Tag: Romanesque

  • Row of Houses on North Avenue

    Row of houses on North Avenue

    These are what old Pa Pitt calls Baltimore-style rowhouses: that is, rowhouses where the whole row is built as one subdivided building right against the sidewalk (as opposed to the typical Pittsburgh terrace, where the houses are set back with tiny front yards). Since North Avenue is the neighborhood boundary on city planning maps, these fall into the “Central Northside” for planning purposes; but socially they formed part of the wealthy section of Allegheny that includes Allegheny West across the street.

    Rowhouses on North Avenue
  • Hartje Brothers Building

    Hartje Brothers Building

    The Boulevard of the Allies side of one of the side-by-side Hartje Brothers buildings. Charles Bickel designed this building and the matching one behind it on Wood Street. This was the later of the two, both built in 1902 for the Hartje Brothers Paper Manufacturing Company. Mr. Bickel was extraordinarily prolific, but old Pa Pitt thinks he deserved his success. For an interesting comparison, look at the Reymer Brothers candy factory and the Concordia Club, and see how Charles Bickel created different effects from the same basic shapes.

    One window
  • Old Hotel in McKees Rocks

    Building on Island Avenue at John Street

    Old Pa Pitt is simply guessing that this building on Island Avenue at John Street used to be a hotel, in the old-fashioned Pittsburgh sense of the term: that is, a bar with rooms for rent upstairs. The ground floor was obviously a commercial establishment of some sort, though it has been filled in and made an apartment; the location is right above the Pittsburgh & Lake Erie Railroad shops and roundhouses, making this an ideal stop for railroad men who were not virtuous enough or poor enough for the Railroad YMCA four steps away across John Street. It was built before the YMCA, probably in the 1890s. The painted billboard on the side once advertised Pittsburgh Home Savings to the traffic inbound on Island Avenue.

    Front of the building

    Whoever invented those ubiquitous front doors with the three staggered lights probably made a billion dollars and retired to the Cayman Islands.

    There are some spots in McKees Rocks where time seems to have stopped moving forward a while ago, and this building is one of them. Note the truck cab parked beside it.

    Old truck
  • Gargoyles on the Church of the Assumption, Bellevue

    Gargoyle having a bad day

    The gargoyles on the Church of the Assumption capture the true medieval spirit of inspired grotesquerie and goofiness and filter it through a twentieth-century sensibility. This gargoyle is having a bad day.

    Owl gargoyle
    Owl gargoyle

    This one on the side of the building seems to be above a chimney vent. It demonstrates, in a silly way that would have appealed to the medieval sense of humor, one of the torments prepared for the damned.

    Chimney gargoyle

    See the whole collection of the Church of the Assumption.

  • Row of Houses on 24th Street, South Side

    Row of houses on 24th Street

    Father Pitt has featured this row of modest but attractive houses with Romanesque details before, but he decided to get some better pictures of the whole row while the sun was shining on the front. The composite picture above gives us a very good impression of the row as a whole, and you will probably notice that the houses are not the same width. The two at the left are wider than the rest. You might think that meant they were bigger, perhaps designed to rent for more money, but you would be mistaken. The houses are not rectangular: 24th Street marks a kink in the street grid of the South Side. The change in width distributes the area more evenly among the houses on their trapezoidal lot: the narrower houses are also deeper.

    The houses were built as rental properties in the 1890s, to judge by the fact that they appear first on the 1903–1906 layer at the Pittsburgh Historic Maps site, all owned by one Jonathan O. Phillips, who owned the empty lot in 1890. Mr. Phillips still owned the row in 1923, the last layer on the map where property owners are marked.

    From the north end

    From the Fox Way end of the row. Note the extension behind the last house.

    Sidney Street end

    The Sidney Street end of the row, where the houses are wider but shallower: note the lack of extension behind.

    From the south
    From the parking lot across the street

    From the parking lot across the street.

  • Police Patrol Station No. 4, Oakland

    Not that long ago, this interesting Romanesque building was the King’s Court movie theater; but, as the inscription shows, it was built as a police station. From cops to movies to noodles must have been a very interesting journey. The style is Romanesque, but with the overlapping round arches that some architectural historians regard as the origin of Gothic pointed arches.

  • Fidelity Building

    If you love architecture, Fourth Avenue gives you a more varied aesthetic experience per block than any other street in the city. Here we have the Richardsonian Romanesque style as it applies to a proto-skyscraper: the Fidelity Building, designed by James T. Steen. It opened in 1889, when Richardson’s courthouse on Grant Street was brand new. Its seven floors are close to the limit for pre-steel-cage architecture. Only a year after this building opened, construction began on the Conestoga Building on Smithfield Street, the first steel-cage building in Pittsburgh.

    The photograph is huge, by the way: at full size it’s 8.88 megabytes, so don’t click on it on a metered connection. Once again, old Pa Pitt has put it together from multiple photographs, which was the only way to get the whole front of the building from across the street.

  • Shadyside Presbyterian Church

    Camera: Konica Minolta DiMAGE Z3.

    Designed by Shepley, Rutan & Coolidge, the successors to H. H. Richardson, this church has an honest Richardsonian pedigree to go with its Richardsonian Romanesque style.

    Can you tell that old Pa Pitt is enjoying his new software toy? The picture above is a wide-angle shot stitched together from nine separate photographs. The fisheye view below is stitched together from six; if you click on it, you can have it at about 38 megapixels.

    Camera: Kodak EasyShare Z1485 IS.

    Finally, here’s a picture from the north side of the church, where there is room to get far away enough to take the picture all in one shot.

    Camera: Kodak EasyShare Z1485 IS.
  • Penn Avenue Gatehouse, Allegheny Cemetery

    Old Pa Pitt has done his best to make this picture look like an old colored postcard. Henry A. Macomb won a design competition for this gatehouse, whose tower is clearly influenced by the tower of the Allegheny County Courthouse downtown. The entrance buildings were finished in 1889, just after the courthouse opened, and some last-minute changes to the tower were probably intended to make it look more like Richardson’s work on the courthouse.

    Camera: Olympus E-20n.
  • The Castle on Morewood Avenue

    The old adage that “a man’s home is his castle” is given a literalist interpretation in this Richardsonian Romanesque mansion from 1893. It stands out on a street of standout houses.