info@alleghenywest.org
806 Western Ave, Pittsburgh, PA 15233

940 W North Avenue

940 W North Avenue (Front)

Introduction

William D. Hamilton, a second-generation coffin manufacturer, commissioned construction of 940 West North Avenue in 1895. Hamilton had the house built at an estimated cost of $10,000, on a lot that he had purchased for $8000 earlier the same year. Perry Hilltop building contractor Robert J Graham constructed 940 West North Avenue in an eclectic manner that incorporated elements of several late nineteenth century architectural styles.

William D. Hamilton was a partner in Hamilton, Lemmon, Arnold & Company, which manufactured coffins in Manchester, when he had 940 West North Avenue built. His father, William Hamilton, had helped found the business in the l860’s. William D. Hamilton became president of the firm, renamed the National Casket Company, in about 1908.

William D. Hamilton and his wife, Caroline P. Hamilton, lived at 940 West North Avenue until 1908. Census records show that the couple, who had no children, employed two servants who lived at 940 West North Avenue. In 1908, around the time that William D. Hamilton became president of the National Casket Company, the Hamiltons sold 940 West North Avenue and moved to Fifth Avenue in Shadyside.

Between 1908 and 1929, 940 West North Avenue was owned by a series of owners who used it as a rental property. During at least part of this time, the house was rented to Iona T. McAfee, a widow who lived there with her grown children and took in lodgers.

Edward and Barbara Schindler and other members of the Schindler family owned 940 West North Avenue between 1929 and 1947. Although the Schindlers used 940 West North Avenue as a six-unit apartment building for a brief time in the early 1930s, they lived in the house during most of the time that they owned it. Edward Schindler was the owner of Eddie’s Smoke Shop, a cigar store and billiard hall, in the present Allegheny Center Mall area.

Ownership

  • January 9, 1895
  • February 20, 1895
  • January 10, 1908
  • August 17, 1908
  • December 31, 1924
  • October 3, 1925
  • June 28, 1927
  • June 30, 1927
  • November 30, 1927
  • April 8, 1929
  • April 21, 1933
  • May 7, 1940
  • August 5, 1942
  • May 2, 1946
  • August 22, 1947
  • October 31, 1950
  • June 1, 1952
  • April 1, 1990
  • September 23, 1991
  • December 18, 1993

Harmar D. and Elizabeth B.M. Denny of Pittsburgh conveyed the lot on which 940 West North Avenue now stands to William J. Prentice of Pittsburgh for $6860. The lot measured 40′ wide by 100′ deep and was known as Lots 10 and 11 in Block 6 of the Plan of Property made for Robert Mc.Knight and William M. Paxton, executors of the estate of Elizabeth F. Denny (Plan Book Volume 6, Page 193). This deed included the requirement that any building constructed on the lot be set back the same distance from North Avenue as houses occupying adjoining lots.

(Deed Book Volume 892, Page 385)

William I. and Eveline B. Prentice of Pittsburgh conveyed the lot on which 940 West North Avenue now stands to William D. Hamilton of Pittsburgh for $8000.

(DBV 893 P 585)

William D. and Caroline P. Hamilton conveyed 940 West North Avenue to Stephen H. Lloyd of Pittsburgh for $1 and other good consideration.

(DBV 1526 P 568)

Stephen H. and Mary Wilson Lloyd of Pittsburgh conveyed 940 West North Avenue to Leonard Rauwolf of Pittsburgh for $1 and other valuable considerations.

(DBV 1597 P 577)

Leonard and Veronica B. Rauwolf of Pittsburgh conveyed 940 West North Avenue to Eugene P. Rauwolf, Marie C. Rauwolf and Robert J. Rauwolf, all of Pittsburgh, as trustees, for $1 and other good and valuable considerations. This deed also conveyed property in Downtown Pittsburgh, East Liberty, Garfield, McKeesport, Lawrence County, Manchester, Baldwin and Washington County.

(DBV 2246 P 592)

Leonard Rauwolf died on October 3, 1925.

Veronica Rauwolf conveyed her interest in 940 West North Avenue to Eugene P. Rauwolf, Marie C. Rauwolf, and Robert J. Rauwolf on June 28, 1927.

Eugene P. Rauwolf, Marie C. Rauwolf, and Robert J. Rauwolf, all of Pittsburgh, as trustees, conveyed 940 West North Avenue to Joseph Solomon of New Kensington, Westmoreland County, for $1 and other valuable considerations.

(DBV 2327 P 482)

Joseph Solomon of New Kensington conveyed 940 West North Avenue to Isaac Reck of Pittsburgh for $1 and other good and valuable considerations.

(DBV 2354 P 101)

Isaac and Gussie Reck of Pittsburgh conveyed 940 West North Avenue to Edward Schindler of Pittsburgh for $1 and other good and valuable considerations.

(DBV 2391 P 172)

Edward and Barbara M. Schindler of Pittsburgh conveyed 940 West North Avenue to Louis A. Schindler of Pittsburgh for $1.

(DBV 2481 P 171)

Louis A. Schindler of Pittsburgh conveyed 940 West North Avenue to Edward W. Schindler of Pittsburgh for $1.

(DBV 2647 P 662)

Edward W, and Barbara M. Schindler of Pittsburgh conveyed 940 West North A venue to Bertha M. Schindler of Pittsburgh for $1 and other valuable considerations.

(DBV 2727 P 641)

Bertha M. Schindler of Pittsburgh conveyed 940 West North Avenue to Edward W. Schindler of Pittsburgh for $1 and other valuable considerations.

(DBV 2891 P 310)

Edward W. Schindler of Pittsburgh conveyed 940 West North Avenue to Frank and Laura Louis of Pittsburgh for $1 and other good and valuable considerations (tax stamps suggest a price of $15,000).

(DBV 2969 P 271)

Frank and Laura Louis of Pittsburgh conveyed 940 West North Avenue to William O. Smith of Pittsburgh for $1 and other good and valuable considerations (tax stamps suggest a price of $20,000).

(DBV 3106 P 637)

William O. and Patricia B. Smith of Mount Lebanon conveyed 940 West North Avenue to Carmela Bianconi of McKeesport for $27,500.

(DBV 3230 P 12)

The City and School District of Pittsburgh and County of Allegheny acquired 940 West North Avenue as a result of unpaid property taxes.

(Treasurer’s Deed Book Volume 15 P 210)

Eric W. and Douglas A. Kukura purchased 940 West North Avenue from the City of Pittsburgh on September 23, 1991.

(DBV 8615 P 85)

Eric W. Kukura acquired Douglas A. Kukura’s interest in the house on December 18, 1993.

(DBV 9121 P 509)

Age of the House

Construction

William D. Hamilton had 940 West North Avenue built in 1895.

Plat maps and fife insurance maps of the Allegheny West area published in 1893 and in earlier years show that 940 West North Avenue had not yet been built. William D. Hamilton purchased the lot on which the house now stands on February 20, 1895. Hamilton paid $8000 for the lot, which measured 40′ wide along West North Avenue by 100′ deep. This purchase, at $2 per square foot, was comparable to prices paid for other undeveloped lots in Allegheny West and Manchester at the time, and indicates that 940 West North Avenue had not yet been built.
Allegheny City building permit dockets show that on May 6, 1895, William D. Hamilton received a permit for construction of a brick house on North Avenue (now West North Avenue) near Grant Street (now Galveston Avenue). The house was to measure 37′ wide by 60′ deep.

William D. Hamilton was listed in the 1896 Pittsburgh city directory as living at 21 North Avenue (now 940 West North Avenue) for the first time.

Construction Cost

The estimated construction cost of 940 West North A venue was $10,000. Costs of other houses built in Allegheny City in the l890’s included:

  • 901 Haslage Avenue, Spring Hill, 1899 – $2,000
  • 4017 Northminster Street, Brighton Heights, 1895 – $3,200
  • 3504 Perrysville Avenue, Observatory Hill, 1897 – $3,650
  • 1235 Page Street, Manchester, 1898 – $5,000
  • 930 West North Avenue, Allegheny West, 1895 – $5,317
  • 2014 Osgood Street, Fineview, 1894 – $5,400
  • 3344 Perrysville Avenue, Observatory Hill, 1896 – $8,400

The Contractor: Robert J. Graham

William D. Hamilton hired Robert J. Graham to construct 940 West North Avenue. Robert I. Graham, an Irish immigrant, was a building contractor who then lived at 510 Ridgewood Avenue in the Perry Hilltop area.

Other work by Robert J. Graham included construction of:

  • a house at 1019 North Highland Avenue, Highland Park, 1884
  • houses at 1163 and 1165 Murray Hill Avenue, Squirrel Hill, 1899
  • a commercial and residential building at 4812 Hatfield Street, Lawrenceville, 1903

Architectural Style

William D. Hamilton had 940 West North Avenue constructed in an eclectic form that incorporated elements of a number oflate nineteenth century architectural styles. The house’s comer tower is a component of the Queen Anne style, which had been popular in Pittsburgh for a decade when the house was constructed. The arched, pointed windows are similar to windows used in construction of Gothic Revival houses that were built in Pittsburgh and other urban areas during the mid-nineteenth century. The ornate columns flanking the front entry are similar to those used in classical revival buildings at the turn of the century. The use of flat stone sills and lintels, paired windows, a hipped dormer, and a gabled dormer was typical of middle-class homes built in various styles in Pittsburgh during the l890s.
It should be noted that the appearance of940 West North Avenue when newly constructed was made more unusual by the use of yellow brick, which then had been used only rarely in construction of houses in Pittsburgh.

Available records do not identify an architect who is credited with design of940 West North Avenue.

Residents

The Hamiltons

Pittsburgh city directories, U.S. census records, obituaries, and other materials provide information on William D. and Caroline P. Hamilton, the first owners of 940 West North Avenue.

Learn More

Neighborhood Development

Residential development of Allegheny West began by the middle of the nineteenth century. An 1852 map shows that a number of houses stood on both sides of present Western Avenue between Brighton Road and Allegheny Avenue. A few buildings had been constructed along Brighton Road between Ridge and Western Avenues, on what was then the grounds of the Rope Walk.

Learn More


A Researched History
By: Carol J. Peterson

all photos by Chris Siewers, unless otherwise noted

Tags: