Monday, July 21, 2014

RIP: Hitzrot House - McKeesport

"Any city gets what it admires, will pay for, and, ultimately, deserves... And we will probably be judged not by the monuments we build but by those we have destroyed."  -Ada Louise Huxtable, Farewell to Penn Station, 1963

The Hitzrot House was built in 1892 for Dr. Henry Hitzrot, and stood at 626 Market Street in McKeesport, Pennsylvania.  It was designed by noted Pittsburgh architect Frederick Sauer. It later became the local Eagles Club.  The building was demolished by the city on July 21, 2014.  It was the second significant historic building lost in McKeesport during the month of July, the other being the McKeesport Water Filtration Roundhouse.

No effort was made to salvage the old house parts or the antiques inside the Hitzrot House. Sadly, the city of McKeesport shows no interest in historic preservation matters.  The building could have been stabilized and mothballed for less than the cost of demolition. 

"The enemy of the dying city is not the abandoned building, but the circumstances that caused the building to become abandoned. Demolition is the erosion of a city, the removal of a city, the death of a city." - Jonathon Denson

Here is the video I took of the demolition:

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Endangered: Water Filtration Roundhouse - McKeesport

Water Filtration Roundhouse (1908) in McKeesport

The water filtration roundhouse was built in 1908 in McKeesport, and is currently owned by the Municipal Authority of Westmoreland County (MAWC).

MAWC seeks to demolish this historic building for a storage shed.

The roundhouse sits on a parcel of land adjacent to the Great Allegheny Passage bike trail. This means there are numerous possible adaptive reuse options for this building.

Please make your voice heard and write, email, or call MAWC and tell them that the roundhouse should be preserved. Here is the contact information for MAWC.  They are also on Facebook and Twitter.

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Pittsburgh Vernacular: The "Victorian Cottage"

The concept of micro-housing, or tiny houses, is gaining in popularity. This is not really a new idea, though. In the past, small houses were built for the working class and were very commonplace. However, over the last several decades, small houses were unfortunately thought of as less desirable than large, suburban houses, and many were demolished. 

We can preserve the tiny historic homes in our region and contribute to the micro-housing movement, while also "being green" by re-using existing structures.

These tiny houses represent Pittsburgh vernacular architecture. The one-story Victorian cottage with dormer was once very common on Pittsburgh's North Side and some of the southern hill-top neighborhoods. These homes were often built on the sides of hills. I believe this style of architecture is fairly unique to Pittsburgh.

Victorian cottage with dormer in East Deutschtown (North Side)

East Deutschtown

841 Suismon (now demolished) - an example of a Victorian cottage with mansard roof.

An example of a Victorian cottage built into the side of a hill on Walz Street (now demolished).

Victorian cottage with dormer, built on the side of a hill on Walz Street (now demolished).

Victorian cottages on Voskamp Street. Only the center cottage survives.

An example of a brick Victorian cottage in East Deutschtown.

A tiny house in Hays

Spring Garden

Spring Garden

Spring Garden

The center door is unique. Spring Garden.

Spring Garden

Spring Garden

Spring Garden