Tag: Rowhouses

  • Columbus Avenue, Manchester

    1305 and 1307 Columbus Avenue, Manchester

    The far end of Manchester still has some work to do. A few houses have been restored; about an equal number are abandoned and condemned. A few have been restored, and then abandoned and condemned. A few have been renovated in a way that seems regrettable. We can only hope that someone will rescue the houses that need rescuing.

    Front door
    Window decoration

    It is always especially sad when we see that the last thing residents were able to do to their house was decorate it for Christmas.

    1313 Columbus Avenue

    Here we have a frame house refurbished to be habitable and comfortable. “Multipane” windows were used, of course, because is there any other kind? (Old Pa Pitt was shocked to visit a house with modern “multipane” windows and discover that the “panes” are really just cartoon lines drawn in plastic across a single sheet of glass.)


    This house suffered a fire years ago and appears to have been abandoned since then. At least some minimal work has been done to stabilize it. The dormer is distinctive; it would have been more so with its original decorative woodwork.


    We find some of the houses in better shape as we approach the western end of the street.

    1415 and 1417
    1415 and 1417
    1419 and 1421
    1421, front door
    1421, woodwork
  • A Stroll on Avery Street in Dutchtown

    617 Avery Street

    The part of Dutchtown south of East Ohio Street is a tiny but densely packed treasury of Victorian styles. Old Pa Pitt took a walk on Avery Street the other evening, when the sun had moved far enough around in the sky to paint the houses on the southeast side of the street.

    611 Avery Street
    Gable ornament on 611
    609 Avery Street
    607 Avery Street
    539 and 537 Avery Street
    527 and 525 Avery Street
    521 and 519 Avery Street
    517–511 Avery Street
    515 and 513 Avery Street

    Is this the most beautiful breezeway in Pittsburgh? It’s certainly in the running.

    507 and 505 Avery Street
    613 Avery Street
    621 Avery Street

    Cameras: Sony Alpha 3000; Canon PowerShot SX150 IS.

  • Klee Row, Allegheny West

    Klee row

    A row of identical houses put up in 1884 for Joseph Klee, a successful manufacturer of shoes and one of the founders of the Rodef Shalom congregation. The word “Klee” means “clover” in German, so, of course…


    …all the dormers have clover ornaments.


    Note the basement-level breezeway between houses, which is very unusual in Pittsburgh.

    End of the row
    One of the houses
    Fujifilm FinePix HS10.
  • A Bit of Good News from Abdell Street, Manchester

    Row of houses on Abdell Street

    A year ago we published this picture of a row of houses in Manchester, with the second from the left under sentence of condemnation after a fire. At the time we were not sure whether it would be worth enough to restore. But it has been restored, and the whole row is looking neat and attractive again:

    Row of houses restored

    You would hardly know anything had happened except for a bit of soot on the bricks, which is hardly news in Pittsburgh, and the fact that the trim has been painted black.

    1012 Abdell Street
  • A Stroll Down Beech Avenue in Allegheny West

    Porches along Beech Avenue

    Beech Avenue may be old Pa Pitt’s favorite residential street in the city. It is an eclectic mix of Victorian styles lined up on brick sidewalks, and something about it makes first-time visitors think, “I want to stay here forever.”

  • A Stony Row on Liverpool Street, Manchester

    Row at Liverpool and Fulton Streets
    Kodak EasyShare Z1285.

    This row of stone-fronted houses is a good example of late-Victorian eclecticism. The heavy rustic stone and elaborate foliage decorations say “Romanesque,” but the porch columns have “modern Ionic” capitals typical of the Renaissance. And it all works together just fine, though it might give an architectural pedant hives.

    Modern Ionic capital
    Nikon COOLPIX P100.

    The stonecarving was probably done by Achille Giammartini, who lived a few blocks away on Page Street.

    Achille Giammartini advertising his services

    Hiding in the shadows is a whimsical grotesque face that may remind us of somebody we know.

    Grotesque foliage face
    Row of stone houses
    Front door

    Note the old address, 185, carved in stone beside the door to what is now 1305 Liverpool Street. The addresses in Manchester changed at about the time Allegheny was taken into Pittsburgh.

    1301–1309 Liverpool Street, Manchester
  • 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
  • Rowhouses on Broadway

    Rowhouses on Broadway

    It sounds like a good name for a 1930s Warner Brothers musical, but we’re talking about the Broadway in Beechview, where the streetcars still run on the street. One of the characteristic forms of cheap housing in Pittsburgh streetcar neighborhoods is the rowhouse terrace, where a whole row of houses is built as one building. “This method of building three or six houses under one roof shows a handsome return on the money invested,” as an article about the Kleber row in Brighton Heights put it. In other words, here is a cheap way to get individual houses for the working classes.

    Architecturally, it poses an interesting problem. How do you make these things cheap without making them look cheap? In other words, how do you make them architecturally attractive to prospective tenants?

    In the row above, we see the simplest and most straightforward answer. The houses are identical, except for each pair being mirror images, which saves a lot of money on plumbing and wiring. The attractiveness is managed by, first of all, making the proportions of the features pleasing, and, second, adding some simple decorations in the brickwork.

    Architects (or builders who figured they could do without an architect) often repeated successful designs for cheap housing, making it even cheaper. A few blocks away is an almost identical row.

    Another row on Broadway

    The wrought-iron porch rails are later replacements, probably from the 1960s or 1970s, but the shape, size, and decorative brickwork are the same, except that here we have nine decorative projections along the cornice instead of five.

    Now here is a different solution to the terrace problem:

    Terrace on Broadway
    Another row of houses

    Here we have two rows of six houses each. Once again, the houses are fundamentally identical, except for half of them being mirror images of the other half. But the architect has varied the front of the building to make a pleasing composition in the Mission style, which was very popular in the South Hills neighborhoods in the early 1900s. Instead of a parade of identical houses, we get a varied streetscape with tastefully applied decorations that are very well preserved in these two rows.

    Incidentally, terrace houses like these look tiny from the front, but they often take full advantage of the depth of their lots to provide quite a bit of space inside. They are common in Pittsburgh because they were a good solution to the problem of cheap housing: they gave working families a reasonably sized house of their own that they could afford.

  • The Kleber Row Newly Built, Brighton Heights

    Kleber Row in 1916

    Back in October we featured a row of houses designed by T. E. Cornelius on Davis Avenue in Brighton Heights. Thanks to an alert correspondent, here is that same row from the Pittsburgh Daily Post of March 5, 1916, with a caption describing the decidedly modern effect of the style:

    The illustration shows one row of a building operation comprising four rows on Davis avenue, Northside, erected for Henry Kleber by T. Ed. Cornelius, architect. The low raking roofs and heavy square columns give a “Craftsman” effect, and the interior is carried out in a similar style. This method of building three or six houses under one roof shows a handsome return on the money invested.

    Thirteen of these houses were built on the Kleber property. The houses still stand today, and in very good shape.

    The Kleber row today

    The architect and his clients obviously considered this design a success: T. E. Cornelius duplicated it at other sites in the city. It is a backhanded compliment to Mr. Cornelius that some architectural historians have misattributed a group of them in Shadyside to the noted progressive architect Frederick Scheibler. We might pay another compliment to Mr. Cornelius by noting that, everywhere these houses appear, they are in better shape than most of Frederick Scheibler’s rowhouses of similar size and era. These houses were built cheap, but they were built to last.

  • McIntosh Row, Allegheny West

    McIntosh Row

    This row of houses is not architecturally spectacular, but it represents something important in the history of Pittsburgh. Originally built in 1865, it was restored in the 1970s by a neighborhood association. Allegheny West set an example of cooperative preservation that has made the neighborhood the attractive place to live it is today, and other neighborhoods took note.

    Perspective view

    Originally there were six of these houses. They had all decayed badly, but it was the demolition of the two on the end that provoked the Allegheny West Civic Council to act. It was one of the turning points in Pittsburgh history. Would the city become a sea of parking lots surrounding a few big attractions, or would we find clever ways to keep some of the good things we had?

    You can read the history of Allegheny West’s successes and failures on the Recent History of Allegheny West page at the Allegheny West site. The story of the McIntosh Row is in Part 5; the site design is too clever by half, so it is not possible to link to that part directly.