Tag: Tudor Architecture

  • Thomas Pringle House, Schenley Farms

    Thomas Pringle house
    Kodak EasyShare Z1285.

    This house is not quite like anything else: it’s a little bit Tudor, a little bit Arts and Crafts, and a little bit Renaissance. Thomas Pringle, an architect whose most famous works are churches and religious institutions, designed it for himself against an improbable hillside in Schenley Farms.

    4231 Parkman Avenue
    Olympus E-20N.
    Vignette of Mercury

    This bronze medallion of Mercury sits over the front door.

    Perspective view
    Fuji FinePix HS10.
  • Hampton Hall, Oakland

    Hampton Hall

    We have seen this Tudor palace before, but there is no reason we should not see it again, with some different details this time.

    Entrance and light well

    The entrance lobby. The interior is filled with richly colored tiles, some with decorative figures like this griffin.

    Griffin tile
  • Some Houses on Broadway, Dormont

    2815 Broadway

    Father Pitt continues documenting the domestic architecture of the Pittsburgh area, in the hope that some of his readers will begin to appreciate the character of the neighborhoods they live in.

    Broadway in Dormont is the boulevard where the streetcars run in the median. That makes it a prominent street, and on one side some of the better-off citizens of the middle-class borough built houses on a lavishly upper-middle-class scale. The Tudor house above has had its porch enclosed, which disguises what would have been an interesting design with an overhanging second-floor sunroom.


    This one has had vinyl siding applied with fairly good taste, but it would originally have been shingled above the ground floor.


    Here we have arts-and-crafts style applied to the standard Pittsburgh Foursquare arrangement. The wood trim has been replaced with aluminum; there would probably have been prominent carved brackets to add to the arts-and-crafts appeal.


    The archetypal Pittsburgh Foursquare.

    Houses along Broadway

    When these houses were built, the big attraction of this street was its direct trolley link to downtown Pittsburgh.

    Trolley passing

    That is still true today.

  • 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.

  • Tudor Duplexes in Shadyside and Beechview

    Woodside Dwellings

    This duplex in Beechview is one of a pair right beside the Westfield stop on the Red Line. It looked very familiar. Where had we seen it before?

    Duplex on Ellsworth at St. James Place

    This duplex is on Ellsworth Avenue in Shadyside, part of a group of duplexes on St. James Place and the adjacent side of Ellsworth Avenue. It is not identical to the one in Beechview, but so many of their parts are identical that the Beechview and Shadyside duplexes were obviously drawn by the same pen.

    Woodside Dwellings

    Above, a perspective view of one of the pair in Beechview, which is marked “Woodside Dwellings” on a 1923 map. It stands on Westfield Street, which was briefly called Woodside Avenue; the other of the pair was called “Suburban Dwellings” after the cross street, Suburban Avenue. Except for the loss of the Tudor half-timbering in the front gable, this one is very well preserved. (Suburban Dwellings has lost more details.)

    Below, a perspective view of one of the duplexes in Shadyside.

    Duplex on Ellsworth Avenue

    One of the details they share is a “No Outlet” sign. But we can see that the Shadyside duplexes are narrower and deeper than the Beechview ones. The same architect adapted as much of the same design as possible to the different dimensions of different lots.

    Four more of these duplexes stand on St. James Place, a little one-block side street running back to the cliff overlooking the railroad and busway.

    Tudor duplex

    This one has kept its original tile roof.

    Perspective view
    Another duplex
    Yet another

    A detail preserved by the one in Beechview is the Art Nouveau art glass with Jugendstil tulips.

    Art glass

    Old Pa Pitt does not yet know the architect of these Tudor duplexes. But if he had to make a wild guess, he would guess Charles Bier. The wide arches with strong verticals above, and the filtering of Tudor detailing through a German-art-magazine Art Nouveau sensibility, strongly remind us of Bier’s other works. There are other known works of Bier both in Shadyside and in the South Hills.

    In Shadyside, these Tudor duplexes are interspersed with Spanish Mission duplexes, showing once again that Tudor and Spanish Mission belong together.

    Duplex on Ellsworth Avenue
    Duplex on St. James Place
  • Garber Row, Morningside

    Garber Row in Morningside

    The Vilsack Row in Morningside, designed by Frederick Scheibler, is famous as one of the early experiments with modernism in residential design. Here we have another approach to more or less the same problem: how to make compact and affordable housing that is nevertheless architecturally interesting and therefore attractive to potential residents. These houses were built in 1914 at almost exactly the same time as the Vilsack Row and diagonally across the street from it, but they could hardly be more different.

    Garber Row

    The architect here was A. B. Snyder, not one of our most famous architects, but one who could be relied upon to produce an attractive design. In this row for Mrs. Josephine A. Garber, Snyder has taken an approach exactly opposite to Scheibler’s: he has created a Tudor fantasy that makes the row feel like an English village. That fantasy cost money, and these were larger and more expensive houses than the ones in the Vilsack Row. But they were still reasonably cheap. They were another successful answer to the same question.

    One house of the Garber Row
    Garber Row
  • A Stroll Up Devonshire Street

    Georgian mansion and fence

    Today we are going to take a stroll up one block of Devonshire Street; and although it will be a short stroll, it will be a long article, because almost every single house on this block is an extraordinary mansion by some distinguished architect. Old Pa Pitt regrets that he does not know which architect for most of them, but he is feeling lazy today and has decided not to spend the rest of the day researching the histories of these houses. Instead, he will simply publish these pictures, which are worth seeing both for the houses themselves and for the poetic effect of the late-autumn landscapes, and will update the article later as more information dribbles in.

  • Tudor House by the Beezer Brothers, Schenley Farms

    Today we have the privilege of peeking into one of those fine Tudor houses in Schenley Farms, through the courtesy of the gracious owners. The architects of this one, built in 1907, were the twin Beezer Brothers, who gave us a number of fine houses and a few distinguished public buildings before moving out west to prosper even more. In Pittsburgh architectural history, they’re mentioned most often as the employers of John T. Comès when he designed the church of St. John the Baptist (now the Church Brew Works) in Lawrenceville, which shows that they had an eye for rare talent. This house shows that the brothers also had a keen eye for detail and meticulous craftsmanship.

    The entry is a good introduction to the house, with its dark woodwork and art glass everywhere. Tudor Revival architecture uses dark wood extensively; in the best Tudor Revival houses, it creates a sense of shelter from the inhospitable elements outside.

    If you look closely toward the top of the staircase, you may notice one of the unusual additions to this house: a stair lift that is probably ninety years old or more.

    The staircase leads up to a landing with a huge window in the best Tudor Revival style. Light pours in through the window, but the much-divided glass keeps the strong sense of being inside and comfortably protected.

    Stairwell window

    The escutcheons in glass suggest a family tradition of immemorial antiquity, which must be a comforting feeling if you are a former shop clerk who has just made his pile in sewer pipes or corsets.

    The dining room is illuminated by windows that permit a view of the world outside (and the back yard next door), but filter it through artistic glass.

    The entry is separated from the rooms behind by more glass.

    The front entrance is surrounded by glass, which lights up the entry without making it oppressively bright.

    The front porch is covered by a roof whose exposed timbers give it a Tudor atmosphere while once again adding to the sense of shelter.

    The windows of the front entrance, like several of the other windows in the house, permit a view of the outside world through artistically arranged glass. In effect they Tudorize the great world beyond the house, making it seem more inviting and less threatening. It is almost a disappointment to walk out and find no beruffed nobles on horseback or elegant court ladies waving handkerchiefs.

    What houses like this gave their residents was a sense of permanence in a world that might otherwise seem to be running away from them. Living here, you were part of the best traditions of the old world, while enjoying all the comforts modern technology could provide you. The design created spaces that were distinct and sheltering, each adapted perfectly to its purpose, but harmonized into a whole that conveys a consistent impression of comfort and prosperity. The joy of a Tudor house by the Beezer Brothers, or any of the dozens of similarly accomplished architects who were working in Pittsburgh at the same time, is not the joy of seeing old forms burst apart and wonderful new shapes burbling out of the artist’s imagination. They are not free verse by Whitman; they are sonnets by Shakespeare or Spenser or Wordsworth or Millay, in which each artist uses the traditional form, but the pleasure is in how the form brings out the distinct personality of the artist.

  • Langley High School, Sheraden

    Langley High School

    This school began in 1923 as Sheraden High School, then was renamed Langley. It is now an elementary and junior high school. The architects were MacClure & Spahr, whose instinct for late English Gothic made it a memorable Tudor palace.

    Long wall
    Another entrance
  • Presbyterian Church, West End

    Tudor front of the church

    It seems to old Pa Pitt that the whole history of the West End is epitomized in this building.

    There was a Presbyterian church on this spot more than 150 years ago, marked “Un. Presb. Ch.” on an 1872 map. It was just around the corner from another kind of Presbyterian church (which is now a garage); even today Wikipedia lists more than 45 kinds of Presbyterians in the United States, and that is after a number of mergers and consolidations. In 1890 this is marked “A. F. Pres. Ch.,” and again in about 1903; but on a 1905 map it is marked “United Presbyterian Church,” and that is as much as Father Pitt can do to sort out the history of the congregation.

    At about the time of the First World War, the church had a little burst of prosperity and added this fashionable Tudor front.

    Oblique view of the church

    Later, the congregation fizzled out, and the building was heavily altered and taken over by Ceramiche Tile. Now Ceramiche is moving to the western suburbs, and this building is up for sale.

    The result is a building that—like much of the rest of the West End—is hard to sort out from both an architectural and a historical point of view. But the stone-and-half-timber front is an attractive ornament to Main Street, and we hope the building will find a sympathetic new owner.