Tag: Romanesque Architecture

  • Bridge of Sighs

    Bridge of Sighs with bus

    The Bridge of Sighs connected the Allegheny County Courthouse with the jail across Ross Street. Now it connects the bureaucracy in the courthouse with more bureaucracy in the repurposed jail building, so that the name is just as appropriate. In the picture above, for a bit of a change of pace, old Pa Pitt gives you a bus driving away from you, which gives us a good sense of scale.

    Bridge of Sighs from the other side
    From a little farther away
  • Monumental Baptist Church, Hill

    Church from the side

    Here is an interesting example of the persistence of architectural traditions. To look at this church, you might guess that the main building dates from the 1870s or 1880s. It has the typical look of a small Pittsburgh church of that time—the shallow-pitched roof, the walls divided into sections by simple pilasters. In fact, according to the cornerstone, it was built in 1924, and “remodeled” in 1949. The “remodeling” doubtless included the Romanesque front and corner tower.

    Monumental Baptist Church
    Front
    Decorations
  • Allegheny County Courthouse and Frick Building

    Courthouse and Frick Building

    Taken on film in 1999. Note the bus coming toward you; apparently old Pa Pitt has been taking bus-coming-toward-you pictures for at least twenty-three years.

  • Congregation B’nai Israel, East Liberty

    Congregation B’nai Israel

    Henry Hornbostel designed two prominent synagogues in Pittsburgh. The still-prospering Rodef Shalom is familiar to everyone, partly because it sits at the eastern end of the Fifth Avenue monument row in Oakland and Shadyside. This one, built in 1923, is perhaps a more adventurous design. Hornbostel used old and new materials and design elements from different traditions to create a building that immediately looked as if it had been there for a millennium or more. After a few years as a school, it is now in the midst of being repurposed as apartments.

    Technically, according to the neighborhood border that goes up the middle of Negley Avenue on the city planning map, this building is in Garfield. Socially, it is more associated with East Liberty.

    B’nai Israel
    Frieze
    Entrance
    Porch
    The round part
    Another view
  • Seventh Presbyterian Church, Hill

    Seventh Presbyterian Church

    Almost certainly nothing can be done to save this grand old Romanesque church on Herron Avenue in what used to be called Minersville. It has been abandoned too long and decayed too far to be revived except by some miraculously heroic effort, and miracles like that seldom happen on the Hill, where even the New Granada Theater has been languishing abandoned for decades. But enough remains of this church that we can at least admire the architecture of it before it comes down. It was built in 1894 as the Seventh Presbyterian Church (some online sources say First Presbyterian of Minersville, but it appears that the smaller frame building that formerly occupied this site was already called Seventh Presbyterian by 1890). By 1923 it was known as the Herron Avenue Presbyterian Church. It would later be bought by the John Wesley African Methodist Episcopal Church, which was founded in 1836, but by the 2000s that congregation apparently could no longer maintain the building. Water from mine runoff was a constant problem, according to the church’s long-out-of-date Wikipedia article.

    There are pictures of the vandalized interior various places on line if you look for them. Father Pitt follows his usual policy of not trespassing, so he brings you only a few pictures of the exterior, which is an interesting kind of Romanesque verging on Rundbogenstil—a word old Pa Pitt uses at every opportunity, because he likes to say it.

    John Wesley A. M. A. Zion Church
    Front
    Ornament at the peak of the tower

    An iron ornament at the pinnacle of the main tower.

    With a tree
    From Wylie Avenue
  • St. Luke’s English Evangelical Lutheran Church, Lafayette Hilltop

    St. Luke’s Evangelical English Lutheran Church

    This fine building, put up in 1912, is well preserved but unused, and we hope it can be kept in good shape. It sits in the Perry Hilltop part of Lafayette Hilltop—“Perry South” on city planning maps. It was designed by Chancey or Chauncey W. Hodgdon (we have found the name spelled both ways), in an interesting combination of styles—round arches for the smaller windows, broad Gothic arches for the large windows, and a Tudor Gothic arcade in the front; except that the arches are more rounded than usual Tudor arches. Perhaps an architectural historian can nail down the style precisely, or perhaps it is simply unique to Hodgdon.

    Arcade
    Front
    Date stone

    The Allegheny City Society has a substantial article about this church in the spring 2017 issue of the society newsletter (PDF).

    With a utility pole
  • Allegheny City Electric Station

    Allegheny City Electric Station

    In 1889 the whole idea of a power station was new. What should it look like? Obviously it should be elegantly proportioned, because we don’t want to give the neighbors any more reason than they already have to object to the death rays we’ll be generating in there. Thus this fine example of Victorian industrial architecture, which old Pa Pitt believes was Allegheny’s first power station, and which still stands with not too many alterations just off Brighton Road on what is now for some reason called Riversea Road, though it has previously been Braddock Street and then Brocket Street.

    Date Stone

    Once there was an elegantly arched entrance, which has been replaced by a wider commercial garage door. The date is still prominent in the keystone of the arch.

    A few years later, a new building was added in quite a different style:

    Irwin Avenue substation

    This one still belongs to Duquesne Light and is still called the Irwin Avenue Substation, in spite of the fact that Irwin Avenue has been Brighton Road for many years now. The style is impossible to pin down: the tall rounded arches and flared buttresses make us think of a Norman castle, and the pointed Tudor arch in the middle makes us think of a Norman castle that had passed into the hands of an Elizabethan landowner who placed more value on being able to drive a showy carriage through his gate than being able to defend his castle.

  • Maginn Building

    Maginn Building

    The Maginn Building was put up in 1891, just three years after H. H. Richardson’s Allegheny County Courthouse opened. Even before the courthouse was finished, it had already created a mania for the “Richardsonian Romanesque” style in Pittsburgh, and the versatile Charles Bickel was happy to come through for any client who wanted an impressively Romanesque building.

    Foliage
    Decoration
    Top of the building
    From Seventh Avenue
  • Granite Building

    The German National Bank Building, which later took on the name “Granite Building,” was designed by Charles Bickel. It opened in 1890 as one of the wave of Romanesque buildings that followed H. H. Richardson’s County Courthouse. Mr. Bickel pulled out all the stops and used every texture of which stone is capable. To modern eyes it may almost look random, but after one’s eye has been trained to the Victorian Romanesque, the care with which the elements are balanced becomes apparent.

  • Conestoga Building

    Designed by Longfellow, Alden, and Harlow, this was our first steel-cage building and thus the seed from which dozens of skyscrapers grew.