Saturday, July 28, 2018

RIP: 439 Atlantic Avenue (McKeesport Demolition List)

439 Atlantic Avenue (McKeesport)

This is 439 Atlantic Avenue, a modest circa 1890 Victorian home in the lower 10th Ward. It is slated for demolition, as are a multitude of other 19th century homes in this compact, historic neighborhood.

The lower 10th Ward was once the borough of Reynoldton, laid out in the 1860s by Thomas Reynolds, and was annexed by the city of McKeesport in 1898. Many of the surviving homes of Reynoldton date to the 1860s-1890s. They are generally modest homes built for the working class of the Industrial Age, and they are fascinating. Many are of the wood-sided, two-bay or three-bay vernacular variety that were once extremely common in McKeesport and other Mon Valley towns. While most have been updated over the years, some retain rare original details, such as Dutch Lap wood siding, Victorian millwork around doors and windows, lovely wavy glass window panes, and interior features such as wooden mantels, vintage light fixtures, and ornate staircases.

The McKeesport demolition list has called for a number of Reynoldton's early homes to be demolished, including 300 in the city of McKeesport overall. Some are beyond repair, and some have been remodeled in ways that have destroyed their integrity or historical value. However, there are a few homes, like 439 Atlantic Avenue, that should never have been placed on a demolition list.

This home is a special and rare example of the Reynoldton vernacular. It retains numerous original exterior details, and is solid enough to re
store. It should have been stabilized, mothballed, and re-sold. Progressive cities do this. Sadly, it is not the only good house on the demolition list.

The coming demolition of so many homes in the lower 10th Ward will almost certainly destroy the fabric of the neighborhood. One need look only to the 3rd Ward to see how mass demolition affects an urban neighborhood.

Please visit my 2014 Photo Tour of the Lower Tenth Ward (McKeesport)


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