The back entrance to the City-County Building would seem spectacular if we didn’t know what the front looked like. Below, the building seen from Ross Street.
Back of the City-County Building
W. W. McBride Paper Company Ghost Signs
The seven-storey building at the corner of Ross Street and Third Avenue was the home of the W. W. McBride Paper Company. Multiple layers of painted signs make it hard to read any one of them, but the name “W. W. McBride” is clear enough.
The Century Cyclopedia of History and Biography of Pennsylvania (1904) has an extensive biography of William Wilson McBride, and we quote the part that has to do with the firm and the building:
In 1890 Mr. McBride bought a half interest in the well-established paper business of Morrison, Cass & Company, of Pittsburg, which owned large paper mills at Tyrone, Pennsylvania. The other half interest was retained by John Cooper, of Pittsburgh, who had been a member of the original firm, and the business was carried on under the name of Cooper & McBride. After four years Mr. McBride bought out his partner and became the sole proprietor, operating under the title of W. W. McBride & Company. In June, 1902, the business was incorporated as the W. W. McBride Paper Company. During 1901 he built a fine seven-story brick building at the corner of Ross Street and Third Avenue, containing the offices, sales department, and storage rooms.
By 1923, according to the Pittsburgh Historic Maps site, the McBride Building had become the Bowman Building, so these signs must all date from before that time.
Bridge of Sighs
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.
Demmler Bros. Building
Demmler Bros. (now Demmler Machinery) built its headquarters in the Romanesque style that was very popular for warehouses and industrial buildings; for other examples, see the Standard Sanitary Manufacturing Company Warehouse and the B. M. Kramer & Company Building. The company has moved to the suburbs, but ghost signs still betray the origin of the building.
Demmler Bros. Building
Demmler Brothers was founded in 1861, and the company (now in Cuddy) is still in business today. The ghost of its name is just barely visible on the front of its old headquarters at 100 Ross Street, and on the back of the building we can see layers of ghost signs advertising enameled ware, refrigerators, and stoves.