Tag: Renaissance Architecture

  • Glen Tenement House by Titus de Bobula, Hazelwood

    Tenement by Titus de Bobula

    This tenement house in Hazelwood was built in 1903, making it one of Titus de Bobula’s early commissions in Pittsburgh. It is very conventional for De Bobula, but it represented him in a Pittsburgh Press roundup of local architects in 1905 (“Able Architects the Authors of City’s Architectural Beauty,” April 29, 1905), where this picture was published (we regret that we have not been able to find a better copy than this ugly microfilm scan):

    From what we can see in the indistinct old photograph, the building has not changed much at all, though Gertrude Street in front of it has been regraded.

    Front view of the tenement

    The Gertrude Street face. It is likely that many of the first residents were Hungarian millworkers: that is a bit of De Bobula’s First Hungarian Reformed Church peeking out from behind the building.

    Oblique view from the south

    Entrance on the south end of the building. The entrances originally had some sort of triangular pediment or small projecting roof; the Press photo is too indistinct to make out any details, but we can see the shadow of a triangle over the entrances at both ends.

    Elizabeth Street side

    The Elizabeth Street end of the building.

  • East Liberty YMCA

    East Liberty YMCA

    This glorious Renaissance palace was built in 1910; the architect was Thomas Hannah, who also gave us the Keenan Building. It is now a hotel.

    Inscribed lunette
    Arch with decoration
  • Peoples Trust Company of Pittsburgh at Twilight

    Peoples Trust Company of Pittsburgh

    This rich little Beaux-Arts bank on Carson Street at 18th Street was built in 1902. We have a daylight picture of the Peoples Trust Company of Pittsburgh building from the same angle.

  • St. Mary’s Church, Sharpsburg

    St. Mary’s in Sharpsburg

    Detroit architect Peter Dederichs gave us this gorgeous Renaissance basilica, which is crammed into an absurdly tiny space at the foot of the bluff in Sharpsburg. The exterior hasn’t changed in any significant way since the building went up in 1916, as we can see in a cover story in Stone magazine from February of 1919. In that story we learn that the stone was Dark Hollow Gray Bedford limestone from Indiana, and it has stood up perfectly to more than a century of Pittsburgh atmosphere.

    Front of St. Mary’s Church, Sharpsburg
    Date stone

    The foundation of the congregation.

    Date stone

    The building of the church.


    Capitals of the Corinthian order.

    Rear of the church

    The apse, and an especially lush growth of utility cables.

    View of St. Mary’s from Penn Street

    Looking toward the church on Penn Street.

    St. Mary’s Church, Sharpsburg
  • Eaglemoor Apartments, Highland Park

    Eaglemoor Apartments

    These three attached units were originally named Howard, Delaware, and Norfolk, and you can still barely make out the ghosts of those names above the three entrances. They were built in 1901.

    Two of the three units have had their balconies filled in, apparently to make closets, judging by the floor plans on the Mozart Management page for the Eaglemoor. The third is almost certainly what all three originally looked like.

    Norfolk Apartments

    Some paint is being touched up along the side.

    Update: A correspondent with inside information mentions that the new paint job is meant to return the apartments to something like their original appearance. (We’ll have to come back soon to see the results.) The balconies did indeed turn into closets many years ago.

    Mozart Management has two tours of this building on YouTube:

    And here is a map.

  • Bell Telephone Exchange, Sharpsburg

    Bell Telephone exchange in Sharpsburg

    As Father Pitt has remarked before, telephone exchanges were designed to be ornaments to their neighborhoods, and the Renaissance-palace style was one of the most popular forms for them. This one is on Main Street in Sharpsburg, and it preserves its Renaissance dignity under the ownership of the successor to the Bell System.

    Bell System
    Corner view

    This blank wall on the western end of the building shows two different colors of bricks, suggesting that the building was originally one storey, with the second storey added later. That would explain the cornice at the first-floor level.


  • C. M. Schwab Industrial School, Homestead

    C. M. Schwab Industrial School

    When a new generation of architects feels utter contempt for the work of the previous generation, this is the result. Fortunately, the contempt extended to ignoring the details of the original building, which are therefore preserved, except for the loss of the cornice. Like several other previously abandoned buildings in the historic center of Homestead, this one has now found another use.


    The school was named for Charles M. Schwab, who was superintendent of the Homestead Works and later the first president of United States Steel.

  • Masonic Temple, McKeesport

    Masonic Temple in McKeesport

    An imposing presence on the McKeesport skyline, the Masonic Temple has changed very little since it was built. It has lost its cornice, which is the most vulnerable part of a Beaux-Arts palace like this, but otherwise retains most of its decorations, as we can see by comparing it to this old postcard from the “PowerLibrary” collection.

    Here are a few of those decorations close up:

    Walnut Street entrance
    From a block away

    Perhaps even more imposing from a block away.

    We’ll be seeing much more of McKeesport in the days and weeks to come. It is a city for which old Pa Pitt harbors an unreasoning love—perhaps the only kind of love McKeesport can inspire at the moment. In its day, it was a metropolis in its own right, and it was filled with the work of distinguished architects; but no city in the area has suffered more, with the possible exception of Braddock. Yet, though much has vanished, so many beautiful buildings remain that it would be possible to set up a site like Father Pitt’s just for McKeesport.

    Addendum: With a fair degree of certainty, thanks to a Press puff piece on local architects in 1905, we can identify the architect as Harry Summers Estep. “Recently, in a competition with more than a dozen other architects, he was awarded the prize for best perspective view submitted for the new Masonic temple to be built at McKeesport. The building will cost about $120,000 when completed and will be, for its size and purpose, one of the best buildings in the State.”

  • Twentieth Century Club, Oakland

    Ywentieth Century Club

    As you can see, it takes some effort to achieve this kind of symmetry in Pittsburgh, a city where the phrase “ground floor” is ambiguous at best. Pittsburgh’s premier women’s club hired Pittsburgh’s premier architect of clubs, Benno Janssen, to design this splendid Renaissance palace, built—according to the inscription—in 1930. The inscription also tells us that the club was founded in 1894. The rest (on the right) is the club motto: “Not for ourselves alone, but for the whole world.” The building now belongs to Pitt.


    Janssen liked this kind of cartouche with monogram: compare his Young Men and Women’s Hebrew Association.

    Lower entrance

    The entrance on the Bigelow Boulevard side, at lower ground level.

    Relief: Non nobis solum, sed toti mundo

    A relief over the Bigelow Boulevard entrance bears the club motto again. For context, here is an older picture from the corner of Bigelow Boulevard and Bigelow Boulevard (no one said navigating Oakland was easy); the lower entrance is behind the elegant stone wall.

    Corner view
  • The Schenley, Newly Built

    From Our Cities, Picturesque and Commercial, a souvenir book of Pittsburgh and Allegheny published in 1898, the year the Hotel Schenley was built. Except for the sensitively matched addition in the front and the loss of the cornice, the building looks much the same today.

    Note the big expanse of nothing on the hill to the right. That was still open land belonging to Mary Schenley when the hotel was built.