Tag: Victorian Architecture

  • The Witches’ Caps on Negley Avenue

    625 to 633 South Negley Avenue

    This row of Queen Anne houses on Negley Avenue in Shadyside surely strikes every passer-by, if for nothing other than their turrets with witches’ caps. The other details are also worth noticing: the ornamental woodwork and the roof slates, for example. The houses are just detached enough that we can see that the sides are made of cheaper brick rather than the stone that faces the street.

    629 South Negley Avenue

    The last one in the row lost its cap many years ago, but in compensation has been ultra-Victorianized with extra polychrome woodwork, as we see on the dormer below.

  • Homestead Municipal Building

    Homestead municipal building

    It would be interesting to know who was the architect of this eclectic pile, and whether he was the nephew of the burgess. It might have been more attractive before the bricks and stone accents were painted the drabbest possible grey, but it was probably never a beautiful building. It has, however, grown some character with age, and old Pa Pitt is pleased that it has been fairly well preserved, except for the installation of some standard-size windows and doors in holes that are too big for them.


    This stonework reminds Father Pitt of Titus de Bobula.

    From down the hill
  • One Block of Sidney Street on the South Side

    2109 Sidney Street

    The 2100 block of Sidney Street has some of the finest high-Victorian houses on the South Side, and several of them have unusual decorative details worth a closer examination. Old Pa Pitt took an evening stroll down Sidney Street the other day and, as always, came back with a few pictures. We’ll start with No. 2109. Note the multiple shapes of roof slates, the woodwork in the dormers, and the rusticated lintels in the picture above.

    Since we have fifteen pictures, we’ll put the rest below the fold to avoid slowing down the main page for a week.

  • Lean-To House on Sarah Street, South Side

    This is an odd anomaly in a block of some of the finest houses on the South Side: a substantial brick house built as a kind of lean-to parasite on the house next door.

    No. 2317 is set far back from the street, with a shaded porch—the only porch on the block—almost like a country house in the city. It clings dependently to the side of No. 2315 next door.

    What was the reason for this unusual construction? Old maps may give us a clue. Both houses appear first on the 1890 layer of the Pittsburgh Historic Maps site, so they were built between 1882 and 1890. The larger one is marked as owned by a Wm. J. Early, and the set-back lean-to house by Annie E. Early. We can speculate that Mr. Early built a large main house for his own family, and a smaller one for a female relative—perhaps a widowed mother.

  • Victorian Reflections on Carson Street, South Side

    Reflected commercial buildings

    The tops of Victorian commercial buildings reflected in a 1920s building across the street.

    Victorian decorations reflected
  • Victorian Houses on Penn Avenue, Garfield

    5012 Penn Avenue

    A row of fine Victorian houses on Penn Avenue in Garfield (Bloomfield according to city planning maps, because Penn Avenue is the neighborhood line, but Pittsburghers have always called both sides of Penn “Garfield”). Note the splendid tall parlor windows on the one above, which also has some particularly good gingerbreading.

    Row of houses
    Wood carving
  • Condemned House in Sharpsburg

    Condemned house in Sharpsburg

    This house is under sentence of condemnation. There is nothing really special about it, except that it is probably about 150 years old and a good representative of the Gothic I-house. The I-house is a vernacular style of house common in Pennsylvania and much of the Midwest, with a center hall and two rooms on either side. When the simple plan is complicated by a peaked central gable, as in this house, it is it is described as a Gothic I-house. Often the I-house is extended by additions that give it an L shape—and sometimes more than one addition accumulates over the years, as we see with this one, where the smaller addition in the foreground was probably added around the 1920s, to judge by the 3-over-1 window on the second floor.

    From the side

    Note the pointed vernacular-Gothic windows in the attic.

  • Spencer House, Shadyside

    Spencer House

    This house on Amberson Avenue at Pembroke Place was built in the 1880s; it appears on the map in 1890 as belonging to Mrs. C. H. Spencer. The “stick style” is fairly unusual in Pittsburgh, but this is a magnificent example.

    A different angle
  • Old Farmhouse, Cranberry Township

    Farmhouse in Cranberry

    This is a typical Pennsylvania I-house with an attractively gingerbreaded front porch. Cranberry Township in Butler County is one of the hottest development zones in the suburbs, but in among the townhouses and shopping centers there are still active farms, and a considerable number of old farmhouses from the middle 1800s. This one could use some touching up here and there, but it might be worth the expense.

    Front porch
    Side view
    Fron a distance

    The silo in the background at right belonged to a barn that has collapsed.

  • 411 Wood Street

    411 Wood Street

    This well-preserved pile of Victorian eclecticism dates from the Centennial year, as we can see by the date stone at the top. By that time Pittsburgh had grown into a large city and was rapidly becoming an industrial behemoth, and its prosperous merchants were eager to have buildings in the most up-to-date modern style.

    Date stone