Tag: Tudor Architecture

  • Brookline Boulevard United Presbyterian Church

    Brookline Boulevard United Presbyterian Church

    The main part of this church building, which now belongs to the Tree of Life Open Bible Church, opened in 1924. The style is a kind of utilitarian Perpendicular, with attractive stone textures and buttresses and a couple of broad pointed Tudor arches characteristic of the English Perpendicular style; but the side windows are plain rectangles.

    This and later additions largely conceal an older chapel built in 1913, which became the rear of the new church. The Christian Education wing along the Brookline Boulevard side was built in 1953 in a more elaborate (and earlier) Gothic style that harmonizes well with the main building. Clearly the church was feeling rich in the early 1950s, when many other churches were abandoning Gothic altogether and building modernist warehouses.

    The Presbyterians sold this church to the Tree of Life congregation in 2016, but rented space in it for two more years until giving up in 2018.

    Front
    Lower side
    From across intersection
    Brookline Boulevard side
  • Presbyterian Church of Mount Washington

    Presbyterian Church of Mount Washington

    Now the Vintage Church. This church on Bailey Avenue is a fine example of what happens when streamlined Art Deco meets Tudor Gothic.

    Peak
    Entrance
    Vintage Church
  • The Liberty Elementary School, Shadyside

    A school built in 1911 in the fashionable Tudor Gothic style. The elegant lettering of the inscription is worthy of imitation.

  • The Tudor Style in Schenley Farms

    Tudor house

    Schenley Farms is that quiet little enclave of grand houses in the Oakland university district. It is a museum of styles that were popular in the early twentieth century, and one of the most popular for grand houses was the Tudor style. Half-timbering (ostentatious beams with stucco between them), steep-pitched roofs, bays, and oriels (overhanging bays) are frequent marks of the style. Here’s a little gallery of Tudor houses from a short walk in the neighborhood.

    Another Tudor house
  • Apartment Building on Negley Avenue, Shadyside

    Apartment building on Negley Avenue

    A small apartment building in a vernacular Tudor style; its battlemented bay sets it apart from other apartment buildings in the neighborhood.

    Apartment building
  • Beechwood School, Beechview

    In an out-of-the-way corner of Beechview is this particularly fine school by Press Dowler. The original part of the school was built in 1908 in the borough of West Liberty, because the line between the boroughs of Beechview and West Liberty ran right across the street grid of the developed section of Beechview. “Beechwood” was the name of the original community that became the borough of Beechview, and the company that developed the land on both sides of the border was the Beechwood Improvement Co. In 1909 the two boroughs were both annexed by Pittsburgh, and by 1922 the school was bursting at the seams. Press C. Dowler was hired to design an expansion that more than tripled the size of the school, and he came through with a magnificently ornamented building in the Tudor Gothic style that was all the rage for schools in the 1920s. It is now on the National Register of Historic Places for its architectural merit.

    The name and date inscribed over one of the entrances.

    The south section is the original 1908 school, but Mr. Dowler completely rebuilt the façade to match his plan for the expanded school, so that today the whole building appears to have been put up at once.

    Mr. Dowler did not stint on terra-cotta decoration.

    The lamp of learning.

    These urns flank the entrances; old Pa Pitt suspects they were designed by the architect himself.

    As a bonus for his loyal readers, old Pa Pitt includes a typically Pittsburghish cacophony of utility cables.

  • Warwick House, Squirrel Hill

    Stairwell window

    Warwick House was built in 1910 for Howard Heinz, son of the ketchup king H. J. Heinz. The architects were Vrydaugh and Wolfe, and the construction budget was $75,000. After the Heinzes it passed through the Hillmans, and now it belongs to the Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh, from which it is rented by Opus Dei, the Catholic organization famed for its albino assassins. But the organization seldom sends the assassins out against anyone but renowned curators; the rest of us are quite safe. At an open house this summer, old Pa Pitt was graciously allowed to take a few pictures of the beautifully maintained Jacobean interior. Above, the window in the grand staircase.

    Front of the house

    This picture of the front is not the best; the light was from the wrong direction. It means we will have to return soon at a different time of day.

    Front door

    The front door.

    Front hall

    The front hall; the door to the library is on the right, the grand staircase on the left.

    Decorative woodwork

    A little bit of the decorative woodwork in the front hall.

    Grand staircase

    The grand staircase.

    Ceiling

    Modern American houses forget about the ceiling, as if people never looked up. Warwick House does not make that mistake. This is the decorated ceiling in a side hall.

    Chapel
    Chapel

    The former ballroom was converted into a chapel by the late Henry Menzies, an ecclesiastical architect whose specialty was refurbishing modernist churches of the 1960s and 1970s to make them suitable for liturgical worship. He liked to use a baldacchino to give proper emphasis to the altar. (The ballroom was added to the house later, probably in 1929 according to the current residents.)

    Ceiling of the ballroom

    The ceiling of the ballroom.

  • Rhodes Mansion, Allegheny West

    Rhodes mansion

    Does anyone know the history of this house? A twenty-year-old Post-Gazette article describes the restoration challenges that would have awaited a new owner; Father Pitt does not know the history of the house since then, and he thinks the article may be incorrect about the history before that. The Post-Gazette article says it was built for steel magnate Joshua Rhodes; but the Joshua Rhodes who turns up in every other search lived on Western Avenue and certainly did not have a 32-year-old wife in the early 1900s, which the article says was Grace Rhodes’ age when she died of a brain tumor not long after the house was built. Joshua Rhodes might have built this house for one of his sons; that is old Pa Pitt’s best hypothesis. William B. Rhodes would have been 39 in 1903; Walter J. Rhodes would have been 31. Either one of them might plausibly have had a wife in her thirties in the early 1900s.

    Almost all the surviving great houses in Allegheny West have either been repurposed as institutional or office buildings or restored as grand mansions once again. This Tudor palace, however, seems to be in need of a bit of help. Clearly the exterior is in good shape, though the front lawn is not maintained much this year. A suburban doctor’s house would probably cost less than this 40-room mansion. Who’s ready for a do-it-yourself adventure?

    Front door
    Decoration

    The decorative shield over the front door looks from a distance as though it once bore an inscription, but as far as old Pa Pitt can tell it was always decorated with horizontal ridges alone.

  • Oliver Bathhouse, South Side

    Oliver Bathhouse
    Tenth Street front.

    Known as the South Side Baths when it was built, this was donated by steel baron and real-estate magnate Henry W. Oliver, who in 1903 gave the city land and money for a neighborhood bathhouse to be free to the people forever. In those days, many poor families—including the ones who worked for Oliver—lived in tenements where they had no access to bathing. (Even the Bedford School across the street from this bathhouse had outside privies until 1912.) Oliver might not raise his workmen’s salaries, but he was willing to make the men smell better.

    Bingham Street side
    Bingham Street side.

    To design the bathhouse, Oliver chose the most prestigious architect in the country: Daniel Burnham. Then, in 1904, Oliver died, and his gift spent almost a decade in limbo. The project was finally revived in 1913, by which time Burnham had died as well. The plans were taken over by MacClure & Spahr, an excellent Pittsburgh firm responsible for the Diamond Building and the Union National Building. No one seems to know how much they relied on Burnham’s drawings, but the Tudor Gothic style of the building (it was finished in 1915) is certainly in line with other MacClure & Spahr projects, like the chapel for the Homewood Cemetery. Even MacClure & Spahr’s early sketches show a quite different building, so it is probably safest to assume that little of Burnham remains here.

    Bath House – South Side Pittsburgh Pa.
    For the Henry W. Oliver Estate
    MacClure & Spahr – Architects – Pittsburgh Pa.

    When we compare this to the building as it stands, it looks as though the Oliver estate told the architects that this version was not expensive enough. “Try again,” the estate must have said, “but this time spend more money.”

    There was a fad for building public baths in Pittsburgh in the early twentieth century, and on Saturday nights workers and their families would line up around the block to get into the bathhouses and wash off the grime of the week. Gradually, indoor plumbing became a feature of even the most notorious slum tenements, and all but one of the bathhouses closed. The Oliver Bathhouse, given to the people in perpetuity, remains. It has been saved by its indoor swimming pool, the only city pool open during the winter.

    Classical dolphin

    Nothing says “water” like a classical dolphin.

    Another dolphin
  • South Hills High School, Mount Washington

    South Hills High School

    Here is a large institutional building whose story of abandonment and decay has a happy ending.

    South Hills High School was Pittsburgh’s second great palace of high-school education, right after Schenley High School. For this one, the city hired Alden & Harlow, arguably the most prestigious institutional architects money could buy. They were responsible for the Carnegie Institute and all the branch libraries, in addition to multiple millionaires’ mansions and skyscrapers downtown.

    The site of the school is improbably vertical. In those days, “South Hills” meant the back slopes of Mount Washington, and a walk along the side of this school is a steep climb. But the architects met the challenge with a Tudor Gothic palace that seems to have grown on the site. It takes up a whole city block.

    South Hills High School

    The Ruth Street side of the school opened in 1917; the rest of the school—planned from the beginning—opened in 1925. For many years the school took in students from the South Hills and beyond—“beyond” meaning Banksville, Beechview, and Brookline. In 1976, a monstrously modernist new school—Brashear—opened in Beechview, which took in all the students from the southern neighborhoods. With population declining and the building getting old, the city decided to close South Hills altogether in 1986.

    And then it sat and rotted for 23 years.

    But, as we said, the story has a happy ending. As you see from these pictures, the building is well taken care of now. In 2010 it reopened as apartments for senior citizens, so that once again it is an ornament to its neighborhood.

    The wonderfully thorough Brookline Connection site has a long article about South Hills High School, including the architects’ plans.