Tag: Victorian Architecture

  • Butler Building, Garfield

    Butler Building

    As the business district along Penn Avenue becomes a more and more desirable place for artsy shops and galleries, it has been cheering to see many old buildings cleaned up and given new life in Garfield. Here is one of the finest. Old Pa Pitt knows nothing about it other than that its name is Butler.

  • Commercial Building at Third & Third, Carnegie

    Commercial Building at Third Street and Third Avenue, Carnegie

    Father Pitt took these pictures more than a year ago, but for some reason he never published them until now. This Rundbogenstil building at Third Street and Third Avenue takes full advantage of its corner site, and the details of the pediment and cornice have been lovingly picked out in tastefully balanced colors.

    Third Street side
  • Cast-Iron Fronts on Wood Street

    Victorian building with cast-iron front

    We have seen these beautiful storefronts before, but only obliquely. Here they are again, because we can never see them too often. This is one of the best Victorian cast-iron fronts in the city. Note that whoever designed the building has tried very hard to make you perceive it as symmetrical, though in fact the section on the right is significantly wider than the other two.

  • Forsaith Block (and Neighbor), Sharpsburg

    Forsaith Block

    The ground floor of this building has been turned into a garage, but without losing too much of the character of the façade. The date stone tells us that the building was put up in 1889.

    Date stone reading “Forsaith Block, built A. D. 1889”

    Probably a little later, but not too much later, a building went up to the left of this one, perhaps for the same owners.

    1103–1109 Main Street

    This building appears on a 1906 map, which gives us a latest possible date. The style is somewhat different—we might call it Allegheny Valley Rundbogenstil—but the two buildings share some decorative details: the treatment of the cornice is the same, and the same flower-and-foliage ornaments (they look like a jonquil between acanthus leaves) are used on both buildings.

    Jonquil between acanthus leaves
    Round windows
  • 907 Liberty Avenue

    907 Liberty Avenue

    Penn and Liberty Avenues are living museums of Victorian downtown architecture: in very few other places can we get such a vivid impression of what a big city looked like in Victorian times before the age of skyscrapers began. From old maps, we can see that this splendid building appears to have been put up in the 1880s for one W. T. Shannon, who was still the owner in 1923. The upper floors are now loft apartments.

  • Cast-Iron Front on Liberty Avenue

    951 Liberty Avenue

    To judge by old maps, this splendid cast-iron-fronted building was put up in the 1880s for William Carr, and it remained in the Carr family for decades after that. These days the details are picked out in shades of pale blue.

  • Terra-Cotta Front on Smithfield Street

    643 Smithfield Street

    This splendid building is well preserved two-thirds of the way down from the top; the ground floor has been replaced, but with a very neutral remodeling that does not clash offensively with the floors above it. Below, one of the elaborate terra-cotta brackets under the cornice.

    Terra-cotta bracket
  • Victorian Commercial Building in Sharpsburg

    A well-preserved specimen of Victorian architecture on Main Street in Sharpsburg. The windows have been altered, but the storefront with its inset entrance is intact, and the decorative details of the upper floors have been kept—except for what was probably art glass in the attic.

  • Victorian Remnant on Smithfield Street

    633 Smithfield Street

    Americans don’t look up. That is the best explanation old Pa Pitt can come up with. It accounts for a number of phenomena: our blank, undecorated ceilings, or even worse our acoustical-tile ceilings; the disappearance of cornices and the healing of the scars thus left with the aluminum equivalent of duct tape; and the way builders and even architects renovate lower floors of a building without even a glance at what the remainder above looks like. Here we have a bedraggled building from 1883 that could be splendid if it were restored, or just renovated with some minimal taste. But what shall we even call that shingly excrescence on the lower two floors? We also note that all the upper windows are gone except on the third floor, where someone has installed a stock glass sliding door. “I’m just stepping out for a breath of fresh air,” says the visitor…

    The Brutalist spiral next door would have been a striking feature in a block of modernist buildings; it seems like, and probably was, a deliberate insult here.

    Top of the building qith 1883 date stone
    Ornamental woodcarving
  • Victorian Eclectic on Carson Street, South Side

    1710 East Carson Street

    This grand building from the 1880s towers over its lowlier neighbor with a Potemkin attic that has nothing behind it. The next generation of architects would cringe at the fussiness of the details, but they are harmonized well.

    Roof decoration

    Old maps show this building as owned by Mrs. M. A. Fuchs in 1890, and still owned by her in 1923.