This splendid edifice cost about $100,000 when it was built in about 1905. The architects were McCollum & Dowler,1 and that Dowler is the young Press C. Dowler, who would practice architecture for two-thirds of a century and run through every style of his long lifetime, from Romanesque through Art Deco to uncompromising modernism. The building still stands today on Braddock Avenue, and the front still looks about the same.
In an out-of-the-way corner of Beechview is this particularly fine school by Press Dowler. The original part of the school was built in 1908 in the borough of West Liberty, because the line between the boroughs of Beechview and West Liberty ran right across the street grid of the developed section of Beechview. “Beechwood” was the name of the original community that became the borough of Beechview, and the company that developed the land on both sides of the border was the Beechwood Improvement Co. In 1909 the two boroughs were both annexed by Pittsburgh, and by 1922 the school was bursting at the seams. Press C. Dowler was hired to design an expansion that more than tripled the size of the school, and he came through with a magnificently ornamented building in the Tudor Gothic style that was all the rage for schools in the 1920s. It is now on the National Register of Historic Places for its architectural merit.
The name and date inscribed over one of the entrances.
The south section is the original 1908 school, but Mr. Dowler completely rebuilt the façade to match his plan for the expanded school, so that today the whole building appears to have been put up at once.
Mr. Dowler did not stint on terra-cotta decoration.
The lamp of learning.
These urns flank the entrances; old Pa Pitt suspects they were designed by the architect himself.
As a bonus for his loyal readers, old Pa Pitt includes a typically Pittsburghish cacophony of utility cables.
A particularly fine Art Deco design. Neighborhood telephone exchanges were put up all over the city, and the telephone company, which had all the money in the world, always made them ornaments to their neighborhoods. This one still belongs to the successor of the Bell Telephone Company.
Addendum: The architect was almost certainly Press C. Dowler. According to the Pennsylvania Historic Resource Survey Form for the Bell Telephone Company of Pennsylvania Western Headquarters Building, “Between 1935 and 1955, Press C. Dowler designed in excess of 60 buildings for Bell Telephone Company of Pennsylvania in the Pittsburgh region.”
This splendid Tudor Deco palace takes up a whole large city block; in fact, it’s the symbolic center of Knoxville, occupying the lot where the original W. W. Knox house stood until the early twentieth century. The school was built in stages, beginning in 1927; the Charles Street front was finished in 1935. The architects were Press C. Dowler and Marion M. Steen, and the building was placed on the National Register of Historic Places for its architectural significance, as part of a package deal with a number of Pittsburgh public schools.
The school closed in 2006. It may stand for many more years, since Knoxville is not a prosperous enough neighborhood to make it worth demolishing; but it will eventually become too dangerous to let stand, so it is in danger until another use is found for it.
The main entrance is designed to impress us with the idea that education is important but also delightful.
These shields above the entrance express an ideal of balance in public education: Art, Science, Trades, Play.
Even the side entrances are finely decorated.
A view along Charles Street.
The rear of the school along Zara Street.