Robert and Martha Graham had 840 North Lincoln Avenue built between 1861 and 1863.The house was constructed on a lot that Martha Graham had purchased for $450 in 1861. It was one of the first houses built on North Lincoln Avenue (originally Central Street) following the 1858 subdivision of land bounded by Ridge, Allegheny and Western avenues and Brighton Road.
The Grahams almost certainly had 840 North Lincoln Avenue built in the Italianate style, the most popular architectural style in southwestern Pennsylvania between the late 1850s and the 1880s. The architectural firm Kiehnel and Elliott designed a 1918 remodeling with elements of the Mission and Spanish Eclectic styles. Kiehnel and Elliott designed a number of significant buildings in Pittsburgh and southern Florida between 1906 and 1930, and several examples of the firm’s work are listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
The 1858 subdivision of the Irwin rope walk property created the lot on which 840 North Lincoln Avenue stands, and the street itself. The Irwin family operated a rope walk, or factory, between 1813 and 1858. Robert Graham managed the rope walk for the Irwins in the 1850s, and possibly earlier. While living at 840 North Lincoln Avenue, Graham worked as a salesman, superintendent, watchman, and laborer.
Martha Jane “Mattie” Graham, a daughter of Robert and Martha, lived in the house for years after her parents’ deaths. She was prominent in her own right as one of the first female public school principals in Pittsburgh, serving in that position at the Grant School on Grant Street, Downtown between about 1879 and 1912. When she died in 1919, Pittsburgh newspapers noted that the banker Andrew Mellon was among her former students, and Andrew Carnegie was a friend.
Harry and Margaret Teufel bought 840 North Lincoln Avenue in 1917, and had the house remodeled the following year. Harry Teufel was then a Pittsburgh Gage & Supply Company salesman, and had previously operated hotels in Pittsburgh, Allegheny City and Beaver Falls. He and Margaret Teufel had no children, and the 1920 census found them living at 840 North Lincoln Avenue with a lodger named Margaret Thomas. The Teufels sold the house later in 1920, for $13,000.
The former Graham house at 840 North Lincoln Avenue has now had a total of 19 owners.
Detailed information on the history of the house is contained in the following report.
- March 17, 1790
- November 2, 1813
- March 9, 1816
- October 14, 1861
- February 21, 1879
- June 17, 1896
- December 31, 1901
- April 8, 1916
- April 18, 1916
- July 7. 1916
- December 12, 1917
- December 12, 1917
- May 1, 1920
- February 6, 1946
- February 9, 1946
- December 9, 1952
- December 20, 1952
- May 27, 1953
- August 18, 1958
- September 27, 1961
- February 24, 1982
- March 14, 1988
- September 22, 1999
- December 28, 2004
- June 8, 2007
Charles Wilkins, merchant, of the town of Pittsburgh conveyed property that included the site of 840 North Lincoln Avenue to John Irwin, esquire, of the town of Pittsburgh for £30. This deed conveyed Out Lot 276 in the Reserve Tract Opposite Pittsburgh and Lot 69 in the town of Allegheny. Out Lot 276 was a ten-acre tract of land situated on the western side of land laid out for a common and bounded by what are now Brighton Road and Ridge, Galveston and Western avenues. Lot 69 in the town of Allegheny was a 60’ wide by 240’ deep lot at the corner of East Ohio and Sandusky streets.
John Irwin died intestate. He was survived by his widow, Mary, and four children: Margaret, John, William F. and Elizabeth.
(Deed Book Volume 2, Page 97)
William F. Irwin of the borough of Pittsburgh, one of the sons and heirs of John Irwin, rope maker, conveyed Out Lots 276, 263 and 268 in the Reserve Tract Opposite Pittsburgh, containing ten acres each, and property on Liberty Avenue in Pittsburgh to John Irwin of the borough of Pittsburgh for $1772.
(DBV 19 P 127)
John, Elizabeth, and Margaret Irwin, all of Allegheny town, amicably partitioned property that had belonged to John Irwin, deceased. John Irwin received title to Out Lot 276 in the Reserve Tract Opposite Pittsburgh, and other property.
(Deed Book 22: 189)
John and Abigail Irwin of Allegheny County conveyed a lot that contained the present site of 840 North Lincoln Avenue to Martha Graham of Allegheny City for S450. The lot measured 24’ wide by 140’9-5/8” deep, and was known as Lot 51 in a plan of lots laid out by John Irwin
(DBV 151 P 437) (Plan Book Volume 2, Page 173)
Martha Graham died on February 21, 1879. In her will, dated January 16, 1879, she left 840 North Lincoln Avenue to her husband, Robert Graham, during his life, with title to pass at his death to her son, William F. Graham, and daughter, Martha Jane Graham. Robert Graham died on December 31, 1883. William F. Graham died on June 24, 1889, survived by his widow, Mary E. Graham, and one child, Bessie Graham.
(Will Book Volume 22, Page 52)
Martha Jane Graham, Bessie Graham and Mary E. Graham, all of Allegheny City, conveyed 840 North Lincoln Avenue to B.F. Jones of Allegheny City for $13,000.
(DBV 943 P 180)
Benjamin F. and Mary McMasters Jones of Allegheny City conveyed 840 North Lincoln Avenue to Elizabeth M. Horne of Pittsburgh for $1.
(DBV 1154 P 371)
Elizabeth M. Horne of Sewickley Heights conveyed 840 and 838 North Lincoln Avenue to Richard E. McClure of Pittsburgh for $1 and other considerations (tax stamps suggest a price of $10,000).
(DBV 1850 P 412)
Richard E. McClure of Pittsburgh conveyed 840 and 838 North Lincoln Avenue to Thomas H. Hasson of Pittsburgh for $1 and other considerations (tax stamps suggest a price of $7,500).
(Deed Book 1850: 411)
Thomas H. and Amelia S. Hasson of Pittsburgh conveyed 840 North Lincoln Avenue to Bernard B. McGinnis of Pittsburgh for $4,800. This conveyance was subject to two unrecorded May 1, 1916 agreements between Thomas H. Hasson and T.C. Hill: (1) that the lavatory built on the house at 838 North Lincoln Avenue, which encroached upon the lot at 840 North Lincoln Avenue, was to be removed by the said T.C. Hill within 30 days written notice to do so, the material therein and the contents thereof to be the property of the said T.C. Hill; and (2) that the bath room attached to the property at 840 North Lincoln Avenue, which was attached to and encroached upon the wall of 838 North Lincoln Avenue, was to be removed at the expense of Hasson any time upon 30 days written notice from T.C. Hill to do so.
(DBV 1865 P 192)
Bernard B. McGinnis of Pittsburgh conveyed 840 North Lincoln Avenue to Frank X. Behen of Penn Township for $5,000. This deed and subsequent deeds conveyed the lot on which the house now stands, consisting of Lot 51 in the Irwin plan excepting a narrow triangular strip of ground that Bernard B. McGinnis had conveyed to Martha Jane Graham, then owner of the property at 842 North Lincoln Avenue. The strip of ground was described as beginning at a point 12’6” north of North Lincoln Avenue at the line dividing Lots 50 and 51 in the John Irwin plan of lots and running northwest 69.5’, southwest 7.375”, and southeast 69.5’ to the place of beginning.
(DBV 1923 P 13) (DBV 1890 P 72)
Frank X. and Mary S. Behen of Penn Township conveyed 840 North Lincoln Avenue to Harry P. Teufel of Pittsburgh for $6,500.
(DBV 1923 P 11)
Harry P. and Margaret I. Teufel of Pittsburgh conveyed 840 North Lincoln Avenue to William C. McNamara of Pittsburgh for $13,000.
(DBV 1992 P 614)
William C. and Mary McNamara of Pittsburgh conveyed 840 North Lincoln Avenue to Margaret P. McNamara of Pittsburgh in consideration of $1 and love and affection.
(DBV 2873 P 349)
Margaret P. McNamara of Pittsburgh conveyed 840 North Lincoln Avenue to William C. and Mary McNamara of Pittsburgh for $1 and other considerations.
(DBV 2879 P 222)
Title to 840 North Lincoln Avenue was placed in the names of Mary McNamara, Margaret P. Neuberger and Kathryn M. Mitchell.
(DBV 3369 P 385)
Mary McNamara died on December 20, 1952. Her sole heirs were her two daughters, Kathryn M. Mitchell and Margaret P. Neuberger.
L. Clair and Kathryn M. Mitchell of Mt. Lebanon and Margaret P. and Raymond F. Neuberger of Pittsburgh conveyed 840 North Lincoln Avenue to Kamel and Zahwa Shaheen of Pittsburgh for $11,000.
(DBV 3254 P 397)
Kamel and Zahwa Shaheen of Pittsburgh conveyed 840 North Lincoln Avenue to Walter D. and Anna Belle Shelton of Pittsburgh for $11,000.
(DBV 3705 P 633)
Walter D. and Anna Belle Shelton of Pittsburgh conveyed 840 North Lincoln Avenue to Marion Thomas of Pittsburgh for $12,000.
(DBV 3918 P 473)
The estate of Marion Thomas conveyed 840 North Lincoln Avenue and 838 North Lincoln Avenue to Philip W. Thomas, her son
(DBV 6446 P 423)
Philip W. Thomas of Allegheny County conveyed 840 North Lincoln Avenue to Michael R. Bozzone of Allegheny County for $38,000.
(DBV 7744 P 471)
Michael R. and Natalie M. Bozzone conveyed 840 North Lincoln Avenue to John Bartholomew Holt for $133,000.
(DBV 10590 P 584)
John Bartholomew Holt conveyed 840 North Lincoln Avenue to Cory D. and Kari J. Reslerfor $209,900.
(DBV 12315 P 339)
Douglas Debelak and Debra E. Kelly purchased 840 North Lincoln Avenue from Cory D. and Kari J. Resler on June 8, 2007.
(DBV 13270 P 573)
Age of the House
Local historical records indicate that Robert and Martha Graham had 840 North Lincoln Avenue built between 1862 and 1863. Harry P. and Margaret Teufel had the house remodeled with elements of the Mission and Spanish Eclectic styles in 1918.
An 1862 map depicting building coverage in Allegheny City and Pittsburgh does not show any buildings on North Lincoln Avenue. The 1863 and 1864 Pittsburgh city directories listed Robert Graham, Martha Graham’s husband, as living in an un-numbered house on Central Street (now North Lincoln Avenue) near Tremont (now Galveston) Street for the first time.
Allegheny County mortgage records contain no record of any loan that could have been used to finance construction of 840 North Lincoln Avenue.
Remodeling in 1918
The Architects: Kiehnel and Elliott
The architectural firm that designed the 1918 remodeling of 840 North Lincoln Avenue was a partnership of Richard Kiehnel of 910 Jancey Street, Morningside, and John B. Elliott of 212 Amber Street in East Liberty. In 1918, Kiehnel and Elliott had offices at 245 Fourth Avenue in Downtown Pittsburgh.
The Mission and Spanish Eclectic styles were both popular at the time that 840 North Lincoln Avenue was remodeled. A Field Guide to American Houses by Virginia and Lee McAlester (1992) states that the Mission style was popular between about 1890 and 1920, and the Spanish Eclectic style was in use between about 1915 and 1940.
The form of 840 North Lincoln Avenue and the house’s original construction in the 1860s indicate that the house was almost certainly built in the ltalianate style, the most popular architectural in the Pittsburgh area between the late 1850s and the mid-1880s. .
ltalianate interiors often included flared newel posts and spindles, marble or wood mantels with arched openings, four-panel doors with porcelain knobs and ornamented cast iron hinges, and non-symmetrical door and window trim. In the Pittsburgh area, many ltalianate houses were built with stairways that incorporated landings located about three steps below the main level of the second floor. Most local ltalianate houses also featured two-over-two double-hung windows, although some later or larger examples were constructed with one-over-one double-hung windows.
Street Name and Numbering
The house at 840 North Lincoln Avenue was originally an unnumbered house on Central Street. The street was renamed Lincoln Avenue within about a year after President Abraham Lincoln was assassinated in 1865, and house numbers were assigned on the street in 1866 or 1867. The house was re-numbered 840 when the Northside’s modern street numbering system was put in place in 1899.
Lincoln Avenue became Lynndale Avenue in about 1909, when Pittsburgh city government changed a number of street named to avoid duplication that resulted from Pittsburgh’s 1907 annexation of Allegheny City (now the Northside). The street was renamed North Lincoln Avenue in about 1913.
The Home Today
Photos by Chris Siewers
Pittsburgh city directories, U.S. census records, an obituary, a will, and other sources provide information on Robert and Martha Graham, the first owners of 840 North Lincoln Avenue, and their daughter, Martha Jane Graham, who owned and lived in the house until 1896.
The Teufels’ purchase and remodeling of 840 North Lincoln Avenue represented a considerable investment within a short time, and suggests that the couple did well financially in the second half of the 1920s.
The 1900 census enumerated William P. Gregg as the head of the household at 840 North Lincoln Avenue. Gregg, 55, was unmarried and had been born in Pennsylvania to Irish immigrants. The census recorded Gregg with no occupation; some Pittsburgh directories listed him as a hatter, a hat salesman, or as a clerk.
Other members of Gregg’s household in 1900 were:
- his sister, Anna Gregg Roberts, 45, who was living apart from her husband; she had no occupation
- Mary C. Roberts, 15, the only child of Anna Gregg Roberts
- Martha Gregg Atwell, 59, a sister of William and Anna, and the widow of Charles Atwell
The 1917 Pittsburgh directory listed Florence Place, a teacher at Latimer Junior High School at Tripoli and James Streets in Deutschtown, as living at 840 North Lincoln Avenue. James Place, a laborer, and Lula Place, with no occupation, also lived in the house.
The 1930 Census
In 1930, the McNamaras had been married for 11 years. They had two children: Catherine, ten, and Patrick, nine.
The 1930 census is the last census that provides information on residents of 840 North Lincoln Avenue. Manuscript census records are withheld from public view for 72 years, to protect the privacy of persons who were enumerated.
During and immediately after the Civil War, following the 1858 subdivision of the rope walk property, North Lincoln Avenue developed as a mixture of middle-class housing and mansions. The new Allegheny West neighborhood became a desirable alternative to older sections of Allegheny City like the East and South Commons and lower Federal Street, which contained residential, commercial and industrial land uses. Many of the original residents of the mansions and middle-class houses that line North Lincoln Avenue were merchants and manufacturers who previously lived in Downtown Pittsburgh or older sections of Allegheny City.
840 North Lincoln Avenue occupies part of the site of a rope walk, or factory, that was operated by members of the Irwin family until 1858.
The following materials accompany this report:
- a copy of part of an 1872 plat map of the Second Ward of Allegheny City
- copies of parts of fire insurance maps of the area around 840 North Lincoln Avenue, published in 1884, 1893, 1906 and 1926
- a copy of the will of Martha Graham (Allegheny County Will Book Volume 22, Page 52)
- information on Martha Jane Graham, from The Social Mirror (1888)
- the obituary of Martha Jane Graham, from the Pittsburgh Gazette Times, July 23, 1919
- information on Harry P. Teufel, from Men of this Big Town of Ours as Seen by “Appy” (1916)
- the obituary of Harry P. Teufel, from the Pittsburgh Press, June 5, 1933
A Researched History
By: Carol J. Peterson
all photos by Chris Siewers, unless otherwise notedTags: n lincoln avenue