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806 Western Ave, Pittsburgh, PA 15233

944 Western Avenue

944 Western Avenue (Front)

Introduction

944 Western Avenue was constructed between 1884 and 1888, and probably in 1887. The house was built on the western half of a double lot that Charles G.B. Weihl had purchased in 1881. Members of the Weihl family lived at 942 Western Avenue between 1881 and 1898.

Charles G.B. Weihl was a German immigrant and a wholesale liquor dealer. Weihl died in April 1887, and it is not known whether construction of 944 Western Avenue began before or after his death. His widow, Kate J. Weihl, used 944 Western Avenue as a rental property between 1888 and 1921.

Dr. Amasa F. Chandler and his family appear to have been the first occupants of 944 Western Avenue, living in the house in 1888 and 1889. Dr. Chandler, a physician in Ohio for a number of years, did not practice medicine while he lived at 944 Western Avenue. Dr. Chandler was a founder of Charleroi, Washington County, and the Charleroi Plate Glass Company, while he lived at 944 Western Avenue or within a few months afterward.

Later tenants at 944 Western Avenue included the families of Christopher Flinn, a superintendent, and James G. Conner, a fraternity organizer. The house was divided into three apartments between 1910 and 1920.

Detailed information on the ownership history and age of 944 Western Avenue, and on Charles G.B. and Kate Weihl, is contained in the following report.

Ownership

  • December 10, 1867
  • March 2, 1870
  • June 15, 1881
  • April 23, 1887
  • June 27, 1898
  • October 16, 1921
  • April 10, 1923
  • October 9, 1974
  • January 3, 1980
  • August 24, 1995

Elizabeth F. Denny of Pittsburgh conveyed property that included the lot on which 944 Western Avenue now stands to Sarah McKelvy of Allegheny City (now the Northside) for $2,500. The property conveyed was located on the northern side of Western Avenue, 106′ east of Allegheny Avenue, and measured 48′ wide along Western Avenue by 120′ deep to Pasture Alley (now Dounton Way). The property was known as Lots 6 and 7 in Block No. 2 in a plan of lots laid out in the Second Ward of Allegheny City by Mrs. Elizabeth F. Denny (Plan Book 6, Page 193). Lot 6 contained the present site of 944 Western Avenue, and Lot 7 contained the present site of 942 Western Avenue.

(Deed Book Volume 228, Page 207)

Sarah and Hugh McKelvy of Allegheny City conveyed Lots 6 and 7 to Frederick Andriessen of Allegheny City for $11,850. The property contained a house now known as 942 Western Avenue and the present site of 944 Western Avenue.

(DBV 252 P 427)

Frederick and Louisa Andriessen of Allegheny City conveyed Lots 6 and 7 to Charles G.B. Weihl of Pittsburgh for $9,000. The property contained a house now known as 942 Western Avenue and the present site of 944 Western Avenue.

(DBV 418 P 366)

Charles G.B. Weihl died April 23, 1887. Weihl left his estate in equal thirds to his widow, Katharine J. Weihl, so long as she remained his widow, and daughters, then Clara L. Weihl and Ettie Mathilda Weihl (Will Book Volume 31, Page 468). Katharine J. Weihl subsequently declined to accept the terms of the will, and filed her intention to take under the intestate laws of Pennsylvania.

Edward H. and Clara L. (Weihl) Swindell and Charles W. and Ettie M. (Weihl) Ridinger, all of Allegheny City, conveyed their interest in 944 and 942 Western Avenue to Kate J. Weihl, widow, of Allegheny City for $5. This deed also conveyed interest in other property in the Woods Run section of Allegheny City, on Penn Avenue in East Liberty, and on East Carson Street on the South Side.

(DBV 1005 P 153)

Kate J. Weihl died intestate on October 16, 1921. She was survived by Clara L. Swindell and Ettie M. Ridinger. Ettie M. Ridinger died February 27, 1922. In her will dated November 12, 1921 (Will Book Volume 173, Page 300) she left her interest in 944 and 942 Western Avenue to her husband, Charles W. Ridinger.

Clara L. and Edward H. Swindell and Charles W. Ridinger, widower, all of Pittsburgh, conveyed 944 Western Avenue to Julia Augusta Hill, unmarried, of Pittsburgh for $11,000.

(DBV 2164 P 9)

Julia Augusta Hill conveyed 944 Western Avenue to Donald Harrison Cowen for $10,000.

(DBV 5391 P 435)

Donald Harrison Cowen conveyed 944 Western Avenue to Jon Rock Two, a Pennsylvania limited partnership, for $50,500.

(DBV 6208 P 831)

Timothy G. Zinn purchased 944 Western Avenue from Jon Rock Two on August 24, 1995.

(DBV 9527 P 492)

Age of the House

Construction

All available information indicates that 944 Western Avenue was constructed between 1884 and 1888, and probably in 1887.

An 1872 Hopkins plat map shows that 944 Western Avenue had not yet been built. In 1872, the lot on which 944 Western Avenue now stands was owned by Frederick Andriessen, who also owned 942 Western Avenue. Andriessen’s house at 942 Western Avenue is depicted on the 1872 map.

Charles G. B. Weihl purchased the double lot that contained 942 Western Avenue and the site of 944 Western Avenue for $9,000 on June 15, 1881. This purchase price was consistent with or slightly lower than prices paid for other houses in Allegheny West at the time, and indicates that the double lot still contained only 942 Western Avenue.

An 1882 Hopkins plat map and an 1884 Sanborn Map Company insurance map show that 944 Western Avenue remained unbuilt.

The 1887 Pittsburgh city directory listed no residents of 243 (now 944) Western Avenue. The 1888 Pittsburgh city directory listed Dr. Amasa F. Chandler at 243 (944) Western Avenue for the first time.

The 1890 Hopkins plat map confirms that 944 Western Avenue had been built.

Pittsburgh directories show that the family of Charles G.B. Weihl lived at 942 Western Avenue before and after construction of 944 Western Avenue, making it impossible to use the Weihls’ residence to help document when 944 Western Avenue was built.

Allegheny County mortgage records contain no record of any mortgage taken by Charles G.B. Weihl or Ms wife, Kate Weihl, that appears to have financed construction of 944 Western Avenue.

Architectural Style

944 Western Avenue was built in a transitional style, with an exterior that incorporated elements of the Second Empire and Queen Anne styles. The house’s shape, with a depth about three times its width and a mansard roof, is characteristic of an urban version of the Second Empire style that was popular in middle-class and upper-middle-class neighborhoods in Pittsburgh between about 1870 and 1885. Smooth, unomamented stone lintels like those used at 944 Western Avenue are typical of later houses with mansard roofs that were constructed in urban Pittsburgh neighborhoods through the early 1890’s.

The Queen Anne influence at 944 Western Avenue is shown in the elaborate woodwork of the front porch and the ornamentation of the main dormer.

The egg-and-dart terra cotta below the front cornice line and the dentil trim on the porch roof are both atypical of houses built in the Pittsburgh area in the 1880’s.

Interior architectural details of 944 Western Avenue also illustrate a transition between the Second Empire and Queen Anne eras. The house was built with four-panel doors, highly ornamental hinges and round backplates behind doorknobs, all typical of Second Empire and Italianate houses built in Pittsburgh before about 1885. However, the corner blocks, symmetrical door and window trim, handrail, spindles and newel posts of the main stairway and marbleized slate mantels with Eastlake incising are of the type used in construction of homes for upper-middle-class, middle-class and upper-working class families in Pittsburgh between about 1885 and 1895. The Queen Anne style was most popular locally during this period.

Available records do not identify an architect who was credited with design of 944 Western Avenue.

Street Numbering

The present house numbering on Western Avenue is the fourth on the street.

Pittsburgh directory listings of Western Avenue residents indicate the first street numbers on the street were put in place in the late 1860’s. The 1872 Hopkins plat map depicts what appears to have been the earliest street numbers on Western Avenue; the present 942 Western Avenue was numbered 203, and if 944 Western Avenue had been built, it would have been numbered 201.

A second numbering system was in place by 1884, as shows by a Sanborn fire insurance map published that year. The present 942 Western Avenue was known as 100 Western Avenue, and 944 Western Avenue would have been assigned number 102.

Directory listings suggest the next numbering change on Western Avenue took place in 1886. The present 944 Western Avenue is shown as 243 Western Avenue on the 1890 Hopkins map, and 942 Western Avenue was numbered 247.

The present street numbering system was put in place in Allegheny West and other lower North Side neighborhoods in 1899.

Nearby streets such as Beech and North Lincoln Avenues have had only two house numbering schemes. The first, in place between the late 1860’s and 1899, numbered houses in ascending order from 1 to about 101 eastward from Allegheny Avenue. Known records do not provide information on any reason for the frequent numbering changes on Western Avenue.

The Home Today

Photos by Chris Siewers

Residents

The Weihls

Pittsburgh city directories, U.S. census records, and other materials provide information on Charles G.B. Weihl and his wife, Katharine J. Weihl.

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1888-1889

Pittsburgh city directories and the 1889 social register show that Dr. Amasa F. Chandler and his family rented 944 Western Avenue from Kate J. Weihl in 1888 and 1889. Dr. Chandler and his family appear to have been the first residents of 944 Western Avenue.

Dr. Amasa F. Chandler lived in Ohio prior to his 1888 move to Allegheny City. After he moved to Allegheny City, he helped found the Charleroi Plate Glass Company and the city of Charleroi, Washington County. Dr. Chandler moved from Western Avenue to Charleroi in 1889 or 1890, and died in Charleroi in 1890.

More information on Dr. Amasa F. Chandler and his family is contained in biographical materials and information on the history of Charleroi, included with this report.

1890

The 1890 manuscript census, which would provide information on residents of 944 Western Avenue in that year, was destroyed in a warehouse fire following its completion.

1900-1905

The family of Christopher Flinn rented 944 Western Avenue at the time of the 1900 census.

Christopher Flinn, 45, was enumerated as a superintendent. He had been born in Pennsylvania to Irish immigrant parents. His wife, Lucy, 40, had been born in Ohio to parents born in Maryland.

In 1900, Christopher and Lucy Flinn had been married for 20 years and had had six children. Five of their children were alive at the time of the census, and lived at home.

Francis, 19, was the oldest child of Christopher and Lucy Flinn. He was employed as a draftsman. Marie, 17, Antonette (sic), 16, Margarette, 10, and Julia, eight, attended school.

The 1900 census did not enumerate any servants or other non-family members at 944 Western Avenue.

Pittsburgh city directories listed Christopher Flinn as a superintendent living at 944 Western Avenue between 1900 and 1905. The 1902 directory shows that Flinn was employed at 3335 Preble Avenue in the Woods Run section of Allegheny City. This address does not correspond to any Preble Avenue addresses depicted in a 1905 Sanborn fire insurance map. Other directories did not list Flinn’s work address.

Christopher Flinn was not listed in Pittsburgh directories published before 1900 or after 1905.

1910

In 1910, according to census records, 944 Western Avenue was rented to James G. Conner.

James G. Conner, 57, was a fraternity organizer. He and his wife, Narcissa E., 52, had both been born in Pennsylvania, as had their parents.

In 1910, James G. and Narcissa E. Conner had been married 36 years and had had two children. Both of their children, Frank F. and Narcissa B., were single and lived at home. Neither had an occupation.

Pittsburgh directory listings suggest the Conner family’s stay at 944 Western Avenue was very short. James G. Conner was never listed in directories at 944 Western Avenue. The 1910 directory listed Conner at 918 Beech Avenue, and with no occupation. Conner had lived at 1905 Saint Clair Terrace (now Saint Ives Street, near the General Mail Facility on California Avenue) a year earlier, and was listed as a clerk. He was not listed in the 1911 directory.

1920

The 1920 census enumerated a total of 11 persons living in three apartments at 944 Western Avenue.

The first apartment at 944 Western Avenue was occupied by a family headed by Jerry Cochran, a single 52-year-old machinist. Cochran shared his living quarters with his widowed sister, Lula Hulego, 53, and widowed mother, Margaret Cochran, 76. Both women had no occupation. All three family members had been born in Pennsylvania.

Joseph Sullivan, 41, was the head of the second household at 944 Western Avenue. Sullivan was a traveling salesman who had been born in Massachusetts. His wife, Sarah, 33, had been born in New York State. Sarah Sullivan had no occupation. The couple had two children, Frances, three, and Bettie, 19 months.

The third apartment at 944 Western Avenue was rented to George Jones, a 35-year-old plumbing superintendent. Jones was a native of Ohio. Mary T., 29, his wife, had been born in Canada, and came to the United States in 1905. She had no occupation.

George and Mary T. Jones were childless, and shared their living quarters with two lodgers at the time of the 1920 census. Their lodgers were Catherine Glosser, 32, and Margaret Harshaw, 30. Both were single and worked as salesladies in department stores. Both lodgers had been born in Pennsylvania.

1930

Records of the 1930 census show that 944 Western Avenue was rented to George and Grace E. Everett. The Everetts paid $130 per month to rent 944 Western Avenue, and shared the house with nine roomers.

George Everett, 46, was a laborer in a piano store. Grace E. Everett, 48, managed 944 Western Avenue, which the Everetts used as a rooming house. George and Grace E. Everett had both been born in Pennsylvania, as had their parents. The couple had no children who lived at home.

Roomers who lived at 944 Western Avenue in 1930 were:

  • Cecelia A. Mathews, 29, who was divorced and worked as saleslady in a department store
  • Elizabeth J. Mathews, eight, a daughter of Cecelia A. Mathews
  • David Harris, 37, a laborer employed in building construction
  • Margaret Harris, 30, his wife, who had no occupation

  • Robert J. Clarke, 31, a clerk employed by a mine and mill supply company
  • Zada A. Clarke, 25, his wife, who had no occupation
  • Doris M. Clarke, six, their daughter
  • Bessie M. Thomas, 36, a divorced woman who was a saleswoman in a dry goods store
  • Gladys G. Thomas, 16, her daughter, an operator in a beauty parlor

George and Grace E. Everett, Cecelia A. and Elizabeth J. Mathews, and David and Margaret Harris were all natives of Pennsylvania. Robert J. Clarke had been born in Pennsylvania, and Zada A. Clarke had been born in Ohio. Their daughter Doris was born in Pennsylvania. Bessie M. and Gladys G. Thomas were both natives of Maryland.

Census records also indicate that Robert J. Clarke was the only resident of 944 Western Avenue who owned a radio.

Neighborhood Development

944 Western Avenue was built more than two decades after the Allegheny West area began to develop as a genteel alternative to sections of Allegheny City like the east and south commons and the Anderson Street area, which were crowded and contained mixed residential, commercial and industrial uses by the end of the Civil War. While Ridge Avenue and Brighton Road became the home of some of the wealthiest residents of the Pittsburgh area, and Beech Avenue homes were built for middle-class families, Western Avenue developed as a somewhat unlikely mixture of mansions, homes of middle-class and working-class families, and small industrial sites. North Lincoln Avenue was developed with a mixture of mansions and middle-class housing.

Learn More

Supplementary Materials

The following materials accompany this report:

Maps

  • a copy of an 1852 map of the Allegheny City area
  • a copy of an 1872 plat map of part of Allegheny West
  • a copy of an 1884 Sanborn fire insurance map of the area around 944 Western Avenue
  • a copy of a 1925 plat map of the area around 944 Western Avenue

Dr. Amasa F. Chandler

  • a copy of the 1889 Pittsburgh social register listing of members of the Chandler family at 243 (944) Western Avenue
  • information on Amasa F. Chandler and his sons, Lee L. and Sellers McKee Chandler, from Encyclopedia of Pennsylvania Biography (1916)
  • articles on early development of Charleroi, from the Pittsburgh Press, December 20, 1925 and March 11, 1934
  • information on development of Charleroi, from Charleroi – the First 100 Years (1990)

Charles G.B. and Kate Weihl

  • information on John Seiferth, former partner of Charles G.B. Weihl in John Seifert & Company, from Industries of Pittsburgh, 1879-80
  • a copy of the 1880 Pittsburgh directory listing of Charles G.B. Weihl
  • the notice of the wedding of the younger Kate Weihl and Edmund H. Brackemeyer, from the Pittsburgh Commercial Gazette, February 19, 1885
  • information on the Penn Saw Works, from Pennsylvania Historical Review (1886)
  • the death notice of Charles G.B. Weihl, from the Pittsburgh Post, April 25, 1887
  • information of William Swindle & Brothers, from Pittsburgh of Today (1896)
  • a biography of E. Theodore Lippert, former partner of Charles G.B. Weihl in the Penn Saw Works, from Memoirs of Allegheny County (1904)
  • the obituary of Katherine J. Weihl, from the Pittsburgh Press, October 18, 1921

William Lyons

  • an article about the sucicide of William Lyons from The Pittsburgh Daily Post, October 19, 1891

A Researched History
By: Carol J. Peterson

all photos by Chris Siewers, unless otherwise noted

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