Sunday, December 29, 2013

Preservation Losses - 2013

As 2013 comes to a close, let's review some of the more notable preservation losses of the year.

1.  St. Nicholas Croatian Church - North Side (Demolished in January, 2013). Built 1900-1901. Designated a City of Pittsburgh Historic Landmark, but this designation did not protect the building in the end. The demolition of this building perhaps set a precedent for the future demolition of city designated landmarks. Read more about St. Nicholas, and see pictures of the building here.

2.  Brody Block - Oil City (Demolished in April, 2013). Fortunately, I was able to photograph this building in March, shortly before demolition. The Redevelop Oil City community group raised funds to level this historic block, and was ignorant and careless of the importance of historic preservation in community revitalization. They chose to have an undeveloped lot instead of a vacant building.   See more photographs here.

Brody Block - Oil City. Demolished in April, 2013.
3.  Jefferson School - Wheeling, West Virginia (Demolished January, 2013). Also known as the "Imperial Pools" Building, this was an abandoned, late 19th century school. It stood at 1401 McCulloch Street. It was demolished by the city of Wheeling in January, and was just one of many recent preservation losses faced by the depressed city. Fortunately, Wheeling has an excellent preservation group working to change that, but the list of doomed historic buildings keeps growing..

Jefferson School - 1401 McCulloch Street, Wheeling, WV (Demolished 2013). One of many preservation losses in the historic river city.
4.  841 Suismon Street - North Side (Demolished in June, 2013). This was one of the more interesting and saddening casualties of the city of Pittsburgh's historic demolition spree, which mostly takes place in depressed urban neighborhoods, and affects 19th century working class homes to an alarming degree. The neighborhood in question is the east side of Deutschtown, on the North Side, one of the oldest and most endangered neighborhoods in the city of Pittsburgh. The house was a circa 1875 Victorian. It may have been small, but it was not modest.  See currently endangered 19th century working class homes in East Deutschtown and Spring Garden.

841 Suismon St. (North Side, Pittsburgh) - Demolished June, 2013.
5. Lamar Building - Oakland / Pittsburgh (Demolished January, 2013). This was a historic building in the city which was seemingly demolished under the radar. It was not a historic landmark, and nobody came to fight for it at the end. It added much to the urban fabric of Oakland.

Lamar Building - Oakland (Pittsburgh) - Demolished January, 2013.

6. Chateau Street (Manchester / Pittsburgh). Most of the buildings in this photograph were demolished in 2013. Many preservation losses have occurred on Chateau Street, in Pittsburgh's Manchester neighborhood. This is in spite of the neighborhood being protected by a city of Pittsburgh preservation ordinance. 

Chateau Street - Manchester (North Side - Pittsburgh). Most of the buildings in this picture have been demolished. One of many preservation losses on this street in the city's historic district.

7. Forbes Avenue (Bluff - Pittsburgh). Heartbreaking demolition in the 2000 block.  

There have been many more historic building demolitions. The city of Pittsburgh continues to demolish its historic housing stock, particularly in depressed neighborhoods, at an alarming rate. The older suburbs and river towns continue to decline and demolish, without preservation ordinances to protect their architecture. It is sad, but my goal is to inspire, not depress!  The great buildings we lose need to be documented and remembered, so that we can learn and prevent future preservation losses.

Please share information and knowledge of local preservation losses in the comment section below!

Monday, December 16, 2013

McKeesport Photo Tour Updates

I have been very active with my photography in the McKeesport area, since I moved there last month. Please be sure to visit the updated McKeesport Photo Tour, which includes all of my recent photography.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Old Stone House in Beltzhoover

This is located at the intersection of Climax and Curtin Avenue in Beltzhoover (City of Pittsburgh).

According to a friend who researched the home, it may be the Melchor Beltzhoover house, circa 18th century.

Photographs taken by Jonathon Denson in October, 2013.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

The "Shotgun" Houses of McKeesport

Did you know that "Shotgun" houses existed in the North?  These narrow, modest worker homes are located on Scott Street and Scott Street Rear in McKeesport, PA. It is something of a miracle that they have survived. They probably date to the early 20th century.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Pittsburgh Vernacular: The "Mill House"

Here is an example of a classic Pittsburgh house. While the style may be seen elsewhere, these types of houses are very common in the southern hilltop neighborhoods of the city (Allentown), Elliott, and some of the old steel towns in the Mon Valley.  The "mill house" is usually a two story, upright, wood-framed dwelling, with two or three window bays on the second floor. There may or may not be a porch. They are usually seen with decorative trim typical of the Victorian era, when most of these houses were built, unless the house has been stripped and re-sided (not unlikely) over the decades. Some of these houses may date back to the Civil War era or earlier. They were modest, but well-built, and intended for the working class of the day.

Woods Run

Homestead. Note the porch.

This is the slightly larger variant. Notice that there are three windows on the second floor. Located in Braddock.

North Braddock

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Lebanon, PA

Lebanon is the county seat of Lebanon County, Pennsylvania. The city is dense, urban, and historic, located approximately 25 miles from two other historic Pennsylvania cities, Harrisburg and Reading.  The population of Lebanon is about 25,000 people, not far off from its 1960 population peak of 30,000, and it's growing. 

This was by far one of the most well-preserved American cities I have ever visited. The business district and Victorian era residential districts seemed wonderfully intact and most appeared to be well-maintained, as far as these old towns go. The contrast between some of the eastern and western PA cities is rather startling. Decay, abandonment, and urban prairie do not seem to be as commonplace, outside of western PA. Based on the negative things I had heard about the town, I was not prepared for the strikingly beautiful, well-kept, and friendly village I discovered. 

The downtown was full of cute boutique businesses, from coffee shops and ice cream shops to clothing stores.