Obviously built together, these two houses on Sarah Street have had their separate adventures. The one on the right has had its third-floor false balcony filled in to give an upstairs bedroom a little more space; the one on the left has grown an aluminum awning (because it is the South Side, after all). But both retain most of their original details, which are fairly unusual, a sort of Queen Anne interpretation of French Second Empire.
Pair of Queen Anne Rowhouses, South Side
Macbeth House, Shadyside
Built in the 1880s, this fine Queen Anne house shows up in 1890 as belonging to Mrs. Geo. A. Macbeth. The variety of masses and textures is handled with remarkably good taste.
Shady Avenue Cumberland Presbyterian Church
Now known as Shady Avenue Christian Assembly, after having spent many years as Shady Avenue Presbyterian Church (without the “Cumberland”).
Just down the street from the huge and spectacular Calvary Episcopal and Sacred Heart Catholic churches, each the size of many a cathedral, this 1889 church is likely to pass unnoticed. Once you do notice it, though, you will not stop noticing it. It is a bravura performance in a sort of Queen Anne Romanesque style by a Victorian architect who was about 22 years old at the time, and who was not afraid to pull out all the stops and stomp on the pedals for all he was worth. An entire issue of the East Ender, the East End Historical Society’s newsletter, was devoted to the architect, T. C. McKee (PDF), and we take all our information from Justin P. Greenawalt with profound gratitude for his research.
Thomas Cox McKee (usually known as T. C. McKee) was apprenticed to architect James W. Drum. But in 1886, when young McKee was still only 20, his master was run over by a freight train. Instead of looking for another apprentice position, McKee went out on his own and seems to have been successful right away. He later built a comfortable practice designing homes for the wealthy and small to medium-sized commercial buildings, along with at least one prominent school (the Belmar School in Homewood, still standing). Then, in 1910, he threw it all away and went to Cleveland, where he took odd jobs until he settled down as a designer of soda fountains. No one seems to know what happened, although Mr. Greenawalt’s article hints that it might have had something to do with McKee’s constitutional extravagance.
That extravagance comes through in every detail of this building. In the age of modernism, this sort of thing was dismissed as a bunch of Victorian noise, but the masses are balanced to form interesting compositions from every angle.
The much more conventional 1911 addition (although even it is a little bit fantastical) was designed by Rodgers & Minnis. Below we see it across the pile of dirt that used to be Shady Hill Center until the property became too valuable to host a suburban-style strip mall.
Queen Anne House on Neville Avenue
Another remnant of the time when Neville Avenue, now part of the apartment district on the border of Oakland and Shadyside, was a suburban retreat for the well-to-do. In spite of the fire escapes and the loss of its front porch, this house preserves most of its fine detailing, including its exceptionally tall windows.
Victorian House on Mount Washington
With its steeply pitched roof and calculated asymmetry, it would probably be legitimate to call this house Queen Anne style. Note the gingerbreading of the porch roof.
The Wigman House and Its Neighbor, Carrick
The Wigman House, at the corner of Brownsville Road and the Boulevard, Carrick, is a splendid example of Victorian woodwork, and it will not surprise you to discover that it was built for a prosperous lumber dealer. Carrick is very proud of this house, which some years ago was rescued from possible demolition. “This is our Crown Jewel Victorian and is the last standing example of our past,” says the Carrick-Overbrook Wiki on a page last edited in 2013. “Because the popularity of high Queen Anne Style waned in the early 1900s this house is the only example of that architectural style existing in the immediate area.” The page reprints a 2010 article by Diana Nelson-Jones from the Post-Gazette, which repeats the claim, calling the house “the last of the grand Victorians remaining on the main drag.”
But old Pa Pitt is delighted to report that this is not so. In fact the Wigman House’s neighbor three doors up Brownsville Road is older, larger, and also Queen Anne in style.
This is not a very good picture, and old Pa Pitt will try to do better the next time. But you can see what Father Pitt immediately noticed when he glanced at the house from across the street in the South Side Cemetery: the unmistakable shape of a Queen Anne mansion. The third floor has been altered a bit; that gable would have had some ornate woodwork, probably some curved surfaces with wood shingles, and possibly a balcony (note, in the shadows to the left, the charming little side balcony on the third floor). But the typical Queen Anne outline of this fine brick Victorian has not changed since it was built. Some relatively minor restorations in that third-floor gable would bring back all its Victorian splendor.
The Wigman House was built in 1902, according to the wiki page. The brick house above was built in the 1880s; it appears on the 1890 maps of Carrick.
Of course the Wigman House, with its corner turret and well-preserved woodwork, is a remarkable house. But it is a great pleasure to point out its distinguished older neighbor to the history-lovers of Carrick.
Queen Anne House in Carnegie
This splendid house sits on the hill overlooking the part of Carnegie that was formerly the borough of Chartiers.
A Queen Anne Survivor on Craig Street
Among the institutional buildings and skyscraper apartments on Craig Street are a few domestic survivors of old Bellefield, the pleasant suburban village that occupied the eastern part of Oakland. Here is one of them, a fine Queen Anne house that has lost very little of its original splendor. It now houses the Tamarind Indian restaurant.
The richly decorated front gable is especially worth noting.
A bit of carving picked out by a very long lens.
The sub-gable over the side bay was richly decorated as well. Note the many textures that come together here: roof shingles (they would have been slate originally), wooden shingles, carved wood, wavy board siding, terra-cotta frieze, decoratively textured brick.
Queen Anne House in Shadyside
A particularly fine Queen Anne style house on Morewood Avenue. The big roof reminds old Pa Pitt of turn-of-the-twentieth-century German architecture.