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

851 Beech Avenue

851 Beech Avenue (Front)

Introduction

Alfred McDonald constructed 851 Beech Avenue in 1869. McDonald, a building contractor who lived at 853 Beech Avenue, constructed the house as a speculative venture. He purchased the lot on which the house stands in April 1869 for $2836, and sold the lot and house four months later for $9,000. The house is a good example of the Italianate style applied to a somewhat narrow urban house form, with arched front door surround and window hoods, rounded ornamental panels on its front door surround, and paired brackets below the box gutter and along the roofline on the east elevation.

Pittsburgh attorney Joseph J. Siebeneck bought 851 Beech Avenue from McDonald, and lived there for 27 years. Siebeneck, a German immigrant, settled in Pittsburgh in 1857 or 1858 after working on civil engineering projects and then studying law in Towanda, Pennsylvania. He and his wife, Margaret McKinney Siebeneck, lived in the lower Hill District from the time that they married until they moved to Beech Avenue. Joseph Siebeneck may have walked or taken a horsecar from Allegheny West to his law office in Grant Street in Downtown Pittsburgh.

The Siebenecks had no children who lived at 851 Beech Avenue. Census records document the presence of servants who lived in the house. Margaret Siebeneck died in 1877, and Joseph lived at 851 Beech until he died in 1896.

Charles Holmes purchased 851 Beech Avenue in 1899. Holmes was then vice-president of the Mercantile Trust Company and president of the First National Bank of McKees Rocks, both of which he had helped found in the 1890s. He also helped establish the Mortgage Banking Company in 1902, and served as treasurer of the First Presbyterian Church of Pittsburgh. Holmes and his wife, Sallie, lived in the house into the early 1910s. Sallie Holmes died in 1911, and in 1913 Charles sold 851 Beech Avenue to Ann Lattner Gerlach, whose family owned die house until 2007.

Detailed information on the history of 851 Beech Avenue is contained in the following report.

Ownership

  • April 3. 1869
  • August 6, 1869
  • September 15, 1898
  • February 17, 1899
  • January 18, 1913
  • August 13, 1926
  • October 2, 1931
  • March 7, 1947
  • April 29, 1947
  • January 22, 1971
  • July 27, 2007

Elizabeth F. Denny of Pittsburgh conveyed the lot on which 851 Beech Avenue now stands to Alfred McDonald of Pittsburgh for $2,836. The property was located on the south side of Beech Avenue, 71’ from Galveston (then Grant) Avenue, and measured 35’2.75” wide along Beech Avenue by 137’4.5” deep to an unnamed 20’ wide alley (now Dounton Way). The property was known as the east part of Lot 33 and all of Lot 32 in Block 1 of the Plan of Lots land out by Elizabeth F. Denny.

The property was in the Second Ward of Allegheny City, which became part of Pittsburgh on December 9, 1907.

(Deed Book Volume 244, Page 155)

Alfred and Mary A. McDonald of Allegheny City conveyed 851 Beech Avenue to James J. Siebeneck of Pittsburgh for $9,000.

James J. Siebeneck, a childless widower, died while owning 851 Beech Avenue. He left a will, recorded in Allegheny County Will Book Volume 50, Page 289, but died intestate as to 851 Beech Avenue. He was survived by as his sole heirs three siblings, all widowed: Joseph G. Siebeneck, Catherine Schreher and Julie Ansbach.

Julia Alsbach of Mayence, Germany, conveyed her one third interest in 851 Beech Avenue to Frank G. Alsbach of Allegheny City in consideration of love and affection.

(DBV 1000 P 590)

Joseph G. Siebeneck of Allegheny City,
Frederick G. and Marietta Alsbach of Allegheny City, and Catherine Schreher of Mayence, Hessen Darmstadt, Germany, conveyed 851 Beech Avenue to Charles Holmes of Pittsburgh for $7,500.

(Deed Book 1016 P 493)

Charles Holmes of Pittsburgh conveyed 851 Beech Avenue to Ann Lattner Gerlach of Pittsburgh for $5,300.

(DBV 1757 P 509)

Ann Lattner Gerlach died on August 13, 1926. She left 851 Beech Avenue to her husband John Gerlach Jr. and to any of her children who would be living at the time of her death (WBV 199 P 596). The Gerlach children were Lawrence A., Crescentia, Marie, Anna, Claude and John E.

John Gerlach Jr. conveyed his interest in 851 Beech Avenue to his six children: Lawrence A. Gerlach of Flushing, New York, Crescentia Gerlach Shutrump of Cleveland and Marie E. Gerlach, Anna A. Gerlach, Claude J. Gerlach and John E. Gerlach of Pittsburgh for $1 and other considerations.

(DBV 2462 P 101)

Lawrence A. and Edna Gerlach of Middletown, Delaware, George and Crescentia Gerlach Shutrump and Chaude J. and Muriel Gerlach of Youngstown, Ohio, Robert and Marie Gerlach Jackson of Ligonier, Westmoreland County and William H. and Anna Gerlach Fuellenwarth of West View conveyed their 5/6 interest in 851 Beech Avenue to John E. Gerlach of Pittsburgh for $7,500.

(DBV 2939 P 395)

Title to 851 Beech Avenue was placed in the names of John E. and Lauretta H. Gerlach.

(DBV 2954 P 122)

Title to 851 Beech Avenue was placed in the name of Lauretta Henderson Gerlach.

Lauretta H. Bohonick, formerly Lauretta Henderson Gerlach, died on March 28, 2006.
(DBV 4513 P 710)

Catherine M. Serventi and Eugene T. Wilson purchased 851 Beech Avenue from the estate of Lauretta H. Bohonick, also known as Lauretta H. Gerlach or Lauretta Henderson Gerlach, on July 27, 2007.

(DBV 13328 P 422)

Age of the House

Construction

Local historical records indicate that Alfred McDonald constructed 851 Beech Avenue in 1869.

Alfred McDonald purchased the lot on which 851 Beech Avenue stands on April 3,1869. He paid $2,836 for the property, measuring 35’2.75” wide by 137’4.5” deep. This purchase, at 59 cents per square foot, was comparable to prices paid for other undeveloped lots in and near Allegheny West at the time.
McDonald and his wife, Mary A., sold the lot to James J. Siebeneck for $9,000 on August 6, 1869. The significant increase in property value indicates that a house had been built on the property after the April sale. The 1870 Pittsburgh directory listed James J. Siebeneck as living at 68 Beach Street (now 851 Beech Avenue) for the first time. The first plat map of the area, published in 1872, depicts the house.

Architectural Style

Alfred McDonald built 851 Beech Avenue in the Italianate style, which is shown in the house’s arched front door surround and window hoods, the rounded ornamental panels of the front door surround, and paired brackets below its box gutter and along the roofline on the east elevation. The Italianate style was the most popular architectural style in the Pittsburgh area between the late 1850s and the mid-1880s. In urban neighborhoods like Allegheny West, where high land costs encouraged construction of houses of about 25’ or less in width, Italianate house exteriors were characterized primarily by side-gabled roofs, arched door and window openings, prominent or projecting door and window hoods, and decorative brackets.
Interior details of Italianate houses 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 Italianate houses were built with stairways that incorporated landings located about three steps below the main level of the second floor. Most local Italianate houses also featured two-over-two double-hung windows, although some later or larger examples were constructed with one-over-one double-hung windows.

The Developer: Alfred McDonald

Alfred McDonald was a bricklaying contractor in Allegheny City and Pittsburgh in the 1860s and 1870s. He moved from Arthur Street in the lower Hill District in Pittsburgh to Beech Avenue in Allegheny in 1866-1867, when he constructed a house at 853 Beech Avenue for himself and his family. The McDonald family lived at 853 Beech Avenue until 1869 or 1870, and later lived at various addresses on the Mexican War Streets and in Manchester.

Street Name and Numbering

The house at 851 Beech Avenue was originally known as 68 Beach or Beech Street. The street became known as Beech Avenue in 1892-1893. The house became 851 Beech Avenue when the North Side’s modern street numbering system was put in place in 1899.

Garage Construction

Plat maps of the area around 851 Beech Avenue published in and before 1910 show that the large garage at the rear of the property had not been built. City of Pittsburgh building permit dockets show that in October 1913, Ann Gerlach received a permit for the construction of a brick garage at the rear of 851 Beech Avenue. The garage was to measure 35’ wide by 56’ deep, and have a slate roof. Its estimated construction cost was $3,130.
The name of the contractor who was to construct the garage is illegible in hand-written building permit records.

A 1925 fire insurance map shows that the garage had been built.

The Home Today

Photos by Chris Siewers

Through the Years


Residents

The Siebenecks

Pittsburgh directories, U.S. census records, an obituary, information compiled on ancestry.com, and other sources provide information on James J. and Margaret Siebeneck, the first owners of 851 Beech Avenue.

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The Holmeses

Records of the 1900 census list Charles Holmes, 64, and Sallie Holmes, 56, as the only residents of 851 Beech Avenue. Census records also show that 851 Beech Avenue was not mortgaged.

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The Gerlachs

Ann Gerlach bought 851 Beech Avenue in 1913, and records of the next three population censuses provide information on her family.

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Supplementary Materials

The following materials accompany this report:

Maps

  • a copy of part of an 1852 map depicting Allegheny City
  • a copy of part of an 1872 plat map of the area around 851 Beech Avenue
  • copies of parts of fire insurance maps of the area around 851 Beech Avenue, published in 1884, 1893, 1906 and 1925 and the 1925 map, updated by the publisher to 1950

Siebeneck

  • the marriage notice of James J. Siebeneck and Margaret McKinney, from the Pittsburgh Commercial Gazette, October 20, 1859
  • a copy of James J. Siebeneck’s passport application, April 21, 1873
  • the obituary of Margaret E. Siebeneck, from the Pittsburgh Commercial Gazette, October 1, 1877
  • information on James J. Siebeneck, from The Twentieth Century Bench and Bar of Pennsylvania (1903)
  • the obituary of James J. Siebeneck, from the Pittsburgh Commercial Gazette, March 21, 1896
  • letter from James J. Siebeneck (and others) to President Elect Lincoln, January 13, 1861

Holmes

  • the marriage notice of Charles Holmes and Sallie A. Mastisson, from the Pittsburgh Commercial Gazette, July 5, 1879
  • portraits of Charles Holmes and other officers of the Mortgage Banking Company, from Views of Pittsburgh (1903)
  • the obituary of Sallie Holmes, from the Pittsburgh Gazette Times, July 13, 1911
  • the obituary of Charles Holmes, from the Pittsburgh Gazette Times, July 24, 1916

A Researched History
By: Carol J. Peterson

all photos by Chris Siewers, unless otherwise noted

Last Call: Tickets for A Tour & Tasting in Old Allegheny on June 5 & 6

Lillies

We wanted to make sure folks who signed up for notifications had one last reminder to purchase tickets for the tour before the write-up about the tour runs in the Post-Gazette this weekend. There are only a few places left for Friday. Saturday afternoon has the most openings if you’re hoping to bring a larger group. There will be no tickets available at the door; advanced purchase required.

It’s a house and garden tour.

Guests will visit some of the most lavishly decorated homes and gardens in the Pittsburgh area. Learn about French architectural and literary influences in the neighborhood.

It’s a wine tasting – featuring wine from France.

Guests will sample a variety of regional reds and whites from France, one at each stop on the tour, and hors d’oeuvres to accompany them.

Dates & Times

Friday, June 5

5:00 – 9:00 pm

Saturday, June 6

12:30 – 4:30 pm or 5:00 – 9:00 pm

Free Parking

We have made arrangements for free parking for people with tickets attending the tour.

Learn More

Questions? Contact Us Getting Here Buy Tickets →

849 N Lincoln Avenue

849 N Lincoln Avenue (Front)

Introduction

In 1907, retired Pittsburgh industrialist George Harton Singer created the house that is today known as 849 North Lincoln Avenue when he combined two attached 40-year-old homes at 847 and 849 Lincoln Avenue. Singer spent $8,000, greater than the entire construction cost of a typical middle-class Pittsburgh home at the time, in converting 849 North Lincoln into a Colonial Revival mansion. In late summer 1907, Singer also had a garage built at 849 North Lincoln Avenue. Singer’s permit for construction of the garage was the last Allegheny West building permit issued before the late 1907 annexation of Allegheny City by the city of Pittsburgh.

George Harton Singer was a son of William H. Singer, a founder of the iron manufacturing firm of Singer, Nimick & Company. William H. Singer was a long-time resident of Western Avenue in Allegheny City.

George Harton Singer and his family lived at 849 North Lincoln Avenue for only a few years before joining other wealthy Allegheny City residents in fleeing to the clean air and tranquility of Sewickley. Singer and his wife,
Charlotte, sold 849 North Lincoln Avenue in 1920 to John R. McGinley president of the Gary Screw & Bolt Company, and his wife, Jennie. After John R. McGinley’s death, Jennie McGinley transferred 849 North Lincoln Avenue to a firm that converted it to a rooming house.

849 North Lincoln Avenue was owned by a succession of rooming house operators until 1977. In that year, 849 North Lincoln Avenue was purchased by its present owners, Harold E. Dixler and Nicholas F. Duerlinger, who are restoring the house to the period of its occupancy by the George Harton Singer family.

Detailed information on the history of 849 North Lincoln Avenue is contained in the following pages.

Pre-Residential: 1813-1867

Rope Walk

849 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.

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Lot Owners (1858-1867)

On June 26, 1858 (Deed Book Volume 135, Page 382), John Irwin and his wife, Abigail, sold Lots 66 and 67 in the Plan of the Rope Walk Property to Daniel Euwer for $2,950. Both lots measured 48′ wide along Central Avenue (now North Lincoln Avenue) and Ridge Street (now Ridge Avenue), and 285’6″ deep. Daniel Euwer, of Ridge Avenue, was listed in city directories as a “gent,” or property owner who did not work. Euwer was the first of three short-term owners whose interest in the property was speculative, during a time of rising land values.
Daniel Euwer sold the western half of Lot 67 to William B. Smith, a “gent,” of Western Avenue on March 18, 1863 (DBV 159 P 500). On the same day, Euwer sold the eastern half of the lot to Alexander Pitcairn, a weaver who lived on Rebecca (now Reedsdale) Street (DBV 159, P 502). Both sales were for $1,000. Alexander Pitcairn sold the western half of the lot to William B. Smith for $1500 on September 10, 1864 (DBV 176 P 340).

William B. Smith doubled his investment in Lot 67 when he sold it to John W. Simpson, who would build the original double house at what is now 849 North Lincoln Avenue, in 1866.

Original Structures (1867-1906)

Construction

John W. Simpson, a Downtown Pittsburgh flour dealer who lived in an earlier house on the present site of 841 North Lincoln Avenue, purchased Lot 67 on March 16, 1866 (DBV 201 P 84). Simpson paid $5,000, or 36 cents per square foot, indicating the property remained undeveloped. Simpson had the two party wall houses that now comprise 849 North Lincoln Avenue built during the next 17 months.

On August 15, 1867 (DBV 222 P 71), John W. Simpson sold the eastern half of Lot 67, containing a house then known as 62 Lincoln Avenue, to Samuel P. Shriver for $15,000. Shriver, a wholesale grocer, lived in an un-numbered house on Ridge Avenue before moving to 62 Lincoln Avenue. The lot that was conveyed measured 24′ wide and 285’6″ deep between Lincoln and Ridge Avenues.
John W. Simpson sold the western half of Lot 67, containing a house known as 60 Lincoln Avenue, to Thomas Dawson for $15,500 on October 4, 1867 (DBV 220 P 436). Dawson, who previously lived in Rochester, Beaver County, was subsequently listed in city directories as a gent living at 60 Lincoln Avenue.

An 1872 plat map of the North Lincoln Avenue area shows that Lot 67 was occupied by a double house known as 60 and 62 Lincoln Avenue. Outbuildings, probably stables or carriage houses, faced Ridge Avenue.

Ownership

62 Lincoln Avenue

After purchasing 62 Lincoln Avenue from John W. Simpson in 1867, Samuel P. Shriver owned and lived at 62 Lincoln Avenue for 27 years. On June 30, 1894, Shriver and his wife, Rachel, sold 62 Lincoln Avenue to John M. Montgomery of Glenfield, near Sewickley, for $12,750. Montgomery owned 62 Lincoln Avenue for nine months, selling the house to James W. Scully for $14,000 on March 23, 1895 (DBV 887 P 530).

Two months later, on May 22, 1895 (DBV 890 P 368), James W Scully and his wife, Ida, sold 62 Lincoln Avenue to William H. Singer for $14,000. William H. Singer owned 62 Lincoln Avenue (known as 847 Lincoln Avenue after late 1899) for nine years before his purchase of the western half of the double house.

John M. Montgomery, who may not have lived at 62 Lincoln Avenue during the brief time that he owned the house, was president of the Consolidated Stock and Produce Exchange of Pittsburgh. Montgomery, whose office was located at 410 Smithfield Street, Downtown, lived on Union Avenue, near the present site of Allegheny Center Mall, in the late 1890’s and early 1900’s.

James W. Scully, owner of 62 Lincoln Avenue for two months during 1895, lived in a house now known as 845 North Lincoln Avenue in the 1800’s andearly 1900’s. Scully was president of the First National Bank of Birmingham, 1201 East Carson Street.

60 Lincoln Avenue

Thomas Dawson owned and occupied 60 Lincoln Avenue until September 2, 1872, when he sold the house to John Kirkpatrick for $22,000 (DBV 294, P 314). Kirkpatrick was the general agent of the Armenia Insurance Company.
After Kirkpatrick’s death, legal actions among his heirs resulted in appointment of a special master to partition his property.

On July 28, 1906, C.S. Crawford, the court-appointed master for partition of the estate of John Kirkpatrick, sold 60 Lincoln Avenue (known since late 1899 as 849 Lincoln Avenue) to Karl E. Wilson for $10,000 (DBV 1463 P 572). Wilson owned the house for only three days before selling it to Frederick C. Ewart for $10,000 (DBV 1463, P 576). Ewart, a manager who had rented the house between the early 1890’s and 1904, sold the house on the same day – July 31, 1906-to William H. Singer for $10,000.

The Singer Mansion (1907)

Construction

With William H. Singer’s purchase of the western half of 849 North Lincoln Avenue in 1906, Singer owned both halves of what remained a party wall house. Under Singer’s ownership, the two houses were combined as a mansion in a 1907 remodeling.

William H. Singer appears to have purchased both halves of 849 North Lincoln Avenue as residences for his children. A son, William H. Singer Jr., occupied 62 (847) Lincoln Avenue between 1896 and 1901. Another son, George Harton Singer, occupied 849 North Lincoln Avenue after its remodeling as a mansion. George Harton Singer is recorded as the owner of the property in building permit records, although his father owned 849 North Lincoln Avenue until his death in 1909. The elder Singer left the house to George Harton Singer.

Allegheny City building permit dockets show that George Harton Singer received a permit for an $8,000 alteration of a brick dwelling on Lincoln Avenue on March 6, 1907. Existing records provide no information on dimensions of any additions made to the structure. On July 31, 1907, Singer received a permit for construction of a one-story brick garage in the rear of the property. The garage was to measure 44′ wide by 25′ wide, and had an estimated construction cost of $3,700.

The $8,000 that George Harton Singer spent for remodeling of 849 North Lincoln Avenue was greater than the typical construction cost of about $7,000 for a new middle-class house of about 10 rooms – including servants’ rooms – in Pittsburgh in 1907.

George Harton Singer hired the contracting firm of John H. Trimble & Brother for alteration of 849 North Lincoln Avenue and construction of the garage. City directories show that John H. Trimble & Brother was located at 2022 Chartiers (now Chateau) Street in Manchester in the early 1900’s. The firm was a partnership of John H. Trimble of Ben Avon and James Trimble of Bellevue.
Other work of John H. Trimble & Brother included an addition to the William Thaw Jr. house at 930 North Lincoln Avenue, a carriage house at 930 North Lincoln Avenue, and a house for iron manufacturer James B. Laughlin at 400 Devonshire Street in Shadyside. A related firm, W.F. Trimble & Sons, built the Harry Darlington Jr. house at 709 Brighton Road and its carriage house.

The July 31, 1907 permit for construction of the garage at 849 North Lincoln Avenue was the last building permit issued in Allegheny West before Allegheny City’s annexation into the city of Pittsburgh in late 1907.

George Harton Singer had 849 North Lincoln Avenue remodeled in the Colonial Revival style. Colonial Revival homes, common in Pittsburgh between the late 1890’s and the 1920’s, used features common to Georgian, Adam and Dutch Colonial houses built in the American colonies and United States until the 1840’s. Colonial Revival features of 849 North Lincoln Avenue include the shape of its front section, its front porch with columns and capitals, dentils at cornice level, and window configuration, keystone lintels, and blind arches. In and around Pittsburgh, most Colonial Revival homes were built of brick rather than wood frame.

A Field Guide to American Houses (Virginia and Lee McAlester, 1992) is a useful tool for identifying features of Colonial Revival homes, and provides abundant photographs of Colonial Revival, Georgian and Adam homes with accompanying text.

The Singer Family

George Harton Singer, born in Pittsburgh in 1859, was 48 when he and his father commissioned the remodeling of 849 North Lincoln Avenue. Singer’s father, William H. Singer, lived at 934 Western Avenue for many years. William H. Singer, a partner in iron manufacturing firms since the 1850’s, was a founder of the firm of Singer, Nimick & Company. The elder Singer also sold the Pittsburgh Bessemer Steel Company (later U.S. Steel’s Homestead Works) to the Carnegie Steel Company, and served on the boards of the latter firm and the Crucible Steel Company.

George Harton Singer worked for Singer, Nimick & Company and the Crucible Steel Company during the 1880’s and 1890’s. Singer was apparently able to retire in about 1900, at 41, and city directories published during the 20th century never listed Singer as having an occupation or maintaining a Downtown office for any purpose.
Although George Harton Singer invested a considerable amount of money in the 1907 remodeling of 849 North Lincoln Avenue, Singer and his family lived there for a relatively short time. Singer apparently began living in Sewickley at least during summers by the early 1910’s, and a biographical caption in Prominent Men of Pittsburgh (1915) indicated Singer’s home was in Sewickley. Singer and his wife, Charlotte, sold 849 North Lincoln in 1920.

Marguerite Singer, a sibling of George Harton Singer, and her husband, Dr. Robert Milligan, were the second owners of the Harry Darlington Jr. mansion at 709 Brighton Road.

Through the Years

in the early 80s

Decline and Restoration (1920-Present)

After living in Sewickley for a number of years, George Harton and Charlotte Singer sold 849 North Lincoln Avenue to John R. and Jennie A. McGinley for $20,000 on April 21, 1920 (DBV 2049, P 123). The McGinleys, previously living in New York City, lived at 849 North Lincoln Avenue through 1932. John R. McGinley served as president of the Gary Screw and Bolt Company in the early 1920’s, and later maintained an investment brokerage office in the Westinghouse Building, Ninth Street, room 1200.

After her husband’s death, Jennie A. McGinley transferred ownership of 849 North Lincoln Avenue to the Eaglis Corporation, of which she served as secretary, for $1 on June 3, 1932 (DBV 2470 P 189). The Eaglis Corporation then converted 849 North Lincoln Avenue into a rooming house.

On February 10, 1937 (DBV 2561 P 134), the Eaglis Corporation sold 849 North Lincoln Avenue to Northside rooming house operators Chris and Nellie Christensen for $6,000. Chris Christensen, by then a widower, transferred the house to his son and daughter-in-law, Oskar H. and Yeiva J. Christensen, in consideration of $1 and love and affection on December 28, 1960 (DBV 3955, P 453). After her husband’s death, Yelva Christensen sold 849 North Lincoln Avenue to Carl E. and Nancy R. Floyd for $39,500 on February 22, 1974 (DBV 5386 P 399).

On January 19, 1976 (DBV 5572, P 553), Nancy R. Floyd, widowed, sold 849 North Lincoln Avenue to William Hubeaut for $40,000. Hubeaut owned 849 North Lincoln Avenue for 21 months, then sold it to its present owners, Harold E. Dixler and Nicholas F. Duerlinger, on November 11, 1977 (DBV 5865, P 623).

Allegheny West in the Early 1900’s

When George Harton Singer had 849 North Lincoln Avenue remodeled as a mansion, the Allegheny West housing market was characterized by steady demand for mansions and a declining market for middle-class homes.

In 1907, middle-class homeowners had been slowly leaving Allegheny West for nearly 20 years. Beech and West North Avenues were primarily a mix of owner-occupied and rented single family homes, with a few homes already divided into apartments. Although wealthy Allegheny West residents had begun to move to Sewickley in the 1860’s, most larger homes on North Lincoln and Ridge Avenues and Brighton Road remained single-family residences. Two of the neighborhood’s largest surviving houses – the Harry Darlington Jr. house at 709 Brighton Road and the William Penn Snyder house at Ridge and Galveston Avenues – were not yet built in 1907.

In the early 1920’s, almost all of the millionaire residents of Allegheny West moved to the Sewickley era. A few, such as the McGinley family, successors to the Singers at 849 North Lincoln Avenue, remained through the end of the decade.

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A Researched History
By: Carol J. Peterson

all photos by Chris Siewers, unless otherwise noted

The Childlses

James H. Childs was born in the Shadyside section of Pittsburgh in 1878. His parents were Harvey Childs Jr., a wholesale shoe merchant on Wood Street, Downtown, and Jeannette Childs. As a young man at the beginning of the 20th century, he and Clinton L. Childs became partners in Childs & Childs, bankers and brokers, with offices in the Arrott Building at Fourth Avenue and Wood Street. He remained with Childs & Childs until about 1912. He then became president of H. Childs & Company at 813 Penn Avenue, a wholesale shoe, leather and rubber business that was a successor to his father’s firm.

James H. Childs married Alice Walton in 1902. The couple lived at 609 Allegheny Avenue and had a summer home in Sewickley Heights soon after they were married. By 1912, the Childs family had a summer home at Dark Harbor, Maine. The family lived at 943 North Lincoln Avenue in the 1910s, until James H. Childs purchased 845 North Lincoln Avenue from James and Ida Scully in 1917. When they moved to 845 North Lincoln Avenue, James H. and Alice Childs had three children.

Records of the 1920 census list the five members of the Childs family at 845 North Lincoln Avenue: James H. Childs, 41, a wholesale leather and rubber merchant; Alice Walton Childs, 40; and Alice Walton Childs, 14, Mary, ten and James H. Jr., six. Household staff living in the house were:

  • Margaret Brown, 41, a widowed nurse who had immigrated from England in 1893
  • Delia Osher, 28, a servant who had immigrated from Ireland in 1910
  • Ellen Deasy, 30, a servant who had immigrated from Ireland in 1908
  • Mary Lyon, 32, a servant who had immigrated from Ireland in 1900
  • Julia Grotschal, 32, a Hungarian immigrant

Records of the 1920 census also show that 845 North Lincoln Avenue was mortgaged.

The Childs family lived at 845 North Lincoln Avenue until 1923, when James and Alice Childs sold the house. The family then moved to 5453 Albemarle Avenue in Squirrel Hill, and lived there until the 1930s, when they moved to 608 Academy Avenue in Sewickley. James H. Childs continued as president of H. Childs & Company for many years, and later served as chairman.

James H. and Alice Walton Childs lived at 608 Academy Avenue until they died in 1963.

The Scullys

Ida Walton Scully was born in Allegheny County on September 13,1863. She was one of at least seven children of Joseph Walton, a coal mine owner, coal shipper and coal merchant in Downtown Pittsburgh, and Annie Walton, both born in Pennsylvania. In the early 1860s, the Walton family lived on East Carson Street in the borough of East Birmingham (the present South Side Flats between South 17th and South 27th streets).

When Ida Walton was a small child her family moved to Manchester. The family lived in a large house at 1203 Western Avenue, at the lower end of Fontella Street, on a lot of about 1.75 acres that extended back to Ridge Avenue. Ida Scully resided at that address until she was married. The family’s move to Western Avenue indicates that Joseph Walton had prospered in business, and suggests that the Waltons were among the socially prominent families of Pittsburgh.

In September 1888, Joseph Walton purchased a substantial house at what is now 845 North Lincoln Avenue. Walton apparently bought the house to provide a residence for Ida Walton and Pittsburgh glass manufacturer James W. Scully, who were married on February 21, 1889. Pittsburgh directories listed James W. Scully at 64 Lincoln Avenue (845 North Lincoln Avenue) beginning in 1889.

James Wood Scully was born in Allegheny City on September 6, 1857. He was one of at least three children of James O’Hara Scully, a partner in the Eagle Iron Works on the South Side, and Margaret I. Townsend Scully, both born in Pennsylvania. James O’Hara Scully died in the late 1850s, leaving Margaret I. Scully a widow with three small children. She was apparently financially secure as a widow, as the 1860 census recorded her as owning real estate worth $12,000 (comparable to $600,000 or more in the early 21st century) and having a personal estate of $3,000. In 1860 Margaret I. Scully and her three children shared a home in Downtown Pittsburgh with members of the Townsend family.

James W. Scully worked as a clerk and as a bookkeeper as a young man in the 1870s. In the early 1880s, Scully became a partner in the Sterling Fire Brick Works with an older brother, Henry R. Scully. In about 1885, Scully joined the firm of William McCully & Company, manufacturers of glass vials, bottles, and other goods. The firm’s offices were on Wood Street in Downtown Pittsburgh. He was a partner in William McCully & Company when he married Ida Walton in 1889, and until 1894-1895.

The Scullys’ first child, James W. Jr., was born in June 1890. Records of the 1890 manuscript census, which would provide information on the Scully family and any other residents of their home in that year, were destroyed in a warehouse fire following the completion of the census. The Scullys had two more children in the 1890s: Alice W., born in 1897, and Walton T., born in 1898.

In 1894-1895, James W. Scully became a partner in Joseph Walton & Company, the coal mining and distributing company that had been owned by his late father-in-law. He remained with that firm for approximately three years. It is possible that Scully’s role with Joseph Walton & Company, combined with inheritance associated with Joseph Walton’s passing and the growth of the young Scully family, provided the impetus and means for the remodeling and enlargement of the house at 845 North Lincoln Avenue between late 1895 and late 1899.

In about 1897, James W. Scully left Joseph Walton & Company. For the next several years, his primary occupation was serving as president and then as vice-president of the First National Bank of Birmingham, at South 12th and East Carson streets on the South Side.

The 1900 census recorded 12 residents of 845 North Lincoln Avenue. James W. Scully, 42, was a banker and broker who owned his home without a mortgage. He and Ida Scully, 36, had three children: James W. Jr., nine, Alice W., three and Walton T., one. Sabina T. Rankin, a widowed aunt of James W. Scully, lived with the family. The other residents of 845 North Lincoln Avenue were the Scully family’s six servants:

  • Mary Sweeney, 24, who had immigrated from Ireland in 1892
  • Kate Sweeney, 23, who had immigrated from Ireland in 1892
  • John Lewis, 34, born in Virginia, and possibly a coachman
  • Rose Bradley, 39, who had immigrated from Ireland in 1890
  • Margaret McCany, 18, who had immigrated from Ireland in 1899
  • Elise Mueller, 39, who had immigrated from Switzerland in 1891

In about 1905, James W. Scully became a partner in a stock and bond brokerage, Scully Painter & Beech. The firm’s offices were in Pittsburgh’s financial district, on the second floor of what is now the Bank Center at 307 Fourth Avenue. Scully’s partners were Charles A. Painter of 1029 Western Avenue, Daniel Beech of Knoxville, then a borough above the South Side, and Edwin S. Fairley of Bellevue. Scully Painter & Beech was a member of the New York, Chicago, and Pittsburgh stock exchanges and the Chicago Board of Trade. James W. Scully was also a partner in R.L. Scoville & Company, investment bankers, in the same building.

In 1910, according to census records, the five members of the Scully family lived at 845 North Lincoln Avenue with six household staff persons. The 1910 census, unlike that of 1900, recorded the household roles of each staff person:

  • Elise Mueller, a nurse
  • Clara Johnson, 38, a cook who had immigrated from Sweden in 1889
  • Annice Allingham, 29, a laundress who had immigrated from Ireland in 1899
  • Louise Reichert, 26, a maid who had immigrated from Germany in 1903
  • Jean S. Michner, 28, a waitress who had immigrated from Scotland in 1903
  • William Dickson, 37, an African-American servant born in Pennsylvania

James W. Scully remained a partner in Scully, Painter & Beech until the early 1910s, when he retired or otherwise left the business world. The Scullys owned 845 North Lincoln Avenue until 1917, when they conveyed the house to James H. Childs, the husband of Alice Walton Childs, the youngest sibling of Ida Walton Scully.

Pittsburgh directory listings indicate that James W. Scully left 845 North Lincoln Avenue in about 1914. Directories no longer listed Scully, and listed Ida Scully as the head of the family. After James and Ida Scully sold the house in 1917, Ida Scully moved to her childhood home at 1203 Western Avenue, by then the home of her sister, Clara Walton Cook, and brother-in-law, Thomas McK. Cook. James W. Scully did not move to 1203 Western Avenue, and his residence and activities after 1914 are unknown. Scully was no longer listed in Pittsburgh city directories or Blue Books, and was apparently not enumerated in Pennsylvania in the 1920 census. He died in Saint Margaret Hospital in Lawrenceville on July 15, 1934, at age 76.

Ida Scully and at least one of her children, Alice, lived at 1203 Western Avenue for a number of years. In about 1917 Ida Scully became the proprietor of the Crossways Shop, which sold “exclusive furniture and novelties” in the Monongahela Bank Building at 213 Sixth Avenue, Downtown. She operated the Crossways Shop into the 1930s. She died on October 9, 1951, at age 88.

845 N Lincoln Avenue

845 N Lincoln Avenue (Front)

Introduction

John W. Simpson, a flour and grain merchant, had the original house at 845 North Lincoln Avenue built between 1864 and 1865. The original house on the lot had a two-story front section and a long two-story rear ell. It was probably built in the Italianate style, the most popular architectural style in the Pittsburgh area in the 1860s and the 1870s.

Joseph Walton, a prominent coal mine owner and coal merchant, purchased the original house at 845 North Lincoln Avenue for the considerable sum of $20,250 in 1888. Walton never resided at 845 North Lincoln Avenue, but apparently bought the property as a residence for his daughter and son-in-law, Ida Walton Scully and James W. Scully, who married in early 1889. Ida Walton Scully became the full owner of the house in 1894.

During the 1890s, 845 North Lincoln Avenue took on its present form and appearance through a series of additions and alterations. By 1893, the front section of the house was enlarged from two to three stories in height. The house’s Richardsonian Romanesque facade and contemporaneous interior features in the front section may have been added by that time. Over the next six years, the house was further updated by the addition of the three-story library addition to its front section and the removal of its original two-story rear ell and replacement with a larger three-story rear ell. The new rear ell was built with a Marshall Brothers elevator, rooms for servants and an integral carriage section at Chapel Way.

After the 1890s alterations, the only remaining part of the original 1864-65 house was its front section, covered on three sides and within. On the west elevation of the present house, one can see visual evidence of the addition of the facade, third floor and rear ell.

James W. Scully, a member of a prominent Pittsburgh family, was a glass manufacturer when he married Ida Walton and began living at 845 North Lincoln Avenue. His later business activities included serving as a partner in Joseph Walton & Company and as president of the First National Bank of Birmingham on the South Side. He and Ida Walton Scully had three children. Census records show that the family employed as many as six servants who lived in their home.

In 1917, the Scullys sold 845 North Lincoln Avenue to James S. Childs, a shoe, rubber and leather wholesaler whose wife, Alice, was a sister of Ida Scully. The Childs family, with three children, employed five live-in servants at the time of the 1920 census. The family owned and lived in the house until 1923, when they sold the house. The next owners, Samuel and Margaret Crow, lived at 845 North Lincoln Avenue and used the building as a rooming house.

Detailed information on the history of 845 North Lincoln Avenue is contained in the following report.

Ownership

  • March 17, 1790
  • November 2, 1813
  • March 9, 1816
  • June 26, 1858
  • March 19, 1863
  • March 6, 1871
  • March 23, 1871
  • September 28, 1888
  • December 5, 1892
  • May 5, 1894
  • May 9, 1894
  • February 27, 1917
  • May 2, 1923
  • March 11, 1941
  • September 28, 1944
  • May 19, 1960
  • 1982

Charles Wilkins, merchant, of the town of Pittsburgh, conveyed property that included the present site of 845 North Lincoln Avenue to John Irwin, esquire, of the town of Pittsburgh for 30 pounds. 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 10-acre tract of land situated on the western side of land laid out for a common, and bounded by what are now Brighton Road, Ridge Avenue, Galveston Avenue and Western Avenue. Lot 69 in the town of Allegheny was a 60′ wide by 240′ deep lot at the comer of Ohio Street and Sandusky Street, measuring 60′ wide on Ohio Street and 240′ deep along Sandusky Street to Strawberry Alley.

(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 property that included the present site of 845 North Lincoln Avenue to John Irwin of the borough of Pittsburgh, another of the sons and heirs of John Irwin, for $1,772. This deed conveyed Out Lots 276, 263 and 268 in the Reserve Tract, containing 10 acres each, and property on Liberty Street (now Liberty Avenue) in Pittsburgh. John Irwin had died intestate and was survived by his widow Mary and four children, Margaret, John, William and Elizabeth.

(DBV 19 P 127)

John and Hannah Irwin of the town of Allegheny conveyed property that included the present site of 845 North Lincoln Avenue to Elizabeth Irwin and Margaret Irwin of the town of Allegheny. This deed conveyed Out Lot 276 in the Reserve Tract and other property in the borough of Pittsburgh. This deed was an amicable partition of the estate of John Irwin.

(DBV 22 P 189)

John and Abigail Irwin of Allegheny City conveyed property that included the present site of 845 North Lincoln Avenue to Daniel Euwer of Pittsburgh for $2,950.

(DBV 135 P 382)

Daniel and Martha Euwer of Allegheny City conveyed property that included the present site of 845 North Lincoln Avenue to John W. Simpson of Allegheny City for $1,000.

(DBV 166 P 29)

The estate of John W. Simpson of Allegheny City conveyed an earlier house at 845 North Lincoln Avenue to Lewis Collner of Clarion County, Pennsylvania, for $16,000.

(DBV 276 P 243)

Lewis and Sarah Collner of Richland Township, Clarion County, conveyed the earlier house at 845 North Lincoln Avenue to Jane McKelvy of Pittsburgh for $16,500.

Jane McKelvy died while owning the earlier house at 845 North Lincoln Avenue. She left the house to her daughter, A. Clara Rafferty.

(DBV 276 P 245)

James C. and A. Clara Rafferty of San Diego, California, conveyed the earlier house at 845 North Lincoln Avenue to Joseph Walton of Allegheny City for $20,250.

(DBV 624 P 452)

Joseph Walton died intestate on December 5, 1892. He was survived by his six children: Samuel B. Walton, John F. Walton, Clara Cook, Ida Walton Scully, Nellie Wood, all adults and Alice F. Walton, a minor.

Samuel B. Walton, John F. and Annie F. Walton, Clara W. and Thomas McK. Cook and James and Nellie Walton Wood, all of Allegheny City, conveyed their interest in the earlier house at 845 North Lincoln Avenue to Ida Walton Scully, wife of James W. Scully of Allegheny City, for $24,849.04.

(DBV 880 P 131)

D.T. Watson, guardian of Alice F. Walton, minor child of Joseph Walton, conveyed the interest of Alice F. Walton in the earlier house at 845 North Lincoln Avenue to Ida Walton Scully, wife of James W. Scully of Allegheny City, for $6,212.26.

(DBV 880 P 136)

James W. and Ida Walton Scully of Pittsburgh conveyed 845 North Lincoln Avenue to James S. Childs of Pittsburgh for $1 and other considerations.

(DBV 1894 P 21)

James S. and Alice Walton Childs conveyed 845 North Lincoln Avenue to Margaret N. Crow, wife of Samuel S. Crow, for $24,500.

(DBV 2155 P 419)

Samuel S. Crow died on March 11, 1941. Margaret N. Crow died on April 1, 1941. She was survived by her only child, Samuel S. Crow Jr.

Title to 845 North Lincoln Avenue was placed in the names of Samuel S. Crow Jr. and his wife, Georgea Crow. Samuel S. Crow Jr. died on December 15, 1952.

(DBV 2816 P 299)

Georgea Crow of Pittsburgh conveyed 845 North Lincoln Avenue to Alexander Watson Jr. and Merl N. Dickenson for $39,000.

(DBV 3857 P 261)

Full title to 845 North Lincoln Avenue passed to Alexander Watson Jr.

Age of the House

Local historical records indicate that the first house at 845 North Lincoln Avenue was built between 1864 and 1865. Between 1890 and 1893, the front section of the house was enlarged by the addition of a third story and the construction of a small addition to the rear elevation of the front section. A small wood frame addition at the back of the rear ell was also removed between 1890 and 1893.

The addition of the third story was followed by the addition of a new facade in the Richardsonian Romanesque style. The new facade was accompanied by the remodeling of the interior with a stairway, woodwork, mantels, doors and other features typical of Richardsonian Romanesque houses. Historical records do not make clear whether the Richardsonian Romanesque facade was added when the third story was built, between 1890 and 1893, or when the library addition to the side of the house was built later in the 1890s.
Between 1895 and 1899, the transformation of 845 North Lincoln Avenue to its present form was completed by the construction of a three-story addition to the east side of the front section and the removal of the two-story rear ell of the original house and its replacement with a three-story rear ell.

First House Construction (1864-1865)

John W. Simpson purchased a lot on Central Street (now North Lincoln Avenue) that included the present site of 845 North Lincoln Avenue on March 19,1863. Simpson paid $1000 for the lot, which measured 48′ wide along Ridge and North Lincoln avenues and 285.5′ deep. The purchase, at seven cents per square foot, was comparable to or lower than prices paid for other undeveloped lots in Allegheny West at the time, and indicates that the lot was undeveloped.

The 1863 and 1864 Pittsburgh city directories listed John W. Simpson as living on Beaver Street (now Arch Street) in Allegheny City. Simpson, a flour and grain merchant, was listed at 66 Central Street in the 1865 directory, and at 64 Central Street (present 845 North Lincoln Avenue) in 1866. It is likely that Simpson lived in the original house at 845 North Lincoln Avenue by 1865, as house numbers may not yet have been standardized on the relatively new street and the house that then stood at 66 Central Street (an earlier dwelling on the present site of 841 North Lincoln Avenue) was owned and occupied by Joseph Tilton and his family.
An 1872 plat map confirms that the first house at present 845 North Lincoln Avenue had been built.

Fire insurance maps depict buildings with more detail than the 1872 plat map. The first fire insurance map of part of Allegheny West, published in 1884, depicts the first house at 845 North Lincoln Avenue as two stories in height. It is likely that the front section of the house had a side-gabled roof, with an attic, and the rear ell had a shed roof that slanted toward the side yard. The rear ell also had a one-story addition that extended back to Chapel Way.
An 1890 plat map depicts the original house with essentially the same footprint as the 1884 fire insurance map had shown. The 1890 plat map shows that the one-story rear addition to the rear ell was of wood frame construction.

Alteration and Addition (1890-1893)

The next fire insurance map, in 1893, shows that the front section of the first house had been enlarged to a full three stories, and the rear ell was still two stories. The front section had been enlarged by an addition to its rear elevation, which filled in the “notch” between the front section and the rear ell. The filling in of the notch appears likely to have taken place before the third story of the front section was added, suggesting that the third story of the front section was constructed between 1890 and 1893. The third story of the rear elevation was clad in slate, although it was apparently not a mansard roof. The one-story frame addition at the rear of the house had been removed.
The house was then owned by Joseph Walton, who had purchased it in 1888. Walton never lived in the house, but allowed his daughter and son-in-law, Ida and James W. Scully, to occupy it.

Alteration and Addition (1895-1899)

The house at 845 North Lincoln Avenue took on its present form through additional alterations that took place between 1895 and 1899. The house was then owned by Ida Scully, who continued to live there with her husband, James W. Scully. Joseph Walton died in 1892, and in 1894 Ida Scully acquired her siblings’ interests in the property and became full owner.

The three-story front section of845 North Lincoln Avenue displays the Richardsonian Romanesque style, which was used in the Pittsburgh area between about 1890 and 1900. As the 1893 fire insurance map depicts the original front section of the house as being three stories, it is possible that the addition of the Richardsonian Romanesque facade took place by that year.

Allegheny City building permit dockets, available beginning in 1894, document changes to 845 North Lincoln Avenue after that year.

On October 8,1895, James W. Scully received a permit for what was described as an alteration to a two-story section of 845 North Lincoln Avenue. The section of the house that was to be altered measured 12′ wide by 16′ deep. The alteration had an estimated construction cost of $850. Building permit records provide no farther information on the 1895 alteration of the house.
On August 14,1896, Scully received a permit for the construction of a three-story brick addition to 845 North Lincoln Avenue. The addition was to measure 22’4″ wide by 20’3″ deep and had an estimated construction cost of $3,300. This permit appears to have been taken for construction of the side addition to the front section of the house.

On July 15, 1899, Scully received a permit for the construction of a new three-story rear ell at 845 North Lincoln Avenue. The addition was to be of brick construction, was to measure 29′ wide by 79′ deep, and had an estimated construction cost of $14,000.

The next fire insurance map to depict 845 North Lincoln Avenue, published in 1906, shows the house’s present footprint.

Construction Cost

In addition to the $20,250 that Joseph Walton paid for 845 North Lincoln Avenue, an additional $19,720 was outlaid to outfit the house for his daughter, Ida in 1888 – a total of $39,970.

The total estimated construction cost of the 1895-1899 alteration and additions to 845 North Lincoln Avenue was $18,150. Estimated construction costs of other buildings in Allegheny City in the 1890s included:

  • Allen Chapel, Columbus Avenue and Fulton Street, Manchester, 1894 – $3,000
  • 4017 Northminster Street, Brighton Heights, 1895 – $3,200
  • 3504 Perrysville Avenue, Observatory Hill, 1897 – $3,650
  • a carriage house at 705 Brighton Road, Allegheny West, 1898 – $4,500
  • 1623 Rhine Street, Spring Hill, 1897 – $5,000
  • 1235 Page Street, Manchester, 1898 – $5,000
  • 930 West North Avenue, Allegheny West, 1895 – $5,317
  • 2014 Osgood Street, Fineview, 1894 – $5,400
  • 61 Riverview Avenue, 1898 – $5,500
  • 3344 Perrysville Avenue, Observatory Hill, 1896 – $8,400
  • 940 West North Avenue, Allegheny West, 1895 – $10,000
  • 836 West North Avenue, 1895-1896 – $12,000

A 1906 renovation saw many additions to the house at 845 North Lincoln Avenue but, due to the annexation of Allegheny City coinciding with this year, many records of cost have been mislaid.

The Contractors

James W. and Ida Scully employed prominent local building contractors for the 1895-1899 alteration and additions to 845 North Lincoln Avenue.

George A. Cochrane

The Scullys hired George A. Cochrane for the 1895 alteration to the house. George A. Cochrane lived at 1612 Sedgwick Street in Manchester and his business was located at 1210 Columbus Avenue in the same neighborhood. Other work by Cochrane, a Civil War veteran, in Allegheny West included the construction of Calvary United Methodist Church and houses at 721 Brighton Road, 841 North Lincoln Avenue, and 911 Ridge Avenue.
Cochran also built a large public bath house at 35th and Butler streets in Lawrenceville, a house at 1023 Murray Hill Avenue in Squirrel Hill and a house at 6824 Juniata Place in Point Breeze.

L. Benz & Brothers

The firm of L. Benz & Brothers constructed the 1896 side addition to the front section of 845 North Lincoln Avenue. L. Benz & Brothers was then located at 125 South 12th Street on the South Side. The firm’s principals were Lawrence Benz of Arlington Avenue, Ferdinand Benz of 125 South 12th Street, John Benz of 1100 Frederick Street, and Philip Benz of 2112 Sarah Street, all on the South Side.

Like most 19th century contracting firms in Pittsburgh, L. Benz & Brothers did nearly all of its work within about a mile of its location. It appears likely that the firm was hired to build the addition to 845 North Lincoln Avenue because Ferdinand Benz and James W. Scully served together as directors of the First National Bank of Birmingham at South 12th and East Carson streets on the South Side.
Larger construction projects by L. Benz & Brothers included the construction of the original buildings of the Duquesne Brewery, Saint Casimir’s School at South 22nd and Jane Streets, three buildings for Thomas Coffin & Company and the Dixon-Woods Company at South 30th and Jane Streets, and commercial/residential buildings at 2004 East Carson Street and 126 Pius Street, all on the South Side.

A & S Wilson

The firm of A & S Wilson constructed the large rear ell at 845 North Lincoln Avenue in 1899. A & S Wilson was located at 541-551 Third Avenue, Downtown. The firm was a partnership of Adam Wilson of 318 North Neville Street, Oakland, J. Charles

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Marshall Brothers

The 1899 rear ell addition to 845 North Lincoln Avenue was constructed with an elevator that was manufactured by Marshall Brothers. The firm operated what was known as the Iron City Elevator and Machine Works at 341-347 Diamond Street, Downtown. Marshall Brothers was then a partnership of George V. Marshall of 814 Saint James Street and Robert Marshall of 707 South Aiken Avenue, both in Shadyside.
Marshall Brothers was a predecessor of the Marshall Elevator Company, which remains in business on Pittsburgh’s South Side under the ninth generation of Marshall family ownership and management. The company began operation in Pittsburgh in 1818 as a foundry, and is now among the oldest manufacturing businesses in the United States.

Architectural Style

The 1890s facade of 845 North Lincoln Avenue was designed in the Richardsonian Romanesque style. The style is shown in the facade’s arched door and window openings, asymmetrical design, terra cotta and brick belt courses connecting window sills, deepset window openings, and sandstone entry porch and sandstone foundation veneer.

The Richardsonian Romanesque style was widely used in the design of public buildings and upper-class and upper-middle-class homes built in the United States between the late 1880s and about 1900. The style was used less frequently than the contemporaneous Queen Anne style because of its cost.
The Richardsonian Romanesque style was developed in the 1870s and 1880s by Boston architect Henry Hobson Richardson. Richardson designed two buildings in Pittsburgh: the Allegheny County Courthouse and Jail (1884-88) and Emmanuel Episcopal Church at the corner of West North and Allegheny Avenues in Allegheny West (1885-86). Richardson was among the most influential architects in the United States between the late 1880s and late 1890s.

Known records do not identify an architect who is credited with design of 845 North Lincoln Avenue.

The Home Today

Photos by Chris Siewers

Through the Years


Residents

The Scullys

Pittsburgh city directories, U.S. census records, Allegheny County marriage license records and other sources provide information on James W. and Ida Walton Scully.

Learn More

The Childses

James H. and Alice Walton Childs owned and lived at 845 North Lincoln Avenue between 1917 and 1923.

Learn More

The 1900 Census

James W and Ida W Scully lived at 845 North Lincoln Avenue with their three children and seven servants as of the 1900 census.

  • James W Scully, 42
  • Ida W Scully, 36
  • James W Scully Jr., 9
  • Alice W Scully, 3
  • Walton T Scully, 1
  • Sabina T Rankin, 62
  • Mary Twerny, 24
  • Kate Twerny, 23
  • John Lewis, 34
  • Rose Bradley, 39
  • Margaret Mccany, 18
  • Elise Mueller, 39

The 1910 Census

James W and Ida W Scully lived at 845 North Lincoln Avenue with their three children and six servants as of the 1910 census.

  • James W Scully, 52
  • Ida W Scully, 43
  • James W Scully Jr., 19
  • Alice W Scully, 13
  • Walton Scully, 11
  • Elise Muller, 25
  • Clara Johnson, 38
  • Arnice Allingham, 29
  • Louise Reichart, 26
  • Jean S Michner, 28
  • William Dickson, 37

The 1930 Census

Samuel and Margaret Crow became the owners of 845 North Lincoln Avenue in 1923. The couple turned the dwelling into a rooming house. The 1930 census recorded 22 residents of 845 North Lincoln Avenue:

  • Samuel Crow, 54, who had no occupation; he had born in Pennsylvania, as had his parents
  • Margaret Crow, 50, the landlady of the rooming house; also born in Pennsylvania to parents born in Pennsylvania
  • Samuel Crow Jr., 25, with no occupation
  • Georgea Crow, 26, wife of Samuel Crow Jr., a Greek immigrant who worked as an interpreter in a department store
  • Ida M. Swichard, 50, a corseteer in a department store, born in Pennsylvania
  • Jane McDowell, 45, a saleslady in a department store, born in Ohio
  • Walter J. Muckle, 50, a salesman with a stock brokerage, born in Pennsylvania
  • Sara Muckle, 35, a private secretary in a broker’s office and apparently the wife of Walter J. Muckle, born in Pennsylvania
  • Arabella Hall, 50, a saleswoman in a department store, born in Ohio
  • Rebecca McKinsie, 56, a housekeeper in a rooming house, born in Pennsylvania
  • Clara Cummings, 38, a public school teacher, born in Pennsylvania
  • A. Woodward, 60, a saleswoman in a department store
  • Henry Harris, 90, with no occupation, born in Pennsylvania
  • Morrison A. Bryan, 32, an orchestra musician born in Pennsylvania
  • Helen Bryan, 28, with no occupation and apparently the wife of Morrison A. Bryan, born in Pennsylvania
  • Robert E. Paget, 49, a bridge construction engineer, born in Tennessee
  • Lily Paget, 49, with no occupation and apparently the wife of Robert Paget, born in Tennessee
  • Walter B. Paget, 24, a stationary engineer working on a bridge and apparently the son of Robert and Lily Paget, born in Tennessee
  • Dorothy A. Paget, 14, apparently the daughter of Robert and Lily Paget, born in Tennessee
  • John L. Cummings, 70, with no occupation, born in Pennsylvania
  • Vera Kennedy, 36, with no occupation, born in Pennsylvania
  • Vera J. Kennedy, six, apparently a daughter of Vera Kennedy, born in Pennsylvania

Records of the 1930 census also show that 845 North Lincoln Avenue had an estimated value of $24,000 and that Samuel and Margaret Crow owned a radio.

The 1930 census is the most recent census that provides detailed information on occupants of 845 North Lincoln Avenue. Manuscript census records are withheld from the public for 72 years, to protect the privacy of persons enumerated.

Supplementary Materials

The following materials accompany this report:

  • a copy of part of an 1852 map depicting Allegheny City
  • a copy of an 1872 plat map of the area around 845 North Lincoln Avenue
  • copies of parts of fire insurance maps of the area around 845 North Lincoln Avenue, published in 1884, 1893, 1906 and 1926, and the 1926 map, updated by the publisher to 1950
  • a listing for the Scully family in the 1920 Pittsburgh Social Secretaire
  • a description of the Walton sisters from the 1888 edition of The Social Mirror
  • an article describing a dance held for Alice Walton Scully from the Pittsburgh Gazette Times, December 15, 1915
  • a listing for The Crossways Shop, run by Ida Walton Scully, in the 1917 R.L. Polk & Co. Pittsburgh city directory
  • a photo of Joseph Walton from the 1901 Notable Men of Pittsburgh and Vicinity
  • the death notice of James W. Scully, from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, July 16, 1934
  • the death notice of Ida Walton Scully, from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, October 11, 1951
  • the death notice of Alice Walton Childs, from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, September 16, 1963
  • the death notice of James H. Childs, from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, December 23, 1963
  • the obituary of Rachel Mellon Walton, from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, March 4, 2006
  • a story on the home’s inclusion in the Allegheny West Wine & Garden Tour from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, May 30, 2015

A Researched History
By: Carol J. Peterson

all photos by Chris Siewers, unless otherwise noted

843 Western Avenue

843 Western Avenue (Front Door)

Introduction

843 Western Avenue was constructed no later than 1860, and probably as early as about 1850. The house was designed in a transitional architectural style that incorporated elements of the Greek Revival and Italianate styles.

The Irwin family, who owned property on Western Avenue between Brighton Road and Allegheny Avenue, was responsible for construction of 843 Western Avenue. The Irwins had the house built on the site of a rope walk, or factory, where members of the family supervised the production of rope between 1813 and 1858. The Irwin family then lived in a mansion facing Brighton Road, and never occupied 843 Western Avenue. It is possible, however, that 843 Western Avenue, which was probably built while the rope walk was still in operation, originally housed upper-level rope walk employees.

In 1860, the Irwin family sold 843 Western Avenue for $3000. The purchaser, George Elliott, did not live in the house, but used it as a rental property. His tenants included the family of Benjamin Oppenheimer, a merchant tailor.

843 Western Avenue has now had a total of 17 owners.

Detailed information on the history of 843 Western Avenue is contained in the following report.

Ownership

  • March 17, 1790
  • November 2, 1813
  • March 9, 1816
  • March 5, 1858
  • May 10, 1860
  • January 26, 1901
  • August 10. 1903
  • September 2, 1903
  • September 11, 1903
  • June 15, 1906
  • December 5. 1916
  • May 29, 1925
  • August 31, 1936
  • October 20, 1937
  • June 10, 1947
  • June 3, 1950
  • June 22, 1950
  • August 4, 1950
  • August 18, 1951
  • March 19, 1953
  • December 19, 1961
  • October 16, 1980

Charles Wilkins, merchant, of the town of Pittsburgh conveyed property that included the present site of 843 Western Avenue to John Irwin, esquire, of the town of Pittsburgh for 30 pounds. 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 10-acre tract situated on the western side of land laid out for a common, and bounded by what are now Brighton Road, Ridge Avenue, Galveston Avenue and Western Avenue. Out Lot 276 included the present site of 843 Western Avenue. Lot 69 in the Town of Allegheny was a 60′ wide by 240′ deep lot at the comer of Ohio Street and Sandusky Street, measuring 60′ wide on Ohio Street and 240′ deep along Sandusky Street to Strawberry Alley.

(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 property that included the site of 843 Western Avenue to John Irwin of the borough of Pittsburgh, another of the sons and heir s of John Irwin, rope maker, for $1,772. This deed conveyed Out Lots 276, 263 and 168 in the Reserve Tract, containing 10 acres each, and property on Liberty Street in the borough of Pittsburgh. John Irwin had died intestate and was survived by his widow Mary and four children, Margaret, John, William, and Elizabeth.

(DBV 19 P 127)

John and Hannah Irwin of the town of Allegheny conveyed property that included the present site of 843 Western Avenue to Elizabeth Irwin and Margaret Irwin of the town of Allegheny. This deed conveyed Out Lot 276 in the Reserve Tract and other property in the borough of Pittsburgh. This deed was an amicable and full and equal deed of partition of the estate of John Irwin.

(DBV 22 P 189)

John and Abigail Irwin of Allegheny City conveyed property on Western Avenue to John Irwin Jr. of Sewickley for $8,000. This deed conveyed property on the southern side of what is now the 800 block of Western Avenue (then Water Lane), measuring 349′ wide along Western Avenue by 125′ deep to an alley (later Manilla Alley, now Maolis Way). The property was known as Lots 23 through 38 in a plan of lots laid out by John Irwin (later recorded in Allegheny County Plan Book 2: 173).

(DBV 131 P 495)

Martha Mary and John Irwin Jr. of Sewickley conveyed 843 Western Avenue to George Elliott of Beaver County for $3,000. The house occupied the lot on which it now stands, measuring 27.5′ wide along Western Avenue by 125′ deep to an alley. The lot was known as parts of Lots 34 and 35 in a plan of lots laid out by John Irwin. This deed stated that the property that was conveyed contained a two-story brick dwelling house.

(DBV 143 P 484)

The heirs of George Elliott, deceased, conveyed their interest in 843 Western Avenue to Andrew A. Adams, also an heir of George Elliott, for $10,000. Grantors named in this deed were Andrew A. Adams, unmarried; John and Emma B. Adams; Thomas E. and Hattie Adams; Christiana and John Q. Adams; Nancy E. and Iredell B. Rush, all of Whitley County, Indiana; Andrew Adams Jr., unmarried, of El Paso County, Colorado; John Elliott, unmarried, of Jackson County, Missouri; Laura Elliott, widow, of Centre County, Pennsylvania; George M. Elliott, unmarried, of Marion County, Missouri; William W. Elliott, unmarried, of San Francisco, California; Joseph W. and May V. Elliott of Clinton County, Pennsylvania; John H. and Blanche W. Elliott of Grayson County, Texas; and Jane and James H. Doherty and Margaret Elliott, unmarried, of Allegheny County, Pennsylvania.

(DBV 1112 P 365)

Andrew A. and Lois A. Adams of Columbia, Indiana, conveyed part-interest in 843 Western Avenue to John H. and Margaret G. Dailey of Allegheny City for $5,000.

(DBV 1298 P 214)

James Harris of Bellefonte, Pennsylvania, guardian of the person and estate of Elliott Vandeventer, a minor child of Kate Vandeventer and heir of George Elliott, conveyed the remaining part-interest in 843 Western Avenue to John H. Dailey of Allegheny City for $166.66.

(DBV 1288 P 217)

John H. and Margaret G. Dailey of Allegheny City conveyed 843 Western Avenue to Mary J. Armstrong for $5,500.

(DBV 1288 P 212)

Mary J. Armstrong of Pittsburgh conveyed 843 Western Avenue to George C. Lecky of Allegheny City for $5,850. George C. Lecky died in October 1913.

(DBV 1451 P 594)

Catherine Dallas Lecky, widow, of Pittsburgh conveyed 843 Western Avenue to the Home Mutual Building & Loan Association of Allegheny City, Pennsylvania, for $1 and other good and valuable considerations.

(DBV 1854 P 523)

The Home Mutual Building & Loan Association of Allegheny City, Pennsylvania conveyed 843 Western Avenue to Anna C. Lecky of Pittsburgh for $6,350. Anna C. Lecky died on December 18, 1933.

(DBV 2253 P 274)

W.C. and Jane C. Lecky Bender, Nielsen Lecky Smith, Trevanion and Adelia R.P. Lecky, all of Pittsburgh, conveyed 843 Western Avenue to John S. Phipps, Henry C. Phipps and Howard Phipps, as trustees under the Phipps Pennsylvania Land Trust, for $1 (tax stamps suggest a price of $5,000).

(DBV 2638 P 350)

John S. Phipps, Henry C. Phipps and Howard Phipps, as trustees under the Phipps Pennsylvania Land Trust, conveyed 843 Western Avenue to D.C. and Agnes Mae Greene of Pittsburgh for S3,000.

(DBV 2577 P 192)

D.C. and Agnes Mae Greene of Pittsburgh conveyed 843 Western Avenue to Stephen Kovacs of Pittsburgh for $1 and other good and valuable considerations (tax stamps suggest a price of $5,000).

(DBV 2945 P 655)

Stephen Kovacs of Pittsburgh conveyed 843 Western Avenue to James P. Casey of Pittsburgh for $1 and other good and valuable considerations (tax stamps suggest a price of $6,500).

(DBV 3100 P 22)

James P. and Marie W. Casey of Pittsburgh conveyed 843 Western Avenue to Patrick B. and E. Blanche Hart of Pittsburgh for $1 and other good and valuable considerations (tax stamps suggest a price of $7,500).

(DBV 3091 P 721)

Patrick B. and E. Blanche Hart of Pittsburgh conveyed 843 Western Avenue to Walter F. Johnson of Pittsburgh for $1 and other good and valuable considerations.

(DBV 3101 P 554)

Walter F. Johnson of Pittsburgh conveyed 843 Western Avenue to Joan and David Burrows Jr. of Crafton for $1 and other good and valuable considerations (tax stamps suggest a price of $7,500).

(DBV 3158 P 230)

Joan and David Burrows Jr. of Crafton conveyed 843 Western Avenue to Greeta L. Harbaugh of Pittsburgh for $13,000.

(DBV 3249 P 608)

Albert E. and Greeta L. Harbaugh Boyer of Pinellas County, Florida conveyed 843 Western Avenue to McClurg H. and Frances A. Shelton of Allegheny County for $10,500. McClurg H. Shelton died on April 15, 1970.

(DBV 3924 P 660)

Francis John Schmitt Jr. purchased 843 Western Avenue from Frances A. Shelton, widow.

(DBV 6309 P 954)

Age of the House

Construction

All available information indicates that members of the Irwin family had 843 Western Avenue built no later than 1860, and possibly as early as about 1850.

Maitha Mary and John Irwin Jr. of Sewickley conveyed 843 Western Avenue to George Elliott on May 10, 1860. This deed stated that the lot that was conveyed contained a two-story brick house. Exterior architectural features of 843 Western Avenue are consistent with construction in or before 1860, and indicate that the present house is the same that was conveyed by the 1860 deed. The purchase price of S3 000 is also consistent with the size, brick construction, and location of 843 Western Avenue.
An 1852 map that includes Allegheny City is the earliest map of the area that depicts structures. The map shows a structure in the approximate location of 843-845 Western Avenue. An 1858 plan of lots on the former rope walk site (Allegheny County Plan Book Volume 2, Page 173) also depicts double houses on the southern side of the 800 block of Western Avenue. It should be noted that the westernmost double house in the 1858 plan of lots is not depicted as occupying the lots on which 843-845 Western Avenue stand. However, as it is unlikely that the Irwins demolished and rebuilt the double houses between 1858 and 1860, it appears likely that 843-845 Western Avenue was the structure depicted in the 1852 map and 1858 subdivision plan.

Architectural style

843 Western Avenue was built with elements of the Italianate and Greek Revival styles.

Italianate features of 843 Western Avenue include the house’s side-gabled shape with rear shed-roof ell and its wood brackets. The house, as an early example of this style, does not display the arched, projecting window hoods that were common in Italianate homes built after the Civil War. The pediment that joins the front door entablatures of 843 and 845 Western Avenue is a Greek Revival feature, and supports the likelihood that 843-845 Western Avenue was built closer to 1850 than to 1860.
The Greek Revival style was used in construction of houses and commercial and institutional buildings in the Pittsburgh area between about 1830 and the 1850’s. The Italianate style was the prevailing architectural style for homes and commercial and institutional buildings constructed in the Pittsburgh area between about 1860 and 1885.

Available records do not identify an architect who is credited with design of 843 Western Avenue.

Owners & Residents

The Elliotts

George Elliott purchased 843 Western Avenue from John Irwin Jr. and his wife, Martha Mary Irwin, on May 10, 1860. The 1860 census, taken on June 15 of that year in Allegheny West, enumerated George Elliott and his family in the Second Ward of Allegheny City, indicating the family did not live at 843 Western Avenue. Western Avenue was the boundary between Allegheny City’s First and Second Wards, with the First Ward located to the south and the Second Ward to the north.
George Elliott was listed in the 1861 Pittsburgh directory for the first time in 1861. Elliott was listed as a gent living on Western Avenue near the lead works in 1861, and as a gent living on Western Avenue near the West Commons in 1862. Neither he or other members of his family appeared in directories published in 1863 and in later years.

George Elliott and his heirs owned 843 Western Avenue until 1903.

1875 and Earlier

Pittsburgh city directories provide the only means of identifying residents of 843 Western Avenue before 1875, the year that the family of Benjamin Oppenheimer is known to have rented the house. Directories listed nearly all residents of Pittsburgh and Allegheny City alphabetically, making it necessary to read directories to determine occupancy of 843 Western Avenue and other houses that were occupied by tenants.
Homes on the 800 block of Western Avenue were assigned numbers in about 1867. Identification of tenents before this time is probably impossible.

1876-1880

The 1880 census enumerated Benjamin Oppenheimer and his family at 43 (now 843) Western Avenue. Benjamin Oppenheimer, 46, was enumerated as a merchant tailor. He had been bom in Germany and his wife, Eva, had been bom in Poland.

Benjamin and Eva Oppenheimer had three children who lived with them at 43 Western Avenue: Jacob, 21, and Samuel, 17, both store clerks, and Nora, 11.
The Oppenheimer family employed one servant who lived at 43 Western Avenue. Julia Kier, 23, had been bom in Pennsylvania to German immigrant parents.

Pittsburgh city directories show that the Oppenheimer family lived at 843 Western Avenue between 1876 and 1880. Benjamin Oppenheimer’s shop was located on Market Street, Downtown.

Neighborhood Development

843 Western Avenue was built over a decade before 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

Rope Walk

835 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.

Learn More

Supplementary Materials

The following materials accompany this report:


A Researched History
By: Carol J. Peterson

all photos by Chris Siewers, unless otherwise noted

912 Galveston Avenue

912 Galveston Avenue (Front)

Introduction

912 Galveston Avenue, originally known as 140 Grant Avenue, is a two-story brick house occupying a 55′ wide by 35′ deep lot located in the Allegheny West section of Pittsburgh’s Northside.

Josephine Noe Dale, a physician’s widow and a descendant of John Alden, commissioned construction of 912 Galveston Avenue between May 1873 and March 1874. The house was probably built by Reed & Craig, a contracting firm whose shop was located on Beech Avenue near Brighton Road.

Josephine Noe Dale and her daughter Mary Maitland, a school teacher, lived at 912 Galveston Avenue for about 25 years, sharing the house with a number of boarders. After Josephine Noe Dale died in 1898, her descendants owned 912 Galveston Avenue until 1942, maintaining the house as an apartment building.

Detailed information on the ownership history, age, and first owner of 912 Galveston Avenue follows.

Ownership

  • May 3, 1873
  • June 24, 1929
  • March 20, 1942
  • June 25, 1942
  • October 29, 1942
  • May 2, 1977
  • February 22, 1980
  • May 30, 1980
  • May 8, 1981
  • March 23, 1993

Robert M. and R.B. Dickey of Allegheny City to Mrs. Josephine N. Dale of Allegheny City, $3,000. This deed and subsequent deeds conveyed a 55′ wide by 35′ deep lot located at the northeastern corner of Grant Avenue (now Galveston Avenue) and Pasture Alley (now Dounton Way). The lot was part of a larger tract of land that Robert Dickey had purchased from Mrs. Elizabeth F. Denny on August 16, 1866, recorded in Deed Book Volume 207, Page 221.

(Deed Book Volume 312, Page 73)

Josephine A. Bakewell, widow, of Riverside, California, to Mary M. Bakewell of Riverside, California, $10. Josephine N. Dale had died on August 22, 1898, and in her will, dated December 10, 1896 and recorded in Will Book Volume 57, Page 17, left the property to her daughter Mary Maitland, who died on July 11, 1928 at Riverside, California, intestate, unmarried and without issue, and survived by Josephine A. Bakewell, a niece, as her only heir at law.

(DBV 2399 P 178)

Thomas Bakewell, unmarried, individually and as trustee under the will of Mary M. Bakewell, deceased, of Riverside, California, and Charles M. Bakewell of New Haven, Connecticut, to Michael Lucas of the city of Pittsburgh, $2,750. Mary M. Bakewell had died on March 3, 1937 in Riverside, California and left the property to her brother Thomas Bakewell in trust to pay the income to himself for life with the power to sell the property with the approval of Charles M. Bakewell. Charles M. Bakewell joined in this conveyance to show his consent to and approval of the sale.

(DBV 2729 P 410)

Michael and Virginia Lucas of the city of Pittsburgh to Ruth J. Burdman of the city of Pittsburgh, $1 and other valuable considerations.

(DBV 2732 P 602)

Ruth J. and Louis P. Burdman of the city of Pittsburgh to James L. Caine of the city of Pittsburgh, $1 and other valuable considerations.

(DBV 2743 P 296)

James L. and Antoinette Caine of the city of Pittsburgh to Eric Vaughn Shearer of the city of Pittsburgh, $5,000.

(DBV 5772 P 207)

Eric Vaughn Shearer of the city of Pittsburgh to Mark W. Shearer of the city of Pittsburgh, $5,000.

(DBV 6259 P 820)

Mark W. Shearer of the city of Pittsburgh to Louis John DePellegrini of the city of Pittsburgh, $24,000.

(DBV 6259 P 816)

Louis John DePellegrini of the city of Pittsburgh to Miles Leroy Bausch of Washington, Washington County and Douglas Michael Lucas of the city of Pittsburgh, $34,000.

(DBV 6367 P 728)

Miles L. Bausch and Douglas M. Lucas to Carolyn Anne Maue, $60,000.

(DBV 8929 P 559)

Age of the House

All available information indicates that Josephine Noe Dale had 912 Galveston Avenue built between May 1873 and March 1874.

An 1872 plat map of the Allegheny West area shows that 912 Galveston Avenue had not yet been built. The land on which the house now stands was still part of a lot occupied by a home at the southeastern corner of Beech and Grant (now Galveston) Avenues, with a carriage house occupying the present site of 912 Galveston Avenue.

Josephine N. Dale’s May 3, 1873 purchase of the 55′ wide by 35′ deep lot on which 912 Galveston Avenue now stands for $3,000, at $1.55 per square foot, was slightly higher than costs per square foot for nearby undeveloped properties and indicates that 912 Galveston Avenue had not yet been built. The slightly higher cost may have reflected the value of the carriage house on the lot or the 55′ front footage, wider than most Allegheny West lots.

Allegheny County mortgage records show that on March 18, 1874 (Mortgage Book Volume 182, Page 91), Josephine N. Dale borrowed $1,400 against the lot she owned at Grant Avenue and Pasture Alley from William Reed and John Craig of Allegheny City, partners in the firm of Reed & Craig. The mortgage stated that the lot contained a two-story brick dwelling.
Pittsburgh city directories published during the early 1870’s show that Reed & Craig was a carpentry firm with a shop located on Beech Avenue near Irwin Avenue (now Brighton Road). The firm was a partnership of William Reed of 69 Lincoln Avenue (840 North Lincoln Avenue) and John Craig of 101 Webster Avenue (now Sherman Avenue; house demolished), Allegheny City.

It is likely that Josephine N. Dale hired Reed & Craig to build her new home on Grant Avenue. The $1,400 that Josephine N. Dale borrowed from Reed & Craig, while much lower than the probable construction cost of 912 Galveston Avenue, may have been the unpaid balance of of the construction cost of 912 Galveston Avenue.

912 Galveston Avenue was originally known as 140 Grant Avenue. Most older Northaide neighborhoods received their current street numbers in 1899 and 1900. Grant Avenue became Galveston Avenue after the 1907 annexation of Allegheny City by the city of Pittsburgh, when many street names were changes to avoid duplication.

Through the Years

912 Galvestion in the 80s

Residents

Josephine Dale

U.S. census records, Pittsburgh city directories, and biographical materials provide information on Josephine Dale, the first owner of 912 Galveston Avenue, and members of her family.

Learn More

Occupants in 1900

The 1900 manuscript census indicates that 912 Grant Avenue was occupied by families headed by Hugh McCarroll, George Geyser, and Aldus Fay.

Hugh McCarroll, 32, was a student who had been unemployed during most of the previous year. He had been born in Michigan to parents born in Ireland and Scotland.

He and his wife Ada F., 34, had been married two years and had no children. Ada F. McCarroll had been born in Iowa to parents who were natives of Pennsylvania.
George Geyser, a 25-year-old pattern maker, and his wife Mame, 20, had been married three years and had no children. Both had been born in Pennsylvania to parents born in Pennsylvania.

Aldus Fay, a 27-year-old clerk, and his wife Charlotte, 33, had two daughters: Helen E., three, and Marian R., two months. All family members had been born in Pennsylvania.

Occupants in 1910

By 1910, 912 Galveston Avenue was divided into six apartments. The 1910 manuscript census enumerated the families of Lewis B. West, Arthur Aust, Elmer H. Moore, Alonzo Curren, Joseph Ostrow and Henry Husser at 912 Galveston Avenue, with a total of 14 people living in the house.

Lewis B. West, 46, a native of Maryland, was a flower salesman. He and his wife Fanny, 46, born in Louisiana, had had three children, two of whom were alive at the time of the census: Florence, 18, and Martha A., 13. The Wests were the only couple with children living at 912 Galveston Avenue.

Arthur Aust, 33, a native of Ohio, worked as an engineer for a construction company. His wife Anna M. , 23, had been born in Austria and immigrated in 1902.
Elmer H. Moore, 30, was a traveling stationery salesman. He and his wife of three years, Lillian, 19, had both been born in New Jersey.

Alonzo Curren, 30, was a machinist who was unemployed at the time of the census and had been unemployed during all of 1909. He and his wife Mamie, 22, were natives of Pennsylvania.

Joseph Ostrow, 23, was a ladies clothing salesman who had been born in Pennsylvania to Russian immigrant parents. His wife Lucy, 18, had been born in Massachuetts. The cojiple had been married one year.

Harry Husser, 34, a hotel chef, had been born in Germany and immigrated in 1900. Rose, 32, his wife of less than one year, had been born in Germany and immigrated in 1904.

The 21st Century

After enjoying life in Europe for 37 years as Department of Defense Overseas School (DoDDS) teachers, Carole and John Robert purchased the house in 2006. Extensive renovations occurred during their first year in their new home. Wooden floors were laid to replace the carpeting on the first two floors, new windows were installed, and the kitchen was remodeled. John and Carole refer to 912 Galveston as “their European cottage” because nearly all the furnishings in the house were purchased during their many years living overseas.

Neighborhood Development

912 Galveston Avenue was built several years after the area around Galveston and Beech Avenues began to develop as 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.

Learn More

Supplementary Materials

The following materials accompany this report:

  • a copy of an 1852 map of Allegheny City and adjacent areas
  • a copy of an 1872 plat map of part of Allegheny West, including Galveston Avenue
  • a copy of a 1910 plat map of part of Allegheny West, including Galveston Avenue
  • information on Josephine N. Dale, from The Social Mirror (1888), a book about prominent Pittsburgh area women
  • the obituary of Josephine N. Dale, from the Pittsburgh Bulletin, a society magazine, August 27, 1898

A Researched History
By: Carol J. Peterson

all photos by Chris Siewers, unless otherwise noted

Josephine Dale

Josephine Dale was born Josephine Noe Alden in 1815 in Newark, New Jersey. She was a daughter of the Reverend Timothy Alden, founder of Allegheny College in Meadville, and a descendant of John Alden, who had crossed the Atlantic Ocean on the Mayflower.

In 1829, at age 14, Josephine Noe Alden was brought by her parents to Pittsburgh. She soon married William Maitland, and the couple had two daughters, Mary and Margaret, in 1835. William Maitland died and left Josephine Noe Maitland a widow at age 26 in 1841.

By 1852, Josephine Noe Maitland lived in Allegheny City (now Pittsburgh’s Northside), residing on the East Commons (now Cedar Avenue) at the corner of Water Street. Josephine Noe Maitland, 40, married Dr. Thomas Dale, 45, a physician who lived on the South Commons, in 1855. Dr. Thomas Dale was a native of Delaware.

Dr. Thomas and Josephine Noe Dale began living on the South Commons between Sandusky and Federal Streets. An immediate neighbor was I. Morrison, then Mayor of Allegheny City.

The 1860 manuscript census shows that Dr. Thomas and Josephine Noe Dale lived on the South Commons with other family members and three servants. The census taken in that year does not provide information on familial relationships of persons enumerated, making it difficult to determine the relationships of some members of the Dale household.

Living with Thomas and Josephine Noe Dale were Mary Maitland, 25, a public school teacher, Margaret Maitland, 25, who had no occupation, M. Dale (female), 28, R. Dale (male), 21, a clerk, L. Dale (female), 12, J. McLane (female), 23, apparently a boarder, and three servants: H. Coyle (female), 40, born in Ireland, R. Rooney (female), 26, born in Ireland, and W. Burke (male), 28, born in New Jersey. E. Coyle, 13, probably a child of H. Coyle, also lived with the family.

The Dale family moved from the South Commons to 19 Stockton Avenue, near Federal Street, in 1863, lived there until about 1869, then moved to 205 Western Avenue in Allegheny West, where they lived when the 1870 census was taken. The 1870 manuscript census enumerated Dr. Thomas and Josephine Noe Dale, Josephine Noe Dale’s daughters Mary and Margaret Maitland, both 35, Louisa Dale, 21, and a servant whose first name was Annie.

The 1870 manuscript census, the last census to provide information on assets of persons enumerated, reported that Dr. Thomas Dale owned no real estate and had a personal estate of $10,000.

The Dale family moved to 38 Monterey Street (now 1222 Monterey Street) in what is now the Mexican War Streets area in about 1872. Dr. Thomas Dale died at about this time, on January 7, 1872. Josephine Noe Dale bought the lot on which 912 Galveston Avenue stands the following year, and had the house built by March 1874.

During the 1870’s, Margaret Maitland married Thomas Bakewell, an attorney who was a member of a family that owned a glass factory on Pittsburgh’s South Side.

The 1880 manuscript census enumerated Josephine Noe Dale, 65, her daughter Mary Maitland, 43, a school teacher, and four boarders living at 140 Grant Avenue. The boarders were Thomas Swartz, 31, a druggist who had been born in Pennsylvania, his wife Carrie, 22, born in New Jersey, their daughter Anna E., four months, and Louisa Long, 49, who was widowed or divorced and a native of Pennsylvania. No servants were reported to live at 140 Grant Avenue.

The 1890 manuscript census, which would provide information on residents of 140 Grant Avenue in that year, was destroyed in a fire following its completion.

Josephine Noe Dale lived at 140 Grant Avenue until her death in August 1898 in Cape May, New Jersey, shortly after a fall in Cape May. Funeral services were held at her home.

Pittsburgh city directories indicate that Mary Maitland lived at 912 Grant Avenue for the first few years of the 20th century, then died or left the Pittsburgh area. The 1900 census, however, did not enumerate Mary Maitland at 912 Grant Avenue.

Although descendants of Josephine Noe Dale owned 912 Galveston Avenue through 1942, no family members lived in
the house, which was divided into small apartments and maintained as a rental property.

Press

The Social Mirror

“Mrs. Dale, of Allegheny, widow of Dr. Thomas Dale, was a Miss Alden of Puritan stock. She was a sister of the late Mrs. James B. McFadden. Mrs. Dale’s daughter, Miss Maitland, lives with her; another daughter, Mrs. Thomas Bakewell, residing in Riverside, California.”

The Pittsburgh Bulletin

“The death on Monday, of Mrs. Josephine Noe Dale, widow of Dr. Thomas F. Dale, took place at Cape May, and removed a venerable and most highly esteemed woman, prominent in social circles in her day in the two cities, and related to some of the foremost families of Pittsburgh and Allegheny. She was bom in Newark, N. J., her father being the Reverend Timothy Alden, founder of Allegheny College in Meadeville. In 1829 she came to the city and was married to William Maitland who died in 1841. In 1855 she married Dr. Dale. Her warm heart and sympathetic nature impelled her to active charitable and philanthropic work during the Civil War and thereafter so that her name became identified with good deeds well done. She was prominent in the management of the Home for the Friendless, the Relief Society of Allegheny and similar institutions. The deceased was an original member of the North Presbyterian Church, Allegheny, and was . deeply interested in its concerns. Her gifts of mind and person were exceptional. A few weeks ago Mrs. Dale sustained injuries from a fall on the boardwalk at Cape May Point resulting in her death. She is survived by two daughters – Miss Maitland of Allegheny and Mrs. Thomas Bakewell of California. These were with their mother at the time of her death. The funeral services were held on Thursday afternoon from the main residence on Grant Avenue, Allegheny.”

843 Beech Avenue

843 Beech Avenue (Front Door)

Introduction

843 Beech Avenue is a three story brick and stone house occupying a 70’6″ wide by 137’4.5″ deep lot located in the Allegheny West section of the city of Pittsburgh.

843 Beech Avenue was built by Jacob F. Diffenbacher, publisher of the Pittsburgh city directory, in 1892 or 1893. Jacob Diffenbacher lived at 843 Beech Avenue until his death in 1898, and his wife Susan lived at 843 Beech Avenue until she sold the house in 1903.

Detailed information on the ownership history, age, and first owner of 843 Beech Avenue follows.

Ownership

  • December 18, 1879
  • March 11, 1890
  • March 11, 1890
  • July 11, 1892
  • July 12, 1892
  • May 1, 1893
  • October 28, 1903
  • April 11, 1904
  • December 16, 1908
  • July 7, 1909
  • February 21, 1916
  • April 20, 1928
  • April 20, 1928
  • April 28, 1928
  • April 28, 1928
  • September 15, 1942
  • June 22, 1949
  • August 6, 1949
  • July 2, 1956
  • January 24, 1974
  • April 14, 1975
  • April 18, 1977
  • November 7, 1977
  • March 29, 1979

Partition of the Estate of Elizabeth F. Denny, deceased. Robert McKnight, Esquire, and Rev. William M. Paxton, executors of the last will and testament of Elizabeth F. Denny, late of the city of Pittsburgh, to Mary O’Hara Spring, daughter of Elizabeth F. Denny, Margaret S. Denny, widow, and Henry S. Denny, James O’Hara Denny and Francis H. Denny, children of James O’Hara Denny, deceased, a son of Elizabeth F. Denny, Nancy Denny, widow, and Harmar D. Denny, Elizabeth (called Betty) Denny, and William Denny, children of William Croghan Denny, deceased, a son of Elizabeth F. Denny (St. Clair Denny, another son of William Croghan Denny, having died intestate and without issue before the death of Elizabeth F. Denny), Elizabeth O’Hara McKnight, daughter of Elizabeth F. Denny, Caroline Sophia Paxton, daughter of Elizabeth F. Denny, Amelia Melusina Brereton, daughter of Elizabeth F. Denny, Matilda Wilkins Denny, daughter of Elizabeth F. Denny, and Harmar Denny, son of Elizabeth F. Denny. This 65-page deed conveyed to Elizabeth F. Denny’s heirs many pieces of property in areas now known as Allegheny West, Manchester, Lower Lawrenceville, Polish Hill, the Hill District, the Strip District, Harmar Township and Downtown Pittsburgh.

(Deed Book Volume 401, Page 110)

Harmar D. and Elizabeth B. Denny of the city of Pittsburgh to J.F. Diffenbacher of the borough of Ben Avon, $5,625. This deed conveyed a 22’6″ wide by 137’4.5″ deep lot on the southern side of Beech Avenue, 176’9.75″ east of Grant Avenue (now Galveston Avenue) in the Second Ward of the city of Allegheny. The lot was known as part of Lot 28 in Block 1 in the Denny Estate Plan of Property, recorded in Plan Book Volume 6, Pages 193 and 194. This deed was later re-recorded in DBV 1308, P 154.

(DBV 719 P 39)

Charles W. and Elizabeth F. Sargent of Boston, Massachusetts to J.F. Diffenbacher of the city of Allegheny, $250. This deed conveyed a 1′ wide by 137’4.5″ deep lot on the southern side of Beech Avenue, 199’3.75″ east of Grant Avenue. The lot was known as part of Lot 27 in Block 1 in the Denny Estate Plan of Property.

(DBV 797 P 373)

J.F. and Susan E. Diffenbacher of Ben Avon to John C. Leitch of the city of Allegheny, $6,500. This deed conveyed a 23’6″ wide lot known as part of Lots 27 and 28.

(DBV 797 P 374)

John C. and Ida Leitch of the city of Allegheny to Susan E. Diffenbacher of the borough of Ben Avon, $6500. This deed conveyed a 23’6″ wide lot known as part of Lots 27 and 28.

(DBV 804, P 265)

Mary O’Hara Spring of the city of Pittsburgh, Amelia M. Brereton of Yonkers, New York, Reverend Harmar Denny of New York, New York to Elizabeth F. Sargent of Boston, Massachusetts, $1. This deed conveyed a 47′ wide by 137’4.5″ deep lot on the southern side of Beech Avenue, 239′ west of Ash Alley (now Rope Way) in the Second Ward of the city of Allegheny. The Lot was known as Lots 29 and 30 in Block 1 of the Denny Estate Plan of Property.

(DBV 911 P 508)

Susan E. Diffenbacher, widow, of the city of Allegheny to William McGee of Glenfield, Allegheny County, $14,500. This deed conveyed a 23’6″ wide lot identified as all of Lot 28. All subsequent deeds conveying this lot identified it as all of Lot 28.

(DBV 1293 P 284)

William McGee of the city of Allegheny to Mary Ann McGee and Emma McGee of the city of Allegheny, $1. This deed conveyed Lot 28.

(DBV 1325 P 337)

Mary Ann McGee, unmarried, of the Northside, city of Pittsburgh, to Emma McGee of the Northside, city of Pittsburgh, $1. This deed conveyed the one half interest of Mary Ann McGee in Lot 28 to Emma McGee.

(DBV 1731 P 488)

Emma McGee, unmarried, to Margaret Good, unmarried, $10. This deed conveyed Lot 28.

(DBV 1925 P 128)

Elizabeth F.D. and Addis M. Whitney of Boston, Massachusetts to John Fogarty of the city of Pittsburgh, $5000. This deed conveyed Lots 29 and 30.

(DBV 1849, P 225)

John A. and Margaret Good Fogarty of the city of Pittsburgh to Rachel A. Good, unmarried, of the city of Pittsburgh, $1 and other valuable considerations. This deed conveyed Lot 28.

(DBV 2361 P 222)

Rachel A. Good, unmarried, of the city of Pittsburgh to John A. and Margaret Good Fogarty of the city of Pittsburgh, $1 and other valuable considerations. This deed conveyed Lot 28.

(DBV 2361 P 225)

John A. and Margaret Good Fogarty of the city of Pittsburgh to Rachel A. Good, unmarried, of the city of Pittsburgh, $1 and other valuable considerations. This deed conveyed Lots 29 and 30.

(DBV 2361 P 224)

Rachel A. Good, unmarried, of the city of Pittsburgh to John A. and Margaret Good Fogarty of the city of Pittsburgh, $1 and other valuable considerations. This deed conveyed Lots 29 and 30.

(DBV 2361 P 226)

Margaret Good Fogarty, widow, of the city of Pittsburgh to the Sisters of Mercy, a corporation located in the city of Pittsburgh, $1. John A. Fogarty had died on December 22, 1929. This deed conveyed Lots 28, 29 and 30.

(DBV 2735 P 541)

The Sisters of Mercy, a corporation located in the city of Pittsburgh, to Abbott Sales and Service, Inc., a corporation located in the city of Pittsburgh, $9,000. This deed conveyed Lots 28, 29 and 30.

(DBV 3052 P 198)

Abbott Sales and Service, Inc., a corporation located in the city of Pittsburgh, to Nettie D. Lewis of the city of Pittsburgh, $1 and other valuable considerations. This deed conveyed Lot 28.

(DBV 3058 P 632)

Abbott Sales and Service, Inc., a corporation located in the city of Pittsburgh, to Nettie D. Lewis of the city of Pittsburgh, $5000. This deed conveyed Lots 29 and 30.

(DBV 3643 P 625)

Nettie D. Lewis, widow, of the city of Pittsburgh to Anne Lewis Grosso, in consideration of natural love and affection. This deed was a conveyance from mother to daughter. This deed and all subsequent deeds conveyed Lots 28, 29 and 30.

(DBV 4670 P 748)

Anne Lewis Grosso, widow, of the city of Pittsburgh to Barbara A. Templeton and Robert M. Beck of the city of Pittsburgh, $16,000.

(DBV 5469 P 37)

Barbara A. and R.K. Templeton of the city of Pittsburgh and Robert M. Beck, unmarried, of New York, New York, to John R. Polyak, single, of the borough of Sewickley, $32,000.

(DBV 5761 P 91)

John R. Polyak, single, of Allegheny County to Stephen D. McWhorter of Allegheny County, $42,000.

(DBV 5863 P 759)

Stephen D. McWhorter of the state of California to Robert C. Knaus of Allegheny County, $68,500

(DBV 6086, P 119)

Age of the House

Available information indicates that Jacob F. Diffenbacher had 843 Beech Avenue built in 1892 or 1893, after buying a 22’6″ wide lot on Beech Avenue from members of the Denny family.

The March 1890 sale of a 22’6″ wide by 137’4.5″ deep lot for $5,625, at $1.82 per square foot, was comparable to other sales of undeveloped lots in Allegheny West and Manchester during the 1880’s and 1890’s and indicates that 843 Beech Avenue had not yet been built. The July 1892 sale of the 22’6″ wide lot and adjacent 1′ wide lot for $6500, at $2.01 per square foot, also indicates the house had not been built. Subsequently, the 1894 Pittsburgh city directory listed Jacob F. Diffenbacher at 78 Beech Avenue for the first time.

City of Allegheny building permit dockets, available beginning in 1894, contain no record of issuance of a permit to Jacob F. Diffenbacher for construction of a house on Beech Avenue.

Allegheny County mortgage records show that on March 11, 1890, Jacob F. Diffenbacher borrowed $3500 from Harmar D. Denny against the 22’6″ wide lot on Beech Avenue that Diffenbacher bought from Denny the same day. Allegheny County mortgage records contain no record of any loan to Diffenbacher for construction of 843 Beech Avenue.

Ida Leitch, who with her husband John participated in a transaction that placed 843 Beech Avenue in Susan Diffenbacher’s name in 1892, was a daughter of Jacob F. and Susan Diffenbacher.

The Home Today

Photos by Chris Siewers

Through the Years

Residents

The Diffenbachers

Pittsburgh city directories and U.S. census records provide information on Jacob F. Diffenbacher, who published the Pittsburgh city directory from the late 1870’s until his death in 1898, and his wife Susan.

Learn More

Other Early Occupants

The 1910 manuscript census reported that a family headed by Mary McGee lived at 843 Beech Avenue. Mary McGee, 74, had been born in Pennsylvania and was of Irish descent. The census recorded her occupation as “own income.” She was able to read and write, and owned her home fully.

Living with Mary McGee were her sister Emma, her nieces Rachel A. Good and Margaret Good, a lodger, James B. Jordan, and a servant, Cecelia Pottgiesen.

Emma McGee, 53, was single and had been born in Pennsylvania. Her occupation was also given as “own income.” Rachel A. Good, 41, and Margaret Good, 39, were both single and had no occupation. Both had been born in Pennsylvania.

James B. Jordan, 30, had been born in Ireland and immigrated to the United States in 1880. Jordan was single and attended school.

Cecelia Pottgiesen, 26, had been born in Pennsylvania to parents also born in Pennsylvania. The census indicated that she had not been unemployed during the previous year.

The 1910 manuscript census also reported that all residents of 843 Beech Avenue were able to read and write.

Supplementary Materials

The following materials accompany this report:

  • a copy of an 1872 plat map of part of Allegheny West, including Beech Avenue
  • a copy of a 1910 plat map of part of Allegheny West, including Beech Avenue
  • a copy of the title page of the 1894 Pittsburgh city directory, showing Jacob Diffenbacher as publisher of the directory
  • the obituary of Jacob Diffenbacher, from the April 2, 1898 Pittsburgh Press
  • an article featuring the home as part of the 1982 Christmas tour in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
  • an article featuring the home as part of the 1988 Christmas tour in the Pittsburgh Press

A Researched History
By: Carol J. Peterson

all photos by Chris Siewers, unless otherwise noted