Tag: Hutchins (William P.)

  • Holy Innocents Church, Sheraden

    Holy Innocents Church, Sheraden

    Looming up from the quiet back streets of Sheraden, this titanic Gothic church would put many a cathedral to shame. Built in 1924, it was probably the grandest work of William P. Hutchins. Though it has closed as a church and has been stripped of some of its ornamental details, it is still in use and thus maintains at least a precarious hold on existence.

    Front of the church

    This article will be a feast for lovers of utility cables. The rest will just have to put up with diagonal black lines in the pictures.

    From Landis Street
    From Sherwood Avenue
    Apse not for whom the bell tolls

    The apse of the church is a commanding presence on the street, making strollers-by feel almost as if they have wandered into a medieval cathedral city. But how many Gothic apses in those stuffy European towns have a garage in the basement?

  • St. Francis Xavier Church, Brighton Heights

    St. Francis Xavier Church, Brighton Heights

    Architect William P. Hutchins certainly made the most of the site. He had a hillside location, a prominent intersection, and a lot of space to work with, so he oriented the building diagonally and gave the church a west front (liturgically speaking) that hits us with an outsized magnificence as we come up California Avenue. The church was built in 1927; the style is Perpendicular Gothic, and already shows some signs of the streamlining that would mark Hutchins’ later works. (To see how far he would take that streamlining, have a look at Resurrection Church in Brookline, one of Hutchins’ last churches.)

    Entrance with clouds
    To get the building, the distant hill, and the clouds all properly exposed took three different exposures, all mashed together in one high-dynamic-range photograph. That is how much work Father Pitt is willing to do for you, his readers.

    Shields in relief over the three main doors honor important saints with their symbolic attributes.


    The cornerstone. The Latin inscription says, “This is the house of God and the gate of heaven.”

    Side view of the church

    Old Pa Pitt noticed that Wikimedia Commons had no current pictures of landmarks in the very pleasant neighborhood of Brighton Heights, except for a few pictures of the Sacrifice monument, most of them taken by Father Pitt. That lacuna has now been filled, and we will be seeing many of the pictures in the next couple of weeks.

  • St. Mary of Mercy Church

    This long-lens view from Mount Washington shows us how architect William P. Hutchins crammed as much church and diocesan office space as possible into a tiny downtown lot. The church was built in 1936 in a part of town that was not the most fashionable at the time, and the location and the Depression probably account for the general modesty of the structure. But within its modest limits, it certainly makes the most of its lot.

    Hutchins is not one of our most celebrated architects, but he did give the Catholics in Pittsburgh some distinguished buildings. An article about St. James Church in Wilkinsburg gives us some more information about him.

    Old Pa Pitt was about to link to some of his earlier pictures of St. Mary of Mercy and discovered that he never published them. Here are a few pictures from ground level.

    St. Mary of Mercy
    Gothic arcade
    St. Mary herself
    Corner tower
  • Resurrection Church, Brookline

    Resurrection Church

    If old Pa Pitt were more ambitious, he would remove those utility cables from the photograph, or from the street if he were more ambitious than that.

    Resurrection Church was built in 1939 in an interesting modernist Gothic style, anticipating the streamlined modernist Gothic that would have a brief vogue after the Second World War. This design managed to give the congregation a sumptuous Gothic interior while keeping the exterior outlines starkly simple. The main entrance, for example, is recessed far into the building, so that only by standing right in front of it can we see the elaborate Gothic tracery and inscription.

    An update: The 1939 church was designed by William P. Hutchins, who gave us many distinguished late-Gothic churches and schools, including St. Mary of Mercy downtown.

    Side entrance

    One of the side entrances.

    The Light of the World

    “Light of the World” relief over the side entrance.

    Resurrection School

    Before 1939, Resurrection Parish worshiped in the school next door, which was built in 1909. As usual, the Brookline Connection site has a thorough history of Resurrection Parish. From it we learn that the school was built in stages: the first two floors of the front were built first, with the rear and top floor added later. (Addendum: We have found that the architect of the second-floor addition was John T. Comès.1 This strongly suggests that Comès was the architect of the original building.) We are also told that the sanctuary was on the “ground floor,” but as we see from this picture, “ground floor” can be a slippery concept in Pittsburgh.

    Oblique view

    The school closed some time ago, and it is now a retirement home. Resurrection Church is now a worship site of St. Teresa of Kolkata parish, which also includes St. Pius X church in Brookline and St. Catherine of Siena in Beechview.

    1. Source: The Construction Record, January 13, 1912: “Architect John T. Comes, 1005 Fifth avenue, will be ready for estimates about January 15th on erecting a one-story brick fireproof parochial addition at Brookline, for the R. C. Church of the Resurrection, Brookline. Cost $15,000.” The original building cost $22,000. ↩︎