Tag: Renovations

  • A Bit of Good News on the South Side

    Woodcarvong over the door

    The big blue “CONDEMNATION” sticker appeared on a fine Italianate rowhouse in the 1100 block of Sarah Street a while ago, and old Pa Pitt decided to document the house before it vanished. You can imagine how delighted he was to find that the blue sticker is gone and the house is under renovation, with new windows installed already.

    House at 1107 Sarah

    Nothing can stop a contractor from installing Georgian-style fake “multipane” windows, which contractors think of as the mark of quality, even when they are completely inappropriate for the style of the house, and even when the “panes” are false divisions made by laying a cartoon grid over a single sheet of glass. But at least these windows are the right size for the holes, and therefore no lasting damage has been done. Father Pitt would guess that a house like this originally had two-over-two windows: see, for comparison, this house of similar age Uptown.


    The woodwork is a bit tattered, but we hope it can be preserved.


    This transom is crying out for an address in stained glass. Emerald Art Glass is only a dozen blocks away.


    Of course Father Pitt could not leave without documenting this fine breezeway.

    Front door

    Like the windows, the front door is a standard model that fits properly and could be replaced with a more appropriate style later by a more ambitious owner.

  • Mary L. Bayer House, South Side Slopes

    Just about every ugly thing that can happen to an old house has happened to this once-grand Second Empire mansion on the back end of Warrington Avenue. It has been sheathed in artificial siding. All the windows have been replaced with windows and doors in the wrong shapes. Almost all the trim has been removed (if you enlarge the picture, you can find a tiny remnant in the pediment over the front entrance). The porch has been replaced with treated lumber, which manufacturers assure us never has to be painted and therefore is always allowed to decay into even uglier colors than it was originally. The front entrance has been replaced with cheap doors from a home center.

    Yet, with all that, there is still a pleasing symmetry to the house that gives it a kind of senescent dignity. At present, it stands in a nice working-class neighborhood where houses are worthless, or at least not worth enough to make any substantial work on this one profitable. But it has a magnificent view of the city, and if someone with a little money were to adopt it, it could be remade into an attractive single-family mansion again, or a more attractive apartment house.

    Old Pa Pitt does not know the history of this house. On the Pittsburgh Historic Maps site, it first appears on the 1890 layer, suggesting that it was built in the 1880s. From then until 1923, it is marked as belonging to Mary L. Bayer or M. L. Bayer.

  • Church Converted to Alley Houses, South Side

    From the blocked-up Gothic windows and general shape, we can infer that this was a small church. But at some point not very recently it was converted to four tiny alley houses, made only slightly less tiny by the addition of what are probably kitchens on the back.

  • Strangely Altered Carson Street Victorian

    This building has had some adventures. Originally a typical Pittsburgh Romanesque commercial building, it had a radical renovation of the ground floor at some point in the Art Deco era (early enough that the entrances are still recessed from the sidewalk). Possibly at the same time, but probably later, the second and third floors were very inexpertly done over in an aggressively modernist style: the ornaments removed, the original tall windows replaced with much smaller windows, and the remaining space bricked up. Only the top remains more or less unaltered, though its ironwork date could use a bit of restoration, and the ironwork initials have left only their shadows.