

    Originally called the Alpine, this Renaissance-bordering-on-modern apartment building was put up in 1909 by developer John McSorley. Research by a local expert in all things McSorley shows that the architects were Perry & Thomas from Chicago, who designed many apartment buildings in Shadyside and Squirrel Hill. The rounded corner seems to have been a favorite device of theirs for a while: two other Perry & Thomas buildings on Ellsworth Avenue also have prominent rounded corners.

  • Resurrection Church, Brookline

    Resurrection Church

    If old Pa Pitt were more ambitious, he would remove those utility cables from the photograph, or from the street if he were more ambitious than that.

    Resurrection Church was built in 1939 in an interesting modernist Gothic style, anticipating the streamlined modernist Gothic that would have a brief vogue after the Second World War. This design managed to give the congregation a sumptuous Gothic interior while keeping the exterior outlines starkly simple. The main entrance, for example, is recessed far into the building, so that only by standing right in front of it can we see the elaborate Gothic tracery and inscription.

    An update: The 1939 church was designed by William P. Hutchins, who gave us many distinguished late-Gothic churches and schools, including St. Mary of Mercy downtown.

    Side entrance

    One of the side entrances.

    The Light of the World

    “Light of the World” relief over the side entrance.

    Resurrection School

    Before 1939, Resurrection Parish worshiped in the school next door, which was built in 1909. As usual, the Brookline Connection site has a thorough history of Resurrection Parish. From it we learn that the school was built in stages: the first two floors of the front were built first, with the rear and top floor added later. (Addendum: We have found that the architect of the second-floor addition was John T. Comès.1 This strongly suggests that Comès was the architect of the original building.) We are also told that the sanctuary was on the “ground floor,” but as we see from this picture, “ground floor” can be a slippery concept in Pittsburgh.

    Oblique view

    The school closed some time ago, and it is now a retirement home. Resurrection Church is now a worship site of St. Teresa of Kolkata parish, which also includes St. Pius X church in Brookline and St. Catherine of Siena in Beechview.

    1. Source: The Construction Record, January 13, 1912: “Architect John T. Comes, 1005 Fifth avenue, will be ready for estimates about January 15th on erecting a one-story brick fireproof parochial addition at Brookline, for the R. C. Church of the Resurrection, Brookline. Cost $15,000.” The original building cost $22,000. ↩︎
  • Rounded Corners in Shadyside

    Updated update: Our correspondent David Schwing has been studying the career of the developer John McSorley. See his comment below, where he identifies these as two of McSorley’s buildings. The one for which old Pa Pitt could not find a name is called the Ontario. The architects were the Chicago firm of Perry & Thomas.

    The intersection of Maryland and Ellsworth Avenues in Shadyside is flanked by apartment buildings with distinctive rounded corners. Above, the Panama. Below, a building that must have looked very modern when it was put up (in the original version of this article, we said “probably around 1920,” but it turns out to have been 1911, which makes it even more strikingly modern); it seems to have no name but its addresses. (Addendum: It was originally called the Ontario.)

  • Gateway Towers

    Gateway Towers

    It seems to old Pa Pitt that the word to describe this kind of building is “adequate.” Some modernist buildings certainly deserve to be called elegant; we need look no further than One Gateway Center in the background for an example of an elegant, even inspiring, modernist design. Gateway Towers, on the other hand, is rectangular, and once one has said that one has nearly exhausted the subject. It opened in 1964, and it must be a delightful place to live, with Point Park for its back yard and views in all directions. But it is hard to imagine anyone being inspired or delighted by this apartment tower. It was designed by Emery Roth, most of whose works are in New York; this is the only one Father Pitt knows of in Pittsburgh.