Tag: Relief

  • Bell Telephone Exchange, Allentown

    Bell Telephone exchange, Allentown, Pittsburgh

    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.

    Entrance
    Decorative relief
    Another relief
  • St. Michael’s Church and Rectory, South Side Slopes

    St. Michael‘s Church

    St. Michael’s is one of our earliest grand Romanesque churches, finished in 1861. It was designed for a German congregation by the German-born Charles F. Bartberger, who gave us a number of other distinguished ecclesiastical buildings. (He is often confused with Charles M. Bartberger, his son, who gave us a number of distinguished schools.) It was one of the first churches around here to be made into condominium apartments, so it is now preserved as the Angel’s Arms.

    Tower

    It was a rainy day today, and if you enlarge the picture you can pick out the falling raindrops.

    Door

    Note the date over this side door.

    Rectory from the front

    The rectory, which is attached to the eastern end of the church, was built in 1890 and designed by another distinguished German Pittsburgh architect: Frederick Sauer, who gave us many fine churches and the whimsical Sauer Buildings in Aspinwall. Here he has created a very German Romanesque building that harmonizes well with the older church.

    Rectory from the east
    Dome

    A very German corner dome.

    Foliage

    Exceptionally fine carved foliage at the entrance to the rectory.

  • Fifth Avenue High School

    Fifth Avenue High School

    Someone left one of those temporary storage modules in front of the building, which mars our otherwise architecturally perfect picture of the Fifth Avenue façade. There is only so much old Pa Pitt can do.

    This Flemish Gothic palace, built in 1894, was designed by Edward Stotz, who would later give us Schenley High School. His son Charles Morse Stotz was more or less the founder of the preservation movement in Pittsburgh: he wrote the huge folio The Early Architecture of Western Pennsylvania, still an invaluable reference as well as a gorgeous book. It is fitting, therefore, that the father’s great landmarks have been among our preservation success stories.

    The school was closed in 1976, and after that it sat vacant for more than three decades. A generation knew it only as that looming hulk Uptown. It is a tribute to the architect that it survived in fairly good shape. In 2009 it was finally brought back to life with a years-long restoration project that turned it into loft apartments, which sold well and suggested that there might be some potential in the Uptown neighborhood. (It certainly helped that the new arena—currently named for PPG Paints—opened at about the same time.)

    Entrance
    Ornament
    Foliage
    View along the front
    Three-quarters view
    Rear of the school
    The rear of the school, taken in January of 2021.
  • Terra-Cotta Decorations on the Buhl Building

    Terra cotta

    The Buhl Building, an earlier work of Benno Janssen, is covered with Wedgwood-style terra-cotta decorations. Below, the Market Street end of the building.

    Buhl Building
    Terra cotta
  • Mayor Guthrie

    Relief of Mayor Guthrie

    George W. Guthrie was mayor of Pittsburgh when the Keenan Building was put up in 1907, and here is his face among the terra-cotta decorations on the building, where he keeps company with other prominent men of Pittsburgh. Pittsburghers remember Guthrie as the mayor who finally engineered the successful conquest of Allegheny, so North Siders sometimes think of him the way Ukrainians think of Vladimir Putin. Perhaps his most important accomplishment, though, was clean city water that, for the first time, brought typhoid under control in Pittsburgh, where it had been a scourge for the first century and a half of the city’s existence.

  • Reliefs by John Massey Rhind on the People’s Savings Bank Building

    Relief by John Massey Rhind

    John Massey Rhind was Andrew Carnegie’s favorite sculptor; he gave us the Noble Quartet in front of the Carnegie Institute and the statue of Robert Burns outside Phipps Conservatory. Here he gives us some allegorical figures to adorn the entrances to the People’s Savings Bank’s splendid tower at Fourth Avenue and Wood Street. Not altogether coincidentally, the building itself was designed by Alden & Harlow, Carnegie’s favorite architects, whose firm (with their earlier partner Longfellow) was also responsible for the Carnegie Institute. Above, the Wood Street side; below, the Fourth Avenue side.

    Fourth Avenue side
  • Lion on the Keystone Bank Building

    Lion on the Keystone Bank

    Fourth Avenue has a denser population of lions than anywhere else in Pittsburgh, and possibly anywhere else in North America.

  • Commercial National Bank

    Commercial National Bank

    This little bank on Fourth Avenue was originally designed by Alden and Harlow. The central section has been ruthlessly mutilated, with the elegant arch replaced by a cartoon suggestion of an arch. For reasons unknown, much of the rest of the building was left untouched (although it is pretty clearly missing its top), and the details there are enough to make it worth our while to stop and admire them.

    Of course there are lions. How could there not be lions?

  • Roof Ornaments, Soldiers and Sailors Memorial

    Above, the distinctive grotesque eruption at the pinnacle of the pyramid roof. Below, the alternating eagles and torches of the cornice.

  • Green Tree, Land of the Pharaohs

    In Pittsburgh, the Egyptian style is almost always associated with the death business, so it is no surprise to learn that this little building was a monument dealer before it became Green Tree’s oddest office building. The fact that it sits directly across the road from the entrance to Chartiers Cemetery is another clue. It is right on the border of Green Tree, at the edge of a little neighborhood called Rook, which once had a station on the Wabash Pittsburgh Terminal Railway, and still has a large freight yard belonging to the Wheeling and Lake Erie Railway.