Tag: Romanesque Architecture

  • Victorian Commercial Building in the West End

    An eclectic commercial block on the steep slope of the last block of Wabash Street, this building was probably put up in the 1890s.

  • St. Josaphat’s Church, South Side Slopes

    Tower of St. Josaphat’s through autumn leaves
    St. Josaphat’s Church

    St. Josaphat’s is one of the most unusual of John T. Comès’ works. It has some of his trademarks, notably the stripes—he loved stripes. But it also takes more inspiration from Art Nouveau than most of his churches, which are usually more firmly rooted in historical models. It is now having some renovation work done to fit it for its post-church life.

    St. Josaphat’s Church
  • Railroad YMCA, McKees Rocks

    Railroad YMCA, McKees Rocks

    The Pittsburgh and Lake Erie Railroad had its shops just down the hill from this building, so here is a railroad men’s YMCA, now turned into an office building.

    Inscription: Railroad Young Mens Christian Association


    The inscription was probably spelled out in bronze letters; when they were removed, they left legible ghosts behind.

    Cornerstone: 1905

    The cornerstone tells us that the building was put up in 1905.

    Architectural rendering of the front of the building
  • Engine House, Marshall-Shadeland

    Firehouse at Shadeland Avenue and Dickson Street

    This Romanesque—or shall we say Rundbogenstil? Because we like to say “Rundbogenstil”—firehouse was built for the city of Allegheny, probably in the 1890s to judge by our old maps. The alterations since then can be explained by the fact that a firehouse is basically a men’s club, and men’s clubs in Pittsburgh gradually fill in their windows and block as much natural light as they can. It does make one wonder what they expect to do with that tower now, but perhaps firemen have secret initiation rituals for which a dark tower is the ideal setting.

    Firehouse from the engine end
  • Trinity German Evangelical Lutheran Church, Franklin Park

    Trinity German Evangelical Lutheran Church

    This little country church is now surrounded by suburbs, though there are still farms nearby. The date stone on the front of the building tells us it was built in 1868.

    Deutsche Evangelisch Lutherische Dreisallinkeits Kirche 1868
    From the side
    From the rear
    Cupola again
    Front of the church
    Trinity Lutheran Church, Franklin Park
  • Carved Ornaments on Bellefield Presbyterian Church

    Stone head from the side

    Originally the First United Presbyterian Church, this congregation merged with the Bellefield Presbyterian Church down the street, which sold its building (of which only the tower remains) and moved here, with the compensation that this church was renamed Bellefield Presbyterian. The building, designed by William Boyd and built in 1896, is festooned with a riot of carved Romanesque ornaments.

    Bellefield Presbyterian Church
    Ornaments around the door
    A different cherub
    Yet another cherub
    Cherub again

    Each one of these cherubs has a different face and different ornamental carving surrounding it.

    Different capitals
    Angled frieze
    Winged cherub head
    Another face
    Bellefield Presbyterian Church
  • St. Rosalia School, Greenfield

    St. Rosalia School

    A. F. Link designed this Romanesque school in 1912, a little more than a decade before he designed the magnificent church beside it. This design already shows Link’s trademark habit of abstracting and modernizing historic forms: here he combines a hint of Romanesque with some very Jugendstil abstract patterns in the brickwork.

    Fortunately the building has been sold to Yeshiva Schools, so it will not be abandoned to rot the way so many Catholic schools have been.

    Front of the school
  • St. Martin’s Rectory, West End

    St. Martin’s Rectory

    Our great ecclesiastical architect John T. Comès designed a fine church for St. Martin’s parish in the West End, but the church was demolished long ago. The rectory, however, remains, and it is a remarkable piece of work itself. We might call it Romanesque, or Art Nouveau, or Arts-and-Crafts, or perhaps even Rundbogenstil. Father Pitt is tempted, however, to call it Pre-Raphaelite. It reminds him of Pre-Raphaelite paintings; we can imagine it as a backdrop for figures by Burne-Jones.

    Date stones with A. D. 1911
    Ornamental tiles

    The rich colors and deliberately handmade look of these ornamental tiles add considerably to the effect of the façade.

    Oblique view
    Side view
    Front view
  • The Corner of Carson and 24th, South Side

    Building at Carson and 24th, South Side

    For most of the history of the South Side, this corner at 24th and Carson was the gateway to the long Carson Street retail district. Further out there were a few shops and (especially) bars, but the looming mass of the steel mill dominated the streetscape. Now, of course, the SouthSide Works (spelled with internal capital, which is not old Pa Pitt’s fault) development that replaced the mill has extended the retail district by several more blocks, but this building still marks an obvious break between the new and the old.

    The rounded corner is distinctive and emphasizes the building’s function as a gateway. The proper inset entrance not only makes the storefront look characteristically Victorian, but also still fulfills its purpose of not hitting pedestrians in the face with a swinging door—a purpose we have unaccountably forgotten in our modern storefronts. One would think a few lawsuits by pedestrians with broken noses would establish a design precedent, but apparently that has not happened.

    Storefronts on Carson Street
  • St. Rosalia Church, Greenfield

    St. Rosalia Church

    Designed by A. F. Link, this Romanesque church was begun in 1923 and opened in 1925. The style is transitional: it uses traditional Romanesque elements, but it is already veering toward the Art Deco modernist interpretation of those elements that would become common in the 1930s through the 1950s.


    The cross at the top of the (liturgical) west front sets the modernist tone for the decorations.

    West Front of St. Rosalia

    These abstract capitals continue the streamlined modernist theme, as do the three lunettes (Mary, Jesus, Joseph) on the west front:

    Lunette with Mary
    Lunette with Jesus
    Lunette with Joseph
    Rose window

    Though it is a complex design, the rose window echoes the streamlining of the capitals and other details.

    Oblique view of the church

    In contrast to the Deco streamlining of the front, the side of the church, with its crenellations and complex brickwork, could almost pass for a middle-1800s church by Charles F. Bartberger. Yet the styles fit together; there is no dissonance between the different views of the church.

    For those who are interested, here is a Pittsburgh Catholic article published March 27, 1924, that identifies many of the contractors and artists who worked on the church.

    Imposing New Church of Saint Rosalia Is a Token of Parish Progress and Triumph of Architects and Builders