Tag: Spanish Mission Style

  • Some Houses on Bigelow Boulevard, Schenley Farms

    Ledge House

    As we mentioned before, we are attempting to photograph every house in the residential part of Schenley Farms. Here is a big album of houses on Bigelow Boulevard, which becomes a residential street as it winds through the neighborhood. Above, Ledge House, the strikingly different home of A. A. Hamerschlag, the first director of Carnegie Tech (now Carnegie Mellon University). It was designed by Henry Hornbostel, who designed the Carnegie Tech campus and taught at Carnegie Tech. It has recently been cleaned of a century’s worth of industrial soot and restored to its original appearance.

    Ledge House
    4107 Bigelow Boulevard

    Above and below, the D. Herbert Hostetter, Jr., house, architects Janssen and Abbott. Benno Janssen and his partner abstracted the salient details of the Tudor or “English half-timber” style and reduced it to the essentials, creating a richly Tudory design with no wasted lines.

    4107 Bigelow Boulevard

    Because we have so many pictures, we’ll put the rest below the metaphorical fold to avoid weighing down the front page here.

  • Excelsior Club, South Side

    Excelsior Club from the sidewalk
    Inscription over the door

    This little clubhouse on a narrow back street is modest to the point of shyness: you can walk right past and never notice it, partly because of the well-grown tree in front, but mostly because it is a good citizen of the streetscape. Yet it rewards a closer look. It was built in about 1914 to an Arts-and-Craftsy Spanish Mission design by Edward B. Lang. In the Construction Record, it is credited to E. M. Lang. The address, however, is right for Edward B. Lang; and that magazine is so full of misprints that one often finds an architect’s name spelled three different ways on the same page.

    Excelsior Club

    Edward Lang is an architect who is not much spoken of these days, but he had some significant buildings to his credit—St. Mark’s Church in the McKees Rocks Bottoms and the Passionist convent in Carrick, to name two. The firm of Edward Lang and Brother was quite productive in the southern city neighborhoods, the Brother being Herman Lang, who is credited with St. George’s Church in Allentown and St. Basil’s in Carrick, among many others.

    A different angle
    Excelsior Club

    For readers who are interested, here is an example of the kind of detective work old Pa Pitt does for you. Why would someone write “E. M. Lang” instead of “E. B. Lang”? The answer is obvious when we remember that the Linotype was by far the most popular machine for typesetting periodicals. The Linotype has its own keyboard arrangement, and the M and B are right next to each other, where a fumblefingered typesetter can easily hit one for the other.

    Linotype keyboard

    A Linotype keyboard. Copyright 2006 Marc Dufour for Wikimedia, CC BY-SA 2.5, via Wikimedia Commons.

  • Eclectic Styles on the North Side of Hobart Street, Squirrel Hill

    North side of Hobart Street

    Earlier we looked at the buildings on the south side of Hobart Street in this block and discovered that Spanish Mission and Tudor were the same thing, barring a few tweaks of the ornamentation. The buildings on the north side of the same block are at about the same scale, but they are a more eclectic bunch. Sometimes the individual building is about as eclectic as it can be.

    German Jacobethan Spanish Mission

    Above, for example, you see one in a style old Pa Pitt calls German Jacobethan Spanish Mission.

    Spanish Mission

    This one, on the other hand, is so thoroughly Spanish Mission that residents ought to be required to wear Franciscan tunics.

    Entrance to Hobart Commons
    Spanish Mission apartments

    The one above is quite eclectic, but it harmonizes its influences seamlessly.


    This modernized Tudor conveys its architectural message with textured and patterned brickwork as well as the usual half-timbering.

  • Spanish Mission Style in Schenley Farms

    House on Bigelow Boulevard

    Schenley Farms, the little enclave of quiet residential streets amid the bustle of the Oakland intellectual district, is an encyclopedia of housing styles from the early twentieth century. Here we have a very simple façade with elements of the Spanish Mission style: stucco (of course), an arcaded porch, tile roof, a little iron-railed balcony, and a design that turns inward, with more wall than window in front.

  • Two Kinds of Spanish Mission

    Historical Society of Mount Lebanon

    Two houses in the Spanish Mission style sit side by side on Washington Road at the southern end of the Uptown Mount Lebanon business district, and they implement the style in two interestingly different ways. This one, which is now the home of the Historical Society of Mount Lebanon, takes the style fairly seriously. A real Spanish house, in the New World or the Old, turns inward. It shuts the public out, presenting almost blank walls to the outside world. Of course Southwestern houses are also notable for their flat rooflines. In this house we have large expanses of stucco wall facing the street (although the architect has conceded some generously large front windows to Eastern sensibilities) and the flat roof characteristic of Spanish colonial architecture in the Southwest.

    The other house is much more an Eastern house with decorative borrowings from the Spanish Mission style:

    Spanish Mission house on Washington Road

    You could take the basic shape of this house and turn it into an English cottage or an Italian Renaissance palace by changing the details. The stucco, the arcaded porch, and the tile roof are the main things that carry the “Spanish Mission” message.

  • Georgian Meets Spanish Mission

    Apartment building on Academy Avenue

    You have probably never heard anyone say this before, but Father Pitt is fascinated by small apartment buildings. Larger apartment blocks are often designed by famous architects, and they may be masterpieces of their kind. But small apartment buildings sometimes preserve the adventurous whimsies of a builder who was not technically an architect but could draw a blueprint all by himself.

    Here is a good example. The third floor of this little apartment building in Mount Lebanon is typical of the Spanish Mission style that was very popular in the near South Hills in the first half of the twentieth century. But below that the details are Georgian. It would be hard to imagine a stranger clash than those two styles—and yet they work well together. Pedestrians walking by never say, “Now there is an outrageously mixed metaphor of a building.” A big-deal architect would probably never do it, but it works.