Monday, January 10, 2011

Abandoned & Endangered Buildings

Abandoned buildings are endangered buildings. Many significant buildings in the city are "demolished by neglect," meaning their owners fail to maintain them, or market the buildings to new owners who will, until it is too late. Not all endangered buildings are abandoned, however. Many buildings are in danger of being demolished simply because they are old.  Historic buildings are sometimes seen as barriers to progress by people who wish to see them destroyed for new development. The lure of "out with the old, in with the new" is alive and well in this disposable age we live in.

I will continue to share pictures of newly discovered abandoned and endangered buildings in the Pittsburgh area. I will also try to research and share the building's story, and what chances the building has for surviving or being re-used in the future. Abandoned buildings should not be considered blight. They should be considered opportunities, for preservation and new development. Other cities should be so lucky to have our gorgeous existing building stock. We are only limited by our imaginations! To learn how to buy an abandoned property, click here.

East Liberty - 6012-6018 Penn Avenue: contributing structures to the East Liberty Commercial Historic District, on the National Register of Historic Places. Walnut Capital intends to purchase from ELDI, and raze for new construction on the site.  UPDATE: The center structure will be demolished, but the two adjoining facades will be preserved.

6012-6018 Penn Avenue (East Liberty)
Victorian Mansion (McKeesport) -- abandoned mansion at the corner of Colfax and Park Street.

Church of God and Saints (Wheeling, WV) -- In 1837, Chopin, Berlioz, and Mendelssohn were composing music. Martin Van Buren had just replaced Andrew Jackson as President of these United States, which numbered only 26. Wheeling was still part of Virginia. The first U.S. patent for anelectric motor was obtained that year. And this Greek Revival church was built in Wheeling and housed St. Matthew's Episcopal Church. 176 years later, this structure faces an uncertain future. The Ohio Valley Young Preservationists and the Wheeling National Heritage Area Foundation are joining forces to raise the funds to purchase and rehabilitate this structure. If you are interested in learning how you can help or would like to make a tax-deductible donation, please send an email to Liz at

Church of God and Saints, located at 12th and Byron St. in Wheeling, WV.
Penn Lincoln Hotel (Wilkinsburg) -- DEMOLISHED -- an abandoned and endangered hotel in central Wilkinsburg.

Penn Lincoln Hotel (Wilkinsburg)
Endangered: Forbes Avenue Commercial Buildings (Downtown)  DEMOLISHED
Point Park University has made application to demolish three historic commercial buildings on Forbes Avenue near Wood Street in downtown Pittsburgh. These are contributing structures in a National Register Historic District!  UPDATE:  Demolished as of February, 2016.
Endangered: historic buildings near Forbes and Wood St.(downtown Pittsburgh)

Endangered: historic commercial buildings near Forbes and Wood Street (downtown Pittsburgh)

Endangered: 815 and 817 Spring Garden Avenue
Two abandoned, tax delinquent historic homes on the North Side / East Deutschtown.
Endangered: 817 (left) and 815 (right) Spring Garden Avenue, Pittsburgh
Endangered: Circa 1830s row homes on Foreland Street  SAVED
Two circa 1830s row homes on Foreland Street in the Deutschtown Historic District (North Side) are believed to be early canal era Allegheny. They were threatened with demolition until a preservation-minded buyer purchased them. They are now being restored!

Endangered: Circa 1830s row homes on Foreland Street
Endangered: West End
There are numerous abandoned and neglected historic homes in the West End, Elliott, and Esplen neighborhoods.

Row of homes on Steuben Street in the West End / Elliott area. Two appear to be vacant and deteriorating. These appear to be on the the 1872 GM Hopkins map.

Corner of Telford and Powell Street, Esplen. One of few surviving homes in this section of Esplen. Appears to be on the 1896 GM Hopkins map.  UPDATE: Demolished as of January, 2016.

Manchester: Chateau Street
There are many abandoned and endangered historic buildings in the Pittsburgh neighborhood of Manchester, especially along Chateau Street. Demolition is a constant threat to buildings in this neglected portion of the historic district.

All but one of these homes on Chateau Street were demolished.

Buena Vista Street house (North Side)

Buena Vista Street & Rolla Street, Pittsburgh
Melrose Avenue house (North Side)

Melrose Avenue, Pittsburgh
Spring Garden neighborhood:
I'm placing the entire neighborhood of Spring Garden on the "endangered" list. One of the oldest surviving neighborhoods in the city, Spring Garden contains a significant number of vacant or neglected Victorian homes, many of which are pre-1872. The cycle of decay and demolition persists at an alarming rate.

Voskamp Street.
Joseph Doty House (Tarentum):  Historic canal house, built circa 1855 by Joseph Doty, at 127 First Avenue in Tarentum, PA.  Condemned by Tarentum Boro.  UPDATE: The property has been purchased, and the owner is making updates and repairs.

127 First Avenue, Tarentum, PA
"Donora Hotel"  (Donora, PA)
Historic hotel in downtown Donora.  It appears to be vacant and deteriorating.

3033-3041 Spring Way, Pittsburgh (Strip District)
There are few row-houses still standing in the Strip District, which once contained many more.  This row of circa 1910 homes appears to be vacant and deteriorating.  Hopefully, they can be preserved as a reminder of the blue collar heritage of the Strip District.

3033-3041 Spring Way, Pittsburgh (Strip District). Historic row homes.
168 1/2 and 170 38th Street, Pittsburgh (Lawrenceville) DEMOLISHED
Circa 1850s row-houses listed on the City of Pittsburgh demolition postings for May, 2012. Sadly, these houses were demolished by the city in June, 2012. When will the city stop putting historically significant buildings on their demolition lists, and instead market them to potential buyers and rehabbers?

168 1/2 and 170 38th Street (Lawrenceville)
350 5th Avenue (Downtown Pittsburgh, corner of Smithfield and 5th Ave.) SAVED
Historic office building / department store located in downtown Pittsburgh at the corner of Smithfield and 5th Ave. Plans from Oxford Development called for demolishing this building for a new office tower. These plans were cancelled and the building was sold to a new developer with plans to preserve it.

Voeghtly and E. Lacock St. (North Side)
Decaying Victorian commercial / apartment building and adjacent row-house located at Voeghtly and E. Lacock Street in the city of Pittsburgh. This property is owned by the Urban Redevelopment Authority.

Voeghtly and E. Lacock Street, North Side (Pittsburgh)

1620 Rhine St., Spring Hill (Pittsburgh)
"Demolition by neglect" would be an apt description of the scenario which faces this historic church, circa 1902, in Spring Hill. The current owner purchased the property in 2009 for $35,000 from the last few remaining members of  the German United Evangelical Independent Congregation. 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 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 what the interior of the church looked like in 2008.

1620 Rhine St., Spring Hill, Pittsburgh
Centre Avenue Mansions, North Oakland - DEMOLISHED 
The residential block between N. Craig and N. Dithridge, facing Centre Avenue. Demolished for a condo development. Pictured below is one of the homes on this block, 4504 Centre Ave.

4504 Centre Avenue, Pittsburgh
841 Suismon St., North Side DEMOLISHED
Many readers of my blog are familiar with this small Victorian home at 841 Suismon Street, in Pittsburgh's Deutschtown neighborhood. I have documentated the deteriorating conditions of this vacant and neglected property since 2010. Sadly, like many other historically significant but neglected properties in the Pittsburgh region, it was demolished as of June 22, 2013.
Click here for an update on the property (Oct., 2012)
841 Suismon St., Pittsburgh
East Wheeling Historic District, Wheeling, West Virginia DEMOLISHED
A large section of the East Wheeling Historic District is threatened with eminent domain and demolition. Click here for more information and pictures of the buildings to be razed.

Section of East Wheeling Historic District to be razed.

1810 Walz St., Spring Hill (Pittsburgh) SAVED

1810 Walz St., Pittsburgh
1846 Damas St., Spring Hill (Pittsburgh)
This abandoned, tax-delinquent property could be a charming home.

1846 Damas St., Pittsburgh
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.

32 Woessner St., Pittsburgh
Boyle Street houses, North Side
Discovering Historic Pittsburgh was instrumental in bringing about awareness of the proposed demolitions of three historic 19th century homes in the Central North Side on Boyle St., two of which were saved from the wrecking ball by CNNC. If you are interested in purchasing one of these homes to restore, please contact Jim Lawrence of the CNNC:

1423 Boyle St., North Side

1413 Boyle St., North Side

Abandoned Victorians, McKeesport, PA
A pair of proud, crumbling Victorian mansions still stand near the corner of Shaw and Lincoln in McKeesport. Will someone restore these fading symbols of McKeesport's glory days before they are torn down?

626 Market Street, McKeesport, PA  DEMOLISHED (2014)
A once grand Victorian mansion stands (now demolished as of 2014) at 626 Market Street in McKeesport. It is owned by the City of McKeesport, who have threatened to demolish it. This was the Dr. Henry Hitzrot House, built in 1892, and designed by noted Pittsburgh architect Frederick Sauer. Read more here.

Penn-McKee Hotel, McKeesport, PA
The Penn-McKee Hotel was once McKeesport's leading hotel.  It is now vacant.  It stands near Fifth and Strawberry in downtown McKeesport.

Jefferson School, Wheeling, WV  DEMOLISHED
This former school is now abandoned. It rises above the highway from the East Wheeling neighborhood. Address: 1401 McColloch St., Wheeling, WV.

Former Municipal Building, Homestead SAVED
Former Homestead Municipal Building, circa 1905. Vacant since 1987. Located at the corner of 9th and Amity St.

Lamar Building, Oakland  DEMOLISHED as of January, 2013
The stately old Lamar Building stands near the intersection of Fifth Avenue and Maurice Street. New residential development plans may call for this building to be demolished, but hopefully it can be preserved. It seems ideal for a loft/apartment conversion.

Saint Peter and Paul School, East Liberty
The remains of the former Saint Peter and Paul School of East Liberty stands just off of Enright Court, proud and dignified even as it crumbles into dust. With the continued revitalization of the East Liberty neighborhood, the future of this beautiful building might not be hopeless.

The 2000 block of Forbes Avenue, Pittsburgh (Bluff)
Somehow, this block of breathtaking, ravaged Victorian architecture symbolizes all of the faded glory and grandeur of the Steel City. All of Pittsburgh's 19th century vernacular architecture is represented here -- from the mansard-roofed Italianate row-house to the stone neighborhood church. The saddest thing is that most of the houses on this block are utterly abandoned and waiting for the bulldozer. Recent investments in the Bluff neighborhood, which is home to Duquesne University and adjacent to downtown and Oakland, have been the Console Energy Arena, several apartment buildings, and the conversion of the old Fifth Avenue School into upscale lofts. These great buildings should be next on the list.

210 Talbot Avenue, Braddock
This faded Victorian is abandoned and has been tax delinquent for years, making it eligible for the Allegheny County Vacant Property Recovery Program. Be the one to restore this jewel in the rough!

1817 Fifth Avenue is a Victorian home located in the Bluff neighborhood of Pittsburgh. Abandoned, like much of the neighborhood, it awaits an uncertain future. The Bluff is quickly becoming the next urban prairie in Pittsburgh. Hopefully, this great building can survive.

The Old Stone Tavern, located at the intersection of Woodville Avenue and Greentree Rd. in the West End, is the second oldest building still standing in Pittsburgh. It dates from the 18th century and only the Fort Pitt Blockhouse is older. The Old Stone Tavern was made a city historic landmark, narrowly saving it from demolition, for now..

The Odd Fellows Hall - SAVED, at the corner of Steuben and Wabash St. in West End Village, was built during the Civil War, in 1865, and is a fantastic piece of urban architecture. Lately, work has been completed on this long vacant building, which suggests that it should be around for a while longer!

Old Stone Home in Beltzhoover - corner of Climax and Curtin Avenue, city of Pittsburgh. Possibly the Melchor Beltzhoover house, circa 18th century?  See more photographs here.

This four-story Victorian office building (SAVED) is located at the corner of Penn Avenue and 32nd Street in the Strip District. It is abandoned, but sits in a prime location awaiting potential adaptive re-use. Older buildings developed into condos and upscale apartments have been successful in this thriving urban/industrial neighborhood. Update: this building is being restored.

This handsome, six-story office building is located near the corner of 1st Avenue and Market Street, in the Wharf Historic District of Downtown Pittsburgh. Although abandoned, it would make an ideal apartment building, student housing, offices, condo development, or boutique hotel. Downtown has very few abandoned buildings left for development, and this is full of historic character.

The "Wentz Hotel" is a 19th century Victorian hotel located at the corner of Evergreen and John St. in Millvale. It does not appear to be currently in use. It is a beautiful example of a historic rooming house.


  1. Thank you for documenting these amazing and neglected structures.

    1. why does it have to be abandon.

  2. The old stone tavern is not abandoned, it is owned and occupied by a masonary company.

  3. Yes, the Old Stone Tavern is owned by a masonry company that wanted to tear the building down. It currently is vacant and neglected.

  4. church on Forbs ??? how long been Vacant

  5. I want to live in the 2000 block of Forbes!

  6. Any updates on the homes in North Oakland? It would be sad to see them knocked down for a 17-story building!

  7. 210 Talbot Avenue, Braddock
    This faded Victorian is abandoned and has been tax delinquent for years, making it eligible for the Allegheny County Vacant Property Recovery Program. Be the one to restore this jewel in the rough!

    I am very interested in saving this property.. Just hope can get in contact and somehow aquire it before demolished .. poor credit... Love it

  8. AnonymousJune 27, 2012

    Im very interested in the old homestead Municipal building . Would you know who the current owner is? Also Im a haunted house designer looking for a building in the Pittsburgh area to build a haunt in. Im looking for building thats big 15000+ square feet big with high ceilings,open floor plans and a cheap purchase price. Do you know of any? Ive been looking for years with out a lot of luck. I'll look here for comments or you can email me at I thank you for your time and your work in saving Pittsburgh's history.

  9. A group of small, mostly non-profit theater companies is looking for a building to convert into performances space(s). None of the companies has enough money to spend a large amount of money to purchase, but we have a lot of people willing to do some major sweat equity to turn the building into a productive arts center. Any suggestions?

    1. Check out the Odd Fellows Hall at the corner of Steuben and Wabash Street in the West End. That building is currently vacant and seems like it might be perfect for your needs. You can find and contact the owner through the Allegheny County Assessment site.

  10. I'm very interested in this place described below. Can you give an address for this place so I can inquire about how to move forward?

    This handsome, six-story office building is located near the corner of 1st Avenue and Market Street, in the Wharf Historic District of Downtown Pittsburgh.

    Thank you,

    1. The address is 209 1st Avenue, Pittsburgh, PA 15222. Here is a link to the building's listing on the county assessment site:

  11. Hey do you know if any of these are easily accessible to get inside? I have been in the Talbot street Braddock one you mentioned there is currently no front door... Im a photographer and live abandoned interiors. I have my most recent Braddock photos in my blog thanks!

  12. The area on Centre between N. Dithridge and N. Craig is not abandoned, unless this is something that happened since May of 2010. At least two of those houses contain fraternities. I know this from first hand experience from living behind them for 9 months, and hearing their parties at 1 am every weekend.

    1. I know they are not abandoned. However, they are (or were) "endangered." This is a list of abandoned and/or endangered buildings. Thanks for the update!

  13. Thank you for your amazing work. I'm glad someone is creating awareness about these beautiful buildings.
    There's another house in the uptown area that is for sale:

    I'm not sure if it's abandoned but it looks like it's taxes haven't been paid for a few years. Sadly, a couple of the rowhouses next to it have been pulled down (and made into a surface lot!!) But maybe someone out there would like to save this building with it's beautiful details. A number of other houses on that street have been fixed up and one block over is the tech-startup building (a beautiful large victorian). My husband works there and his landlords, Dale & Jean McNutt are strong campaigners for uptown's revitalization.

    If I were young and child-free I would seriously consider undertaking a rehab project there. I think uptown has a lot to offer and is in a terrific location where you bus/bike or even walk to downtown, oakland and southside.

    Please, someone, save that house.

  14. what is you stance on de construction for salvage? Some of these homes are so far gone that they dont make finacial sence to restore but are full of bits and peices that would make historical restorations on many other homes that are worth saving. I agree that abadoned homes are a great resorse that should be delt with. Thanks for reading and I look forward to hearing any thoughts.

    1. Mixed feelings. If the house can't be restored, then certainly salvage is the best option. However, I don't like to see restoreable homes gutted of their character, because then it becomes all the more likely that they won't be restored. So, yes, I believe in salvage, but only when all other options fail.

  15. Thanks for taking the time to post these. It is really upsetting how many cool old buildings and houses are abandoned around here. I think the city should just give these places away to people who are willing to restore them. They could promote this idea all around the country. A free house would entice many people to relocate to Pittsburgh. Especially people who work from home on the web. Instead the city is just letting them waste away and then will eventually have to pay for demolition. It's so wasteful.

  16. AnonymousMay 02, 2013

    Hello! A friend and I are coming from Columbus OH to do a little urban photography in Pittsburgh. Would anyone want to join us? Please contact me at

  17. Hello, I photograph abandon buildings and I'll be in town the 17th and 18th this month (August 17th and 18th)would love to find someone to exploring some of these building! Please write me at

  18. Check out 850 Tripoli Street, North Side. Was once a very beautiful house with a huge backyard.

  19. just visited the place on colfax and park in mckeesport. beautiful place but id love to get inside (if its still safe). Also, there is a huge building on Larimer St. in East liberty that its amazing. its definitely abandoned and absolutely gigantic. i have no idea what it was but on google maps it says that its "fishers of men community development corporation". theres nothing online about it and the number to it is disconnected. Think you can find some info on it? 540 Larimer Ave. Pittsburgh, PA 15206

  20. Thank you for publishing this fantastic blog! My husband and I are working on purchasing a 1910 house in Pittsburgh. We both love Victorian architecture and I really appreciate your efforts.
    I will contact you if our sale goes through!

  21. GREAT WEB PAGE !! Thank you for your work to help save these architectural gems !!!

  22. Are there any structures that are available to be internaly explored ???

  23. AnonymousMay 23, 2016

    The Wentz Hotel in Millvale was owned by Ed Voit who married Dorthy Steindorf who was married to Wentz Steindorf for whom the building was renamed. Prior to this it was the King Hotel in the 1940's-50's and maybe earlier. The King's lived across Evergreen Ave in the brownstone house. The King Hotel was a classy place in it's day with white table cloths and big band music. It was famous for its turtle soup which was sold by the quart. Today the hotel is essentially a derelict building. ~Great-grandson of Albert King the former owner.

  24. E Lacock & Voegtly is one I used to walk by everyday. I am always hoping it will find a savior.