Sunday, December 18, 2011

Welcome to www.JonathonDenson.com

"Discovering Historic Pittsburgh" has a new domain name! You can now visit the blog at:

www.JonathonDenson.com

Like "Discovering Historic Pittsburgh" on Facebook

Like the "Discovering Historic Pittsburgh" Facebook page for updates and discussions regarding my blog and historic preservation in Pittsburgh.

http://www.facebook.com/historicpittsburgh

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Preservation Opportunities: Spring Hill

Spring Hill is a historic hill-top neighborhood located on the North Side of the city of Pittsburgh.  While there are some beautiful Victorian homes in this neighborhood, many have seen better days.  Here are a few abandoned buildings in Spring Hill which could be excellent historic preservation opportunities.

UPDATE:  1810 Walz St. has been renovated. Click here to see how it looks today in comparison.

32 Woessner St., Spring Hill (Pittsburgh).  An abandoned, tax delinquent property.  It was purchased by a Las Vegas real estate company in 2007, shortly before the housing crisis.  Exterior is in good condition, but interior needs major work.

Historic church at 1620 Rhine St., Spring Hill (Pittsburgh). Built in 1902 by the German United Evangelical Independent Congregation.  The church was sold off by its few remaining members in 2009, for $35,000.  The roof had a leak at that time, but the interior and structure were very intact.   In only two years since the sale, because the owner has failed to do any kind of maintenance, the water penetration caused the roof to fall in. Many stained glass windows are still intact. 
Click here to see the Spring Hill Church in 2008, before the roof failure.
1620 Rhine St., Spring Hill (Pittsburgh).
Stained glass windows at 1620 Rhine St.




1846 Damas St., Spring Hill.  This abandoned, tax-delinquent property could be a charming home.


1810 Walz St., Spring Hill.  

1810 Walz St., Spring Hill.


1810 Walz St., Spring Hill.  View of rear of property.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Uniontown, PA


Here are a few pictures I took during a visit to Uniontown, PA.  Uniontown is a small city located about an hour south of Pittsburgh.  The downtown area has seen substantial revitalization, including restored storefronts, new businesses, and a beautifully renovated historic theater. It is clear that the city leaders of Uniontown are on the right track and have made great strides.  They have increased the attractiveness of the urban core of the city, thereby making the city a more vibrant and appealing place to be. 








Monday, November 21, 2011

Wheeling, WV: Eminent Domain and Historic Building Demolition Craze

"City leaders are wrong to lead with an erasure, trying to rub out former greatness and pawn it off as a victory for today." - Jerome Poynton, resident of East Wheeling.

City leaders in Wheeling are making efforts to demolish a significant number of historic buildings in the East Wheeling Historic District.  Earlier this year, I documented the large section of the East Wheeling neighborhood that city leaders seek to acquire by eminent domain. The intention is to bulldoze and replace the once elegant Civil War-era Victorian architecture with a ball park. There is currently a lawsuit filed by home owners in the neighborhood who wish to keep their homes, but the city still intends to raze these and the other homes in the area.  You can see the pictures I took of the area the mayor wants to completely tear down here: Large Section of East Wheeling Historic District to be Demolished.


A large block of Civil War-era Victorian housing to be demolished in the East Wheeling Historic District.

Read more about the eminent domain case in East Wheeling here: http://www.news-register.net/page/content.detail/id/561873/Judge-Recht-Consolidates-East-Wheeling-cases.html?nav=515
 In addition to the neighborhood clearance in East Wheeling, a large section of the 1100 block of Main and Market in Center Wheeling will also be demolished.  Read more here:  http://www.news-register.net/page/content.detail/id/561842/Bond-ordinance-for-1100-block-irks-preservationists.html?nav=510



The former Fort Henry Club, a 19th century landmark in downtown Wheeling, is also endangered. The club recently closed and the building is in the hands of the Episcopal Church next door, who seek to demolish the building if not sold within six months. Read more here:  http://www.theintelligencer.net/page/content.detail/id/562666/Former-Fort-Henry-Club-Has-6-Months.html

See the real estate listing for the Fort Henry Club here.

Demolition has also started at a Wheeling landmark, the Mount de Chantal, built in 1865:  http://www.news-register.net/page/content.detail/id/561536/Demolition-Begins-At-Mount-de-Chantal.html?nav=515

Historic Mount de Chantal, Wheeling, WV (now being demolished)

Thursday, November 17, 2011

McKeesport: "Long-Abandoned Ruins of the Dreams You Left Behind"

McKeesport was once a major, bustling city, with a population of over 50,000 people. It was the second largest city in Allegheny County, behind Pittsburgh. Downtown McKeesport was full of people during the day, from office workers and steel-workers to shoppers. McKeesport boasted several fine department stores, movie palaces, restaurants, and nightlife. The residential areas included streets with many fine mansions. The city was hit hard by surburbanization in the 1960s, when Eastland Mall opened and retail began trickling out. In 1976, several downtown landmarks and city blocks burned to the ground. By the 1980s, the collapse of the steel industry put the final nail in McKeesport's coffin. The city today is a hollow shell of what it once was. The population stands at 19,731, a far cry from its glory days. There are abandoned buildings all around, many with historic character and significance. Many more have fallen down and burned over the decades, leaving great empty parcels of urban prairie. Still, there are some gorgeous buildings left, like some of the ones I have photographed below.

Evans Street


"East Park"

Evans Street


Carnegie Library of McKeesport - Library Avenue. Built 1902.


Olive Street







McKeesport skyline, from Port Vue.




View of Downtown McKeesport.


Victorian overlooking Downtown McKeesport from Port Vue.











Shaw Avenue - Millionaire's Row




A pair of abandoned Victorians on Shaw Avenue.





Downtown McKeesport

City Hall and YMCA

Fifth Avenue

"Masonic Temple"



A McKeesport landmark, built 1866.

The faded "Penn-McKee Hotel" was once McKeesport's grand hotel. It is now vacant and shuttered.


There were originally many examples of Italianate architecture in McKeesport's old neighborhoods near downtown, but most have fallen down or are vacant shells.


Abandoned church. Yes, it's a Brownstone!


Evans Street

"Shotgun" houses on Scott Street.

"Shotgun" Houses on Scott Street Rear (alley)

Abandoned mansion near Colfax and Park Street.



Madison Street


Corner of Jenny Lind Street and Scott Street

Park Street

Park Street

Park Street











Olive Street