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806 Western Ave, Pittsburgh, PA 15233

The Grahams

Robert and Martha Farrell Graham were born in Ireland, Robert in 1802 and Martha in 1799.

They were married and living in Pennsylvania by 1837, when their son William F. was born. Martha Jane “Mattie” Graham, their other child who is known today, was born in Pennsylvania in 1839. Although a 1919 obituary of Martha Jane Graham stated that she “was born in Lincoln avenue, old Allegheny,” North Lincoln Avenue was created in 1858, and known records do not document the family’s residence prior to 1850.

Pittsburgh city directories published before 1850 did not list Robert Graham, and the family was not enumerated in Allegheny County in the 1840 population census. The 1850 Pittsburgh directory contains the earliest known documentation of the family’s presence in the Pittsburgh area. The directory listed Robert Graham as manager of a rope walk (rope factory) and living in an un-numbered house on Western Avenue (then Water Lane) in the neighborhood now called Allegheny West.

After the rope walk closed, Pittsburgh directories listed Robert Graham as a salesman, superintendent, watchman, and laborer. His workplaces during that time are not known. Martha Graham bought an undeveloped lot on the former rope walk site in 1861, and she and Robert Graham had 840 North Lincoln Avenue built on the lot by 1863. The Grahams had a larger house built at 842 North Lincoln Avenue later in the 1860s and rented that house to tenants.

Martha Jane Graham became a public school teacher at age 18, in the late 1850s. After teaching in Allegheny City for a year, according to her obituary, she began a long career at the Grant School on Grant Street in Downtown Pittsburgh. She was a teacher until about 1879, when she became one of Pittsburgh’s first female principals. She held that position at the Grant School until she retired in 1912. As a female principal, Graham earned several hundred dollars per year, less than her male counterparts but more than female schoolteachers.

The 1870 census was the first census taken following the construction of 840 North Lincoln Avenue. Robert Graham was enumerated as a watchman at a car station and Martha Graham did not work outside the house. Martha Jane was recorded as having no occupation, although Pittsburgh directories document that she taught school. The census reported that Robert Graham owned real estate valued at $22,000, consistent with the size, location and brick construction of 840 and 842 North Lincoln Avenue, and had a personal estate of $10,000. Graham’s total assets of $32,000 were comparable to $1 million or more in the early 21st century.

Martha Graham died in 1879, at 80. At the time of the 1880 census, Robert Graham, 78 and retired, lived at 840 North Lincoln Avenue with Martha Jane Graham, 41, and his widowed sister Rebecca Toner, 60. A servant, Norah Mooney, also lived in the house. Mooney, 22, had immigrated from Ireland. Robert Graham died in 1883.

The Social Mirror, an 1888 book about prominent Pittsburgh women, reported that “Mattie Graham, the principal of the Grant School, is one of the phenomenally successful women. She is forcible and determined, yet full of a genial warmheartedness that wins her pupils’ love. Miss Graham is intellectual, well versed in ancient and modern literature- in short, keeps up with the times, a bright, smart, capable woman.”

Possibly to help make ends meet, in about 1887 Graham began to share her home at 840 North Lincoln Avenue with Jennie Ralston, an unmarried public school teacher, and William Ralston, who had no occupation. Jennie Ralston became principal of the Pittsburgh Normal School, a training school for teachers, in about 1890. William Ralston appears to have died or moved from the house in about 1895.

Martha J. Graham sold 840 North Lincoln Avenue in 1896, for $13,000. She and Jennie Ralston moved to Oakland, and over the next 23 years rented a series of apartments together in that neighborhood. Graham died on July 22, 1919, at 79, at St. Francis Hospital in Lawrenceville.

Kiehnel and Elliott

The architectural firm that designed the 1918 remodeling of 840 North Lincoln Avenue was a partnership of Richard Kiehnel of 910 Jancey Street, Morningside, and John B. Elliott of 212 Amber Street in East Liberty. In 1918, Kiehnel and Elliott had offices at 245 Fourth Avenue in Downtown Pittsburgh.

Kiehnel and Elliott practiced architecture between 1906 and about 1929 (the firm was known as Kiehnel, Elliott and Chalfant beginning in 1926). The firm was founded in Pittsburgh and designed a number of buildings, including dwellings, here. The firm began receiving, commissions in south Florida by the early 1910s and opened an office in Miami in 1922.

Kiehnel and Elliott took advantage of rapid development in south Florida in the 1910s and 1920s and prepared plans for a number of significant buildings there. At least several of the south Florida buildings that Kiehnel and Elliott designed have been listed on the National Register of Historic Places, in part for their architectural significance.

Other work in and near Pittsburgh by Kiehnel and Elliott included the design of:

  • New Castle High School, circa 1907
  • the First National Bank of Pitcairn, circa 1910
  • the Central Turnverein, Oakland, 1911-1912
  • the Stengel House, 4136 Bigelow Boulevard, Schenley Farms, 1913
  • a carriage house at 1203 Murray Hill Avenue, Squirrel Hill, 1915
  • Greenfield School, Greenfield, designed in 1916 and built 1922-1923
  • 745 South Linden Avenue, Point Breeze, 1917
  • additions and alterations to 5300 Fifth Avenue, Shadyside, 1917
  • 5757 Wilkins Avenue, Squirrel Hill, 1917-1918
  • 1035 North Highland Avenue, Highland Park, 1917-1918
  • 1315 Cordova Road, Highland Park, 1717-1918
  • an apartment building at Centre and Aiken avenues, Shadyside, 1926-1927
  • Baxter School, Baxter Street, Homewood, 1937 (National Register of Historic Places)

Work in Florida by Kiehnel and Elliott, or by Richard Kiehnel in his own practice after 1930, included:

  • the United States Post Office and Court House, 110 NE First Avenue, 1912-1914 (NRHP)
  • “El Jardin”, 3747 Main Highway, Coconut Grove, a mansion for John Bindley, president of the Pittsburgh Steel Products Company and the Duquesne National Bank, 1918 (NRHP)
  • Coral Gables Elementary School, 105 Menorca Drive, 1923-1926 (NRHP)
  • the Scottish Rite Masonic Temple, 1924
  • Coral Gables Congregational Church, 3010 DeSoto Boulevard, 1924 (NRHP)
  • the Coconut Grove Playhouse, 3500 Main Highway, Miami, 1926
  • houses in Miami Shores for the Shoreland Company, 1926-later (all NRHP)
    • 10108 NE First Avenue
    • 107 NE 96th Street
    • 121 NE 100th Street
    • 145 NE 95th Street
    • 257 NE 91st Street
    • 262 NE 96th Street
    • 273 NE 98th Street
    • 276 NE 98th Street
    • 310 NE 99th Street
    • 361 NE 97th Street
    • 384 NE 94th Street
    • 431 NE 94th Street
  • Miami Senior High School, 2450 SW First Street, 1927 (NRHP)
  • the Snell Arcade, St. Petersburg. 1928
  • the Riverside Methodist Church, Miami, 1938
  • the Surfside Park Homes, Miami, 1938-1941
  • buildings at Rollins College, Winter Park, 1930s-1941
    • Alumni House
    • the Annie Russell Theater
    • the Dyer Memorial Building
    • Fox Hall
    • Lucy Cross Hall
    • Strong Hall
    • Lyman Hall
    • Mayflower Hall
    • Pugsley Hall
    • Rollins Hall
    • the Student Center
  • the Second Church of Christ Scientist, Coconut Grove, 1940
  • the Concord Plaza Hotel, Miami, 1941
  • the President Madison Hotel, Miami Beach, 1941
  • a house at 3551 Main Highway, Coconut Grove, for Frank Semple of Pittsburgh

840 N Lincoln Avenue

840 N Lincoln Avenue (Front)

Introduction

Robert and Martha Graham had 840 North Lincoln Avenue built between 1861 and 1863.The house was constructed on a lot that Martha Graham had purchased for $450 in 1861. It was one of the first houses built on North Lincoln Avenue (originally Central Street) following the 1858 subdivision of land bounded by Ridge, Allegheny and Western avenues and Brighton Road.

The Grahams almost certainly had 840 North Lincoln Avenue built in the Italianate style, the most popular architectural style in southwestern Pennsylvania between the late 1850s and the 1880s. The architectural firm Kiehnel and Elliott designed a 1918 remodeling with elements of the Mission and Spanish Eclectic styles. Kiehnel and Elliott designed a number of significant buildings in Pittsburgh and southern Florida between 1906 and 1930, and several examples of the firm’s work are listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

The 1858 subdivision of the Irwin rope walk property created the lot on which 840 North Lincoln Avenue stands, and the street itself. The Irwin family operated a rope walk, or factory, between 1813 and 1858. Robert Graham managed the rope walk for the Irwins in the 1850s, and possibly earlier. While living at 840 North Lincoln Avenue, Graham worked as a salesman, superintendent, watchman, and laborer.

Martha Jane “Mattie” Graham, a daughter of Robert and Martha, lived in the house for years after her parents’ deaths. She was prominent in her own right as one of the first female public school principals in Pittsburgh, serving in that position at the Grant School on Grant Street, Downtown between about 1879 and 1912. When she died in 1919, Pittsburgh newspapers noted that the banker Andrew Mellon was among her former students, and Andrew Carnegie was a friend.

Harry and Margaret Teufel bought 840 North Lincoln Avenue in 1917, and had the house remodeled the following year. Harry Teufel was then a Pittsburgh Gage & Supply Company salesman, and had previously operated hotels in Pittsburgh, Allegheny City and Beaver Falls. He and Margaret Teufel had no children, and the 1920 census found them living at 840 North Lincoln Avenue with a lodger named Margaret Thomas. The Teufels sold the house later in 1920, for $13,000.
The former Graham house at 840 North Lincoln Avenue has now had a total of 19 owners.

Detailed information on the history of the house is contained in the following report.

Ownership

  • March 17, 1790
  • November 2, 1813
  • March 9, 1816
  • October 14, 1861
  • February 21, 1879
  • June 17, 1896
  • December 31, 1901
  • April 8, 1916
  • April 18, 1916
  • July 7. 1916
  • December 12, 1917
  • December 12, 1917
  • May 1, 1920
  • February 6, 1946
  • February 9, 1946
  • December 9, 1952
  • December 20, 1952
  • May 27, 1953
  • August 18, 1958
  • September 27, 1961
  • February 24, 1982
  • March 14, 1988
  • September 22, 1999
  • December 28, 2004
  • June 8, 2007

Charles Wilkins, merchant, of the town of Pittsburgh conveyed property that included the site of 840 North Lincoln Avenue to John Irwin, esquire, of the town of Pittsburgh for £30. This deed conveyed Out Lot 276 in the Reserve Tract Opposite Pittsburgh and Lot 69 in the town of Allegheny. Out Lot 276 was a ten-acre tract of land situated on the western side of land laid out for a common and bounded by what are now Brighton Road and Ridge, Galveston and Western avenues. Lot 69 in the town of Allegheny was a 60’ wide by 240’ deep lot at the corner of East Ohio and Sandusky streets.

John Irwin died intestate. He was survived by his widow, Mary, and four children: Margaret, John, William F. and Elizabeth.

(Deed Book Volume 2, Page 97)

William F. Irwin of the borough of Pittsburgh, one of the sons and heirs of John Irwin, rope maker, conveyed Out Lots 276, 263 and 268 in the Reserve Tract Opposite Pittsburgh, containing ten acres each, and property on Liberty Avenue in Pittsburgh to John Irwin of the borough of Pittsburgh for $1772.

(DBV 19 P 127)

John, Elizabeth, and Margaret Irwin, all of Allegheny town, amicably partitioned property that had belonged to John Irwin, deceased. John Irwin received title to Out Lot 276 in the Reserve Tract Opposite Pittsburgh, and other property.

(Deed Book 22: 189)

John and Abigail Irwin of Allegheny County conveyed a lot that contained the present site of 840 North Lincoln Avenue to Martha Graham of Allegheny City for S450. The lot measured 24’ wide by 140’9-5/8” deep, and was known as Lot 51 in a plan of lots laid out by John Irwin

(DBV 151 P 437) (Plan Book Volume 2, Page 173)

Martha Graham died on February 21, 1879. In her will, dated January 16, 1879, she left 840 North Lincoln Avenue to her husband, Robert Graham, during his life, with title to pass at his death to her son, William F. Graham, and daughter, Martha Jane Graham. Robert Graham died on December 31, 1883. William F. Graham died on June 24, 1889, survived by his widow, Mary E. Graham, and one child, Bessie Graham.

(Will Book Volume 22, Page 52)

Martha Jane Graham, Bessie Graham and Mary E. Graham, all of Allegheny City, conveyed 840 North Lincoln Avenue to B.F. Jones of Allegheny City for $13,000.

(DBV 943 P 180)

Benjamin F. and Mary McMasters Jones of Allegheny City conveyed 840 North Lincoln Avenue to Elizabeth M. Horne of Pittsburgh for $1.
(DBV 1154 P 371)

Elizabeth M. Horne of Sewickley Heights conveyed 840 and 838 North Lincoln Avenue to Richard E. McClure of Pittsburgh for $1 and other considerations (tax stamps suggest a price of $10,000).

(DBV 1850 P 412)

Richard E. McClure of Pittsburgh conveyed 840 and 838 North Lincoln Avenue to Thomas H. Hasson of Pittsburgh for $1 and other considerations (tax stamps suggest a price of $7,500).

(Deed Book 1850: 411)

Thomas H. and Amelia S. Hasson of Pittsburgh conveyed 840 North Lincoln Avenue to Bernard B. McGinnis of Pittsburgh for $4,800. This conveyance was subject to two unrecorded May 1, 1916 agreements between Thomas H. Hasson and T.C. Hill: (1) that the lavatory built on the house at 838 North Lincoln Avenue, which encroached upon the lot at 840 North Lincoln Avenue, was to be removed by the said T.C. Hill within 30 days written notice to do so, the material therein and the contents thereof to be the property of the said T.C. Hill; and (2) that the bath room attached to the property at 840 North Lincoln Avenue, which was attached to and encroached upon the wall of 838 North Lincoln Avenue, was to be removed at the expense of Hasson any time upon 30 days written notice from T.C. Hill to do so.

(DBV 1865 P 192)

Bernard B. McGinnis of Pittsburgh conveyed 840 North Lincoln Avenue to Frank X. Behen of Penn Township for $5,000. This deed and subsequent deeds conveyed the lot on which the house now stands, consisting of Lot 51 in the Irwin plan excepting a narrow triangular strip of ground that Bernard B. McGinnis had conveyed to Martha Jane Graham, then owner of the property at 842 North Lincoln Avenue. The strip of ground was described as beginning at a point 12’6” north of North Lincoln Avenue at the line dividing Lots 50 and 51 in the John Irwin plan of lots and running northwest 69.5’, southwest 7.375”, and southeast 69.5’ to the place of beginning.

(DBV 1923 P 13) (DBV 1890 P 72)

Frank X. and Mary S. Behen of Penn Township conveyed 840 North Lincoln Avenue to Harry P. Teufel of Pittsburgh for $6,500.

(DBV 1923 P 11)

Harry P. and Margaret I. Teufel of Pittsburgh conveyed 840 North Lincoln Avenue to William C. McNamara of Pittsburgh for $13,000.

(DBV 1992 P 614)

William C. and Mary McNamara of Pittsburgh conveyed 840 North Lincoln Avenue to Margaret P. McNamara of Pittsburgh in consideration of $1 and love and affection.

(DBV 2873 P 349)

Margaret P. McNamara of Pittsburgh conveyed 840 North Lincoln Avenue to William C. and Mary McNamara of Pittsburgh for $1 and other considerations.

(DBV 2879 P 222)

Title to 840 North Lincoln Avenue was placed in the names of Mary McNamara, Margaret P. Neuberger and Kathryn M. Mitchell.

(DBV 3369 P 385)

Mary McNamara died on December 20, 1952. Her sole heirs were her two daughters, Kathryn M. Mitchell and Margaret P. Neuberger.

L. Clair and Kathryn M. Mitchell of Mt. Lebanon and Margaret P. and Raymond F. Neuberger of Pittsburgh conveyed 840 North Lincoln Avenue to Kamel and Zahwa Shaheen of Pittsburgh for $11,000.

(DBV 3254 P 397)

Kamel and Zahwa Shaheen of Pittsburgh conveyed 840 North Lincoln Avenue to Walter D. and Anna Belle Shelton of Pittsburgh for $11,000.

(DBV 3705 P 633)

Walter D. and Anna Belle Shelton of Pittsburgh conveyed 840 North Lincoln Avenue to Marion Thomas of Pittsburgh for $12,000.

(DBV 3918 P 473)

The estate of Marion Thomas conveyed 840 North Lincoln Avenue and 838 North Lincoln Avenue to Philip W. Thomas, her son

(DBV 6446 P 423)

Philip W. Thomas of Allegheny County conveyed 840 North Lincoln Avenue to Michael R. Bozzone of Allegheny County for $38,000.

(DBV 7744 P 471)

Michael R. and Natalie M. Bozzone conveyed 840 North Lincoln Avenue to John Bartholomew Holt for $133,000.

(DBV 10590 P 584)

John Bartholomew Holt conveyed 840 North Lincoln Avenue to Cory D. and Kari J. Reslerfor $209,900.

(DBV 12315 P 339)

Douglas Debelak and Debra E. Kelly purchased 840 North Lincoln Avenue from Cory D. and Kari J. Resler on June 8, 2007.

(DBV 13270 P 573)

Age of the House

Local historical records indicate that Robert and Martha Graham had 840 North Lincoln Avenue built between 1862 and 1863. Harry P. and Margaret Teufel had the house remodeled with elements of the Mission and Spanish Eclectic styles in 1918.

Construction

Martha Graham purchased the lot on which 840 North Lincoln Avenue stands on October 14, 1861. Graham paid $450 for the lot, measuring 24’ wide by 140’9-5/8” deep. This purchase, at 13 cents per square foot, was comparable to prices paid for other undeveloped lots in lower Allegheny City at the time.

An 1862 map depicting building coverage in Allegheny City and Pittsburgh does not show any buildings on North Lincoln Avenue. The 1863 and 1864 Pittsburgh city directories listed Robert Graham, Martha Graham’s husband, as living in an un-numbered house on Central Street (now North Lincoln Avenue) near Tremont (now Galveston) Street for the first time.
Following the assignment of house numbers in the area, the 1867 city directory listed Robert Graham at 67 Lincoln Avenue (now 840 North Lincoln Avenue) for the first time. An 1872 plat map confirms that the house had been built.

Allegheny County mortgage records contain no record of any loan that could have been used to finance construction of 840 North Lincoln Avenue.

Remodeling in 1918

Harry P. Teufel purchased 840 North Lincoln Avenue on December 12, 1917, paying $6,500. The Builders’ Bulletin, a weekly Pittsburgh construction industry magazine, reported in its issue of April 3, 1918, that Teufel had hired J.A. Cornelius for work at 840 North Lincoln Avenue that had been designed by the Pittsburgh architectural firm Kiehnel and Elliott.
Harry P. and Margaret Teufel sold 840 North Lincoln Avenue for $13,000 on May 1, 1920. The increase in property value is consistent with significant exterior and interior remodeling having taken place since the 1917 sale.

The Architects: Kiehnel and Elliott

The architectural firm that designed the 1918 remodeling of 840 North Lincoln Avenue was a partnership of Richard Kiehnel of 910 Jancey Street, Morningside, and John B. Elliott of 212 Amber Street in East Liberty. In 1918, Kiehnel and Elliott had offices at 245 Fourth Avenue in Downtown Pittsburgh.

Learn More

Architectural Style

The 1918 remodeling of 840 North Lincoln Avenue combined elements of the Mission style and the Spanish Eclectic style. Some of the remodeling features, such as the house’s stucco cladding and tile roof, were used with both architectural styles. The large square porch supports are components of the Mission style, and the round-arched openings between the supports are Spanish Eclectic components. The remodeled eaves, with wide overhangs, are typical of Mission homes but not those built in the Spanish Eclectic style. Although the house has some Mission features, it lacks the distinctive curved parapet with which nearly all houses in the style were built.

The Mission and Spanish Eclectic styles were both popular at the time that 840 North Lincoln Avenue was remodeled. A Field Guide to American Houses by Virginia and Lee McAlester (1992) states that the Mission style was popular between about 1890 and 1920, and the Spanish Eclectic style was in use between about 1915 and 1940.

The form of 840 North Lincoln Avenue and the house’s original construction in the 1860s indicate that the house was almost certainly built in the ltalianate style, the most popular architectural in the Pittsburgh area between the late 1850s and the mid-1880s. .
In urban neighborhoods like Allegheny West, where high land costs encouraged construction of houses of about 20’ or less in width, ltalianate house exteriors were characterized primarily by side-gabled roofs, arched door and window openings, prominent or projecting door and window hoods, and decorative brackets beneath box gutters.

ltalianate interiors often included flared newel posts and spindles, marble or wood mantels with arched openings, four-panel doors with porcelain knobs and ornamented cast iron hinges, and non-symmetrical door and window trim. In the Pittsburgh area, many ltalianate houses were built with stairways that incorporated landings located about three steps below the main level of the second floor. Most local ltalianate houses also featured two-over-two double-hung windows, although some later or larger examples were constructed with one-over-one double-hung windows.

Street Name and Numbering

The house at 840 North Lincoln Avenue was originally an unnumbered house on Central Street. The street was renamed Lincoln Avenue within about a year after President Abraham Lincoln was assassinated in 1865, and house numbers were assigned on the street in 1866 or 1867. The house was re-numbered 840 when the Northside’s modern street numbering system was put in place in 1899.

Lincoln Avenue became Lynndale Avenue in about 1909, when Pittsburgh city government changed a number of street named to avoid duplication that resulted from Pittsburgh’s 1907 annexation of Allegheny City (now the Northside). The street was renamed North Lincoln Avenue in about 1913.

The Home Today

Photos by Chris Siewers

Residents

The Grahams

Pittsburgh city directories, U.S. census records, an obituary, a will, and other sources provide information on Robert and Martha Graham, the first owners of 840 North Lincoln Avenue, and their daughter, Martha Jane Graham, who owned and lived in the house until 1896.

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The Teufels

The Teufels’ purchase and remodeling of 840 North Lincoln Avenue represented a considerable investment within a short time, and suggests that the couple did well financially in the second half of the 1920s.

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Occupants, 1897-1917

Occupants of 840 North Lincoln Avenue between 1896 and 1899 are unknown. Members of the Gregg family rented the house between 1900 and 1915.

The 1900 census enumerated William P. Gregg as the head of the household at 840 North Lincoln Avenue. Gregg, 55, was unmarried and had been born in Pennsylvania to Irish immigrants. The census recorded Gregg with no occupation; some Pittsburgh directories listed him as a hatter, a hat salesman, or as a clerk.

Other members of Gregg’s household in 1900 were:

  • his sister, Anna Gregg Roberts, 45, who was living apart from her husband; she had no occupation
  • Mary C. Roberts, 15, the only child of Anna Gregg Roberts
  • Martha Gregg Atwell, 59, a sister of William and Anna, and the widow of Charles Atwell

Mary C. Roberts began working as a public school teacher during the first decade of the new century. James P. Gregg, a Bureau of Health clerk and a brother of William P. Gregg, moved to the house by 1910.

The 1917 Pittsburgh directory listed Florence Place, a teacher at Latimer Junior High School at Tripoli and James Streets in Deutschtown, as living at 840 North Lincoln Avenue. James Place, a laborer, and Lula Place, with no occupation, also lived in the house.

The 1930 Census

The 1930 census enumerated William C. and Mary McNamara and their children living at 840 North Lincoln Avenue. William C. McNamara, 51, was a clerk in the Pittsburgh Stock Exchange. He had been born in Pennsylvania, like his parents; Mary McNamara had been born in Pennsylvania to German immigrants.

In 1930, the McNamaras had been married for 11 years. They had two children: Catherine, ten, and Patrick, nine.
Records of the 1930 census also show that 840 North Lincoln Avenue had an estimated value of $13,000, and that the McNamara family owned a “radio set”.

The 1930 census is the last census that provides information on residents of 840 North Lincoln Avenue. Manuscript census records are withheld from public view for 72 years, to protect the privacy of persons who were enumerated.

Neighborhood Development

During and immediately after the Civil War, following the 1858 subdivision of the rope walk property, North Lincoln Avenue developed as a mixture of middle-class housing and mansions. The new Allegheny West neighborhood became a desirable alternative to older sections of Allegheny City like the East and South Commons and lower Federal Street, which contained residential, commercial and industrial land uses. Many of the original residents of the mansions and middle-class houses that line North Lincoln Avenue were merchants and manufacturers who previously lived in Downtown Pittsburgh or older sections of Allegheny City.

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Rope Walk

840 North Lincoln Avenue occupies part of the site of a rope walk, or factory, that was operated by members of the Irwin family until 1858.

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Supplementary Materials

The following materials accompany this report:

Maps

  • a copy of part of an 1872 plat map of the Second Ward of Allegheny City
  • copies of parts of fire insurance maps of the area around 840 North Lincoln Avenue, published in 1884, 1893, 1906 and 1926

Graham

  • a copy of the will of Martha Graham (Allegheny County Will Book Volume 22, Page 52)
  • information on Martha Jane Graham, from The Social Mirror (1888)
  • the obituary of Martha Jane Graham, from the Pittsburgh Gazette Times, July 23, 1919

Teufel


A Researched History
By: Carol J. Peterson

all photos by Chris Siewers, unless otherwise noted

The Watsons

Mark Walton Watson was born in Massilon. Ohio, in April 1828. His parents were born in Pennsylvania. Known records do not provide additional information on Watson’s parents or on his childhood.

Watson lived in Massilon until 1852, when he moved to Pittsburgh at age 24. Watson became a partner in William McCully & Company, a Pittsburgh glass manufacturing firm. Although Watson’s 1909 obituary stated that he joined McCully & Company in 1858, it should be noted that the 1856 Pittsburgh directory listed Watson as a partner in the firm. McCully & Company’s offices were then located on Wood Street between the present Boulevard of the Allies and Fort Pitt Boulevard.

In 1856, Mark W. Watson had been married for about three years to Margaret A. McCully, the daughter of the senior partner of his firm. The Watson family then lived at 154 Second Avenue in Downtown Pittsburgh, near the offices of McCully & Company. By 1860, the family moved to Penn Avenue, Downtown, on the present site of Gateway Center. The family’s immediate neighborhood was then home to a number of wealthy manufacturers and merchants and was one of the most prestigious residential communities in the Pittsburgh area.

The 1860 census enumerated the Watson family in their home on Penn Avenue. Mark W. Watson, 32, was enumerated as a glass manufacturer and Margaret A. Watson, 29, had no occupation. The couple had three children: Martha, six, John, three, and Joseph H. one. The family’s status was evidenced by the four household staff persons who lived in their home: Mary F. Walker, 21, a cook; Mary Abermele, 18, a housemaid; Susan M. Campbell, 18, a housemaid and William Genwig, 19, a coachman.

Joseph H. Watson appears to have died during the 1860’s.

Mark W. Watson, according to his obituary, was active as a volunteer during the Civil War. Watson aided in the shipment of supplies to the Union army and in the construction of fortifications around sites in Pittsburgh which were considered vulnerable to attack.

Margaret A. Watson died in 1860 or 1861. In 1861 or 1862, Mark W. Watson was remarried to Harriet Marshall of Stockton Avenue, Allegheny City. Marshall, born in Pennsylvania in May 1845, was a daughter of James Marshall, the owner of a foundry at Wood Street and Liberty Avenue, Downtown, and president of the Farmers Deposit National Bank. Harriet Marshall Watson began living with the Watson family in their home on Penn Avenue. She and Mark W. Watson had four children. Mary, born in 1867, Harriet in 1869, Julia in 1872, and Amy in 1880.

Mark W. Watson became a member of the board of the Exchange National Bank of Pittsburgh by the late 1860’s. Watson later served as vice-president and president of the bank.

In 1870, according to census records, Mark W. Watson owned real estate valued ai $50,000 and had a personal estate of $100,000. Four household staff persons lived in the Watson home: Maria Lovitt, 19 and Mary Palmer, 24, both servants; William Brooks, 30, a coachman and Mary Baldwin, 47, a nurse.

The Watson family lived on Penn Avenue until 1875, when Mark W.Watson purchased 835 North Lincoln Avenue from John and Eleanor Frazier. The 1876 Pittsburgh directory shows that the Watson family had moved into 835 North Lincoln Avenue (then 68 Lincoln Avenue).

The 1880 census was the first census taken after the Watson family moved to 835 North Lincoln Avenue. Mark W. Watson, 52, was enumerated as a glass merchant, and Harriet Watson, 35, had no occupation. Six of Mark W. Watson’s children lived at 835 North Lincoln Avenue: Margaret, 25, John, 23, listed as a glass merchant, Mary, 13, Harriet, 11, Julia, eight, and Amy, six.

In 1880. five servants lived at 835 North Lincoln Avenue:

  • William Writ, 23, an African-American servant who had been born in Ohio
  • Timothy Brown, an Alrican-American driver, born in Pennsylvania
  • Mary Mason, 40, a nurse and Welsh immigrant
  • Mary Peterson, 28, an African-American chambermaid, born in Virginia
  • Ellen Thomas, 27, an African-American cook, born in Maryland

In the early 1880’s, Mark W. Watson was still a partner in McCully & Company. He became president of the Exchange National Bank around that time, while continuing his role with McCully amp; Company. Watson, like many other manufacturers with capital to invest, began to expand his business activities to include investment in various local manufacturing and transportation concerns.

He may have already joined the board of the Pittsburgh & Lake Erie Railroad, organized in the 1870’s. By the turn of the century, Watson also served on the boards of the Pittsburgh. McKeesport & Youghiogheny Railroad, the Standard Underground Cable Company and the Monongahcla Water Company. He eventually became president of the latter two companies.

Records of the 1890 manuscript census, which would provide information on the Watson family and any other residents of 835 North Lincoln Avenue in that year, were destroyed in a warehouse fire following the completion of the census.

Julia M. Watson, the seeond-youngest child of Mark W. and Harriet Watson, was married on October 11, 1893. Her bridegroom was Bernard S. Horne, a son of department store owner Joseph Horne. In its Society column, the Pittsburgh Press provided a detailed account of the Watson’s iconic wedding and reception, both held “at the residence of the parents of the popular little maiden.” The Press report included descriptions of the interior of 835 North Lincoln Avenue:

the shower of blossoms that in honor of this happy day has transformed the rich, dark rooms of the Watson house into a veritable bower of floral beauty..

[The dining room] is a mahogany room where in the polished wood arc inserted immense cabinets of the same glistening with silver and china. Above finishing the wall to the ceiling is a stamped Tyme castle tapestry…
T
he stairway is close at hand, winding down from a great window above…

At the time of the 1900 census, five members of the Watson family lived at 835 North Lincoln Avenue: Mark W. Watson. 72, enumerated as a banker, Harriet, 55, Amy, 20, Julia Watson Horne, 28, who was living apart from her husband and Mark Horne, three, a son of Julia Watson Horne.

Five household staff persons lived at 835 North Lincoln Avenue in 1900:

  • Mary Keeley, 26, a maid who had been born in New York and was of Irish descent
  • Delia Keeley, 30, a seamstress born in Virginia to Irish immigrant parents
  • Henrietta Brunett, 30, an African-American cook who had been born in Virginia
  • Anna Alless, 24, a nurse born in Ohio
  • Maggie Gibbons, 23, a laundress who had been born in West Virginia to Irish immigrant parents

Harriet Watson died on May 23, 1906 at age 61.

Mark W. Watson remained president of William McCully & Company through 1905 or later. Watson still served as president of the Exchange National Bank, the Standard Underground Cable Company and the Monongahela Water Company when he died on June 1, 1909. He was 81 years old.

Available records do not indicate that any members of the Watson family lived at 835 North Lincoln Avenue after the death of Mark W. Watson. The 1910 census did not enumerate anyone in the house, indicating that it was vacant. Pittsburgh city directories published during the 1910’s did not list any of the Watson children as living in the house. By 1920, the house, still owned by the Watson family, contained at least seven apartments. Heirs of Mark W. Watson sold 835 North Lincoln Avenue in 1925.

The Fraziers

John Frazier was born in Pennsylvania in about 1826. Frazier’s father was an Irish immigrant, and his mother was born in Pennsylvania. It is possible that Frazier was born and raised in Butler County, where his wife was raised, or in the Jefferson County, Pennsylvania area, where Frazier and other family members later owned a planing mill. Available records, however, do not identify Frazier’s birthplace.

John Frazier and his wife, Eleanor, were married in or before the early 1850’s. The couple had two children who lived long enough to be enumerated in decennial censuses: Elizabeth, born in 1854, and Ella J., born in 1859.

Eleanor Frazier was born in Portersville, Butler County, in about 1827. She was one of at least six children of Dr. John and Elizabeth Cowden, both Pennsylvania natives.

The Frazier family began living in Pittsburgh by 1856, when John Frazier was listed in the city directory as a carpenter living on Ohio Lane (now Western Avenue) in Manchester. By 1860, John Frazier and one of his brothers founded the firm of John & George Frazier, carpenters, located on an alley near Fulton Street in Manchester.

The 1860 census enumerated the Frazier family at their home on Western Avenue. John Frazier, 34, was enumerated as a master carpenter, and Eleanor Frazier, 33, had no occupation. The couple’s children were Elizabeth, six years, and Ella J., six months.

In 1860, according to census records, John Frazier owned real estate worth $10,173 and had a personal estate of $2,000 At that time, before Civil War-era inflation doubled the value of real estate in Pittsburgh, a typical brick house of eight rooms on a full lot in Frazier’s neighborhood was worth about $3,000.

John Frazier and his brothers, George of Western Avenue and William of North Lincoln Avenue, founded the firm of Frazier Brothers in about 1865. The firm was initially located at the corner of Pitt and Strawberry Alleys in Allegheny City (on the present site ot Divine Providence Hospital). In 1866, Frazier Brothers moved to the corner of Western Avenue and Sedgwick Street in Manchester, where it opened a lumber yard. Frazier Brothers also operated saw mills along the Clarion River near Brookville, Jefferson County, Pennsylvania.

In 1869, Frazier Brothers purchased the lumber yard of another firm on Gas Alley in or near Allegheny West. The lumber yard was destroyed by fire a short time after Frazier Brothers took title to the property. Within a short time, Frazier Brothers moved to Market Street in Manchester (now Metropolitan Street; between Route 65 and the Ohio River).

Frazier Brothers appears to have been well-positioned to take advantage of the thriving post-Civil War economy. The firm constructed houses that were commissioned by Allegheny City homeowners, built other houses as speculative ventures, engaged in lumber sales and land speculation and also constructed landmark homes in Allegheny West and Manchester for its three principals.

Homes built by Frazier Brothers included:

  • 824-830 Beech Avenue, Allegheny West, built between 1870 and 1872
  • 1130-34 Sheffield Street, Manchester, built before 1872
  • a row of 10 houses on Bidwell Street between Decatur and North Franklin Streets, Manchester built before 1872
  • 835 North Lincoln Avenue, the home of John Frazier, built between 1864 and 1867
  • 1400 Pennsylvania Avenue, Manchester, the home of George Frazier, built 1872-73
  • 1414 Pennsylvania Avenue, Manchester, the home of William Frazier, built 1875-1876

Two streets in Manchester were apparently named for Frazier Brothers. An 1872 plat map of Manchester shows that Fontella Street was known as Frazier Street and that Decatur Street was known as Fraziers Alley.

John Frazier’s construction of 835 North Lincoln Avenue, a larger house than most contractors in the Pittsburgh area occupied during the nineteenth century, documents the success of Frazier Brothers during the post-Civil War era. Some years later, in 1886, Pennsylvania Historical Review reported that the firm operated a factory and lumberyard, had 100 full-time employees and was “one of the most active and most extensive [contracting and lumber firms] in this region.”

The Frazier family began living at 835 North Lincoln Avenue by 1867. Dr. John and Elizabeth Cowden, the parents of Eleanor Frazier, began living in the house with the Fraziers in or shortly before 1870.

The 1870 census was the first census taken following construction of 835 North Lincoln Avenue. Census records show that the Frazier home was occupied by six family members: John Frazier, 44, enumerated as a lumber merchant; Eleanor, 43, with no occupation; Ella J., 11; William Frazier, 30, a partner in Frazier Brothers and enumerated as a lumber merchant; and Dr. John and Elizabeth Cowden, both 74.

Three unrelated persons lived with the Frazier family at 835 North Lincoln Avenue in 1870. Amanda McKain, 19 and Betsy Grant, 18, both servants, and Henry Brown, 17, with no recorded occupation.

The 1870 manuscript census, the last census to provide information on assets of persons enumerated, reported that John Frazier owned real estate valued at $120,000 and had a personal estate of $20,000.

The Fraziers and Cowdens lived at 835 North Lincoln Avenue through 1875. In that year, John and Eleanor Frazier sold the house for $48,000 and moved to a house on Sheffield Street in Manchester. Available records do not indicate why the Fraziers sold 835 North Lincoln Avenue. It is possible that the decision to sell the house was associated with an economic depression that diminished home construction between 1873 and 1877.

John Frazier and his family moved from Sheffield Street to West North Avenue in Manchester (then Fayette Street) during the 1880’s. Frazier remained partner in Frazier Brothers until he retired toward the end of that decade.
John Frazier lived on West North Avenue until he died on December 1, 1895 Available records do not indicate when Eleanor Frazier died.

Neighborhood Development

During and immediately alter the Civil War, following the 1858 subdivision of the former Rope Walk property, the new Allegheny West neighborhood became 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 1870. Most of the original residents of the mansions and middle-class houses that line North Lincoln Avenue were manufacturers and merchants who previously lived in Downtown Pittsburgh or older sections of Allegheny City.

As Allegheny West developed. North Lincoln Avenue came to include a mixture of mansions and middle-class housing. Simultaneously, some of the region’s wealthiest families constructed mansions on Ridge Avenue and Brighton Road, most homes on Beech and Galveston Avenues were built for middle-class families, and Western Avenue developed as an unlikely mixture of mansions, homes of middle-class and working-class families and small industrial sites.

Between the late 1860’s and early 1880’s, most homes that were built on 25′ wide lots on Western, North Lincoln and Beech Avenue were worth between $11,000 and $13,000. Larger Allegheny West homes occupying double lots were worth $20,000 or more. An example is a home at 940 North Lincoln Avenue, which was sold for $20,000 in 1871. Smaller brick homes of six rooms on full single lots – prevalent in the Mexican War Streets, Lawrenceville and South Side neighborhoods – were worth $4,500 to $6,500.

Properly values in Allegheny West and Manchester climbed steadily during the l870’s and 1850’s, with remaining undeveloped lots selling for about $1.60 to $1.80 per square foot by the late l880’s. Before the introduction of electric streetcar lines in about 1890, the majority of middle-class families – who could not afford carriages and drivers – lived within a walking distance of employment sites. Some household heads commuted by horsecar or cable car, which were more affordable than private transportation but costlier than the electric streetcars of a few years later.

In about 1890, “streetcar suburbs” such as Friendship and Shadyside in Pittsburgh’s East End began to develop after introduction of electric streetcars. Offered the opportunity to purchase lots with 30′ to 50′ frontage for 40 to 60 cents per square foot, in neighborhoods that were further from industry, many middle-class residents of Allegheny West and Manchester moved to these neighborhoods within the next decade.

By 1900, Allegheny West property values fell, and about half of the middle-class houses on Western, North Lincoln and Beech Avenues were rented as single-family dwellings to families who were not quite as well-off as their predecessors. Allegheny West’s wealthier residents remained in their homes longer than their middle-class neighbors, possibly because they were able to escape to summer homes near Sewickley.

By the early 1920’s, when almost all of the millionaire residents of Brighton Road and Ridge Avenue fled to the Sewickley area, most of the formerly middle-class homes on Western, North Lincoln and Beech Avenues were either divided into apartments or used as rooming houses.

John Irwin & The Rope Walk

John Irwin founded the first rope walk in western Pennsylvania in 1794 on a site near Smithficld Street and the Monongahela River in Pittsburgh. Irwin, who had been wounded in a Revolutionary W ar battle, left the management of the rope walk to his wife, Mary and son, John.

After the elder Irwin’s death in 1808, at age 50, the younger John Irwin purchased his mother’s share in the business and assumed responsibility for its operation.

The younger John Irwin moved the rope walk to Allegheny City in 1813. The rope walk originally occupied a site bounded by what are now Brighton Road, Ridge Avenue, Galveston Avenue and Western Avenue. The site occupied Out Lot 276 in the Reserve Tract Opposite Pittsburgh.

The younger John Irwin brought his son, Henry into the business in 1835, and renamed the business John Irwin & Son. In 1847, John Irwin Jr. (actually the third John Irwin) joined the business, which became known as John Irwin & Sons.

At some point between 1835 and 1847, the rope walk expanded westward onto Out Lot 275 to a point 100′ east of Allegheny Avenue, by leasing land owned by Harmar and Elizabeth F. Denny. In 1847, the Irwins purchased the land they had leased from the Dennys.

An 1852 map shows that the rope walk’s main building was located at what is now the eastern end of North Lincoln Avenue, facing Brighton Road.

The rope walk site contained a small number of homes on Western Avenue that may have housed rope walk employees. Structures that apparently remain from the time of the rope walk are two vernacular Greek Revival style double houses at 831-833 Western Avenue and 843-845 Western Avenue and another building at 903-905 Western Avenue, now known as Allegheny Court.

Pittsburgh city directories of the 1850’s show that Robert Graham of Water Lane (now Western Avenue) managed the rope walk. Graham later built and lived at 840 North Lincoln Avenue (then 67 Lincoln Avenue). Graham also built a house at 842 North Lincoln Avenue (65 Lincoln Avenue) that he rented to tenants.

The rope walk ceased operation in 1858. Subsequently, the younger John Irwin subdivided the rope walk site and sold it as building lots on Ridge, North Lincoln, Western and Galveston Avenues. Irwin lived on Irwin Avenue (now Brighton Road) until about 1859, when he moved to Sewickley.

Henry Irwin, apparently a son of John Irwin, was a salt manufacturer and president of the Manchester Railway Company. He continued to live on Irwin Avenue after John Irwin moved to Sewickley. During the 1870’s, a son, Hemy Jr., became a partner in Irwin & Company, a coal company on Galveston Avenue near the Ohio River. Lewis Irwin, another son, became a partner in Holdship & Irwin, an oil firm, and rented a house at 824 Beech Avenue in the 1880’s.

Lewis Irwin helped change the architectural appearance of Allegheny West in 1887, when he commissioned the firm of Longfellow, Alden & Harlow to design a new residence for him at the southwestern comer of Western Avenue and Brighton Road. The house, with some similarity to Sunnyledge at Fifth and Wilkins Avenues in Squirrel Hill, was dramatically different from nearby homes built in more traditional styles. Irwin also had Longfellow, Alden & Harlow design a double house at the southeastern comer of Western Avenue and Rope Way. The Irwin houses were among the earliest of several Longfellow, Alden & Harlow houses in Allegheny West; those which remain include the Pontefract mansion on North Lincoln Avenue west of Allegheny Avenue, the house at 838 North Lincoln Avenue and the Rosenbach house at 836 Western Avenue.

Members of the Irwin family lived on the former rope walk site until about 1920. Lewis Irwin appears to have been the last family member to live there. After he and other family members relocated to Sewickley, the former Irwin houses were used as apartments and rooming houses. The houses were demolished in the 1950’s.

835 N Lincoln Avenue

Under Renovation in 2018

Under Renovation in 2018

Introduction

John Frazier, a partner in a prominent Allegheny City contracting firm, constructed 835 North Lincoln Avenue between 1864 and 1867. Frazier built the house on a lot that he had purchased for $3,200 in 1864. The lot was part of a subdivision of the Rope Walk, a rope manufacturing facility that occupied the site between 1813 and 1858.

John Frazier, born in Pennsylvania in about 1826, was a partner in Frazier Brothers while he lived at 835 North Lincoln Avenue. Frazier Brothers, located in Manchester, was one of the most active contracting firms in western Allegheny City during the last third of the twentieth century. In addition to building houses for homeowners and speculatively, the firm also speculated in and subdivided land and operated a lumber yard and a planing mill. Its other two principals constructed landmark homes that still stand on Pennsylvania Avenue in Manchester.

John Frazier and his family lived-at 835 North Lincoln Avenue through 1875. Residents of the house during that time included Frazier, his wife, Eleanor, their two daughters, and Dr. John and Elizabeth Cowden, parents of Eleanor Frazier. The family also employed two servants, Amanda iVlcKain and Betsy Grant, who lived in the house.

In 1875, John and Eleanor sold 835 North Lincoln Avenue for $48,000.

The family subsequently lived on Sheffield Street and on West North Avenue in Manchester.

Mark W. Watson, who purchased 835 North Lincoln Avenue in 1875, was a partner in the Pittsburgh glass manufacturing firm of William McCully & Company. Watson, an Ohio native, also served as president of the Exchange National Bank of Pittsburgh and of two public utility companies while living at 835 North Lincoln Avenue. He lived at 835 North Lincoln Avenue with his second wife, Harriet Marshall Watson, and six children from his first and second marriages. The Watson family employed five servants who lived in their home.

Members ot the Watson family lived at 835 North Lincoln Avenue until 1909, when Mark W. Watson died. The Watson family owned the house until 1925. During the 1910’s, the family converted 835 North Lincoln Avenue to an apartment building.

Detailed information on the history of 835 North Lincoln Avenue is contained in the following report. ‘

Ownership

  • March 10, 1925
  • March 19, 1951
  • March 4, 1988
  • December 14, 1988
  • January 2, 1989
  • June 14, 1994

Martha Watson Sewell and Henry and Harriet B.W Chalfant. all of Pittsburgh. Doria S. and Harriet Watson Sproul Bolton, of London, England, and Julia Watson Home of Santa Barbara, California, conveyed 835 and 841 North Lincoln Avenue to William J. and Pearl A. Schaffer of Pittsburgh for $34,500.

(Deed Book Volume 2237, Page 621)

William J. and Pearl A. Schaffer of Blairsville, Indiana County, conveyed 835 North Lincoln Avenue to David T. Mosse of Pittsburgh for $20,000

(DVB 3134, P 355)

Allegheny County Sheriff Eugene L. Coon conveyed 835 North Lincoln Avenue and other properties to American Property Consultants (75% interest) and Italian Tannery Group Inc. (25% interest) for $6277.24. This deed conveyed a total of 18 properties in Allegheny County. The properties were sold at sheriff’s sale as the result of a suit filed by Richard H. Mosse, Sharon B. Mosse, Linda Mosse Baer and Judith Mosse Kruger against Daniels Realty Company, a Pennsylvania General Partnership, Mosse Realty’ Company, a Pennsylvania General Partnership, Pittsburgh Associates, a general partner. Michael N. Appell, a general partner, Martin J Stamler, a general partner, and Mosse Investment Corporation, a Pennsylvania corporation.

(DVB 7849, P 311)

Italian Tannery Group Inc. conveyed its 25% interest in 835 North Lincoln Avenue, as part of a group of 18 properties, to Oakland Real Property Associates for $10 and considerations.

(DVB 7940, P 450)

American Property Consultants conveyed its 75% interest in 835 North Lincoln Avenue, as part of a group of 18 properties, to Oakland Real Property Associates for $10 and considerations.

(DVB 7940, P 468)

Oakland Real Property Associates conveyed 835 North Lincoln Avenue to Frank L. Colosimo for $165,000.

(DVB 9238, P 359)

Age of the House

Construction

John Frazier, an Allegheny City building contractor, built 835 North Lincoln Avenue as a home for himself and his family between 1864 and 1867.

John Frazier purchased property that included the lot on which 835 North Lincoln Avenue now stands on February 1, 1864. Frazier paid $3200 lfor the property, which measured 48′ wide along North Lincoln Avenue (then Central Street) by 285’7.75″ deep to Ridge Avenue. This purchase, at 23 cents per square foot, was comparable to prices paid for other undeveloped lots in Allegheny West at the time, and indicates that 835 North Lincoln Avenue had not yet been built.

The 1867 Pittsburgh directory listed John Frazier as living at 68 Central Street for the first time. Plat maps, insurance maps, and city directories published during the nineteenth century indicate that 835 North Lincoln Avenue was known as 68 Central Street in 1807 and as 68 Lincoln Avenue between 1868 and 1899.

John Frazier was listed in Pittsburgh city directories published in 1865 and 1800 as living in an un-numbered house or houses on Central Street. It is possible that Frazier lived at 835 North Lincoln Avenue by that time. However, it should be noted that Frazier had lived on North Lincoln Avenue since 1863, the year before he purchased the site of 835 North Lincoln Avenue.

Architectural Style

The shape of 835 North Lincoln, remaining exterior architectural details and the time at which it was built suggest that John Frazier built the house in the ltalianate style and with some influence of the Greek Revival style. The house was constructed with a hipped roof, the most common roof type for earlier and free-standing ltalianate houses in the Pittsburgh area. It’s is possible that the house was orignally topped by a cupola.

Exteriors of ltalianate houses built in Pittsburgh were characterized by arched door and window openings, prominent or projecting door and window hoods and decorative brackets supporting box gutters. Interior details of ltalianate homes usually included flared newel posts and spindles, plaster medallions above ceiling light fixtures, crown molding (then known as plaster cornice), marble or wood mantels with arched openings, four-panel doors with porcelain knobs and ornamented cast iron lunges and non-symmetncal door and window trim with diagonally mitered corners. In Pittsburgh, many ltalianate homes were built with stairways that incorporated landings located about three steps below the main level of the second floor. Most ltalianate homes also featured two-over-two double hung windows.

The Italianate style was the prevailing architectural style for homes and commercial buildings constructed in the Pittsburgh area between the mid-1860’s and about 1885.

The smaller size of the third floor windows and the use of dentil trim above them indicate the influence of the Greek Revival style in construction of 835 North Lincoln Avenue. The Greek Revival style was the predominant architectural style for homes constructed in southwestern Pennsylvania between about 1830 and 1860. The style’s hallmarks included low-pitched roofs, prominent use of columns, elaborate classically-inspired trim around door and window openings, shorter third-floor windows, sidelights and transoms around front door openings and dentil trim.

Available records do not identify an architect who is credited with design of 835 North Lincoln Avenue.

Addition

The large rear addition to 835 North Lincoln Avenue was constructed between 1872 and 1882. The addition was not depicted on a plat map of the First Ward of Allegheny City that was published in 1872. The next available map, published in 1882, shows that the addition had been built.

Through the Years

 

Residents

The Fraziers

Pittsburgh city directories, U.S. census records, biographical materials and other sources provide information on John and Eleanor Frazier, the first owners of 835 North Lincoln Avenue.

Learn More

The Watsons

Local historical records also provide information on Mark W. Watson, who purchased 835 North Lincoln Avenue in 1875. Watson lived at 835 North Lincoln Avenue until his death in 1909, and members of his family owned the house until 1925.

Learn More

Occupants in 1920

In 1920, according lo census records, 835 North Lincoln Avenue contained seven occupied apartments. Census records list the heads of the households as Percy Browning, Hugh Mulholland, Fred Knapp Miller, John Derstine, George D. Barret, Roy Gibson, and Carl Edward Maider.

Percy and Agnes Browning occupied the first apartment that was enumerated at 835 North Lincoln Avenue in 1920. Percy Browning, 37, was a boiler maker and Agnes Biowning, 35, had no occupation. The childless couple had immigrated From England in 1906.

Hugh Mulholland, 60, was a Kentucky native and employed as a manager by an oil company. His wife, Julia Gertrude Mulholland, 49, did not work. She had been born in Massachusetts.

Fred Knapp Miller was a 34-year-old salesman who worked for a beef company. He and his wife, I. Josephine Miller, 27, were Pennsylvania natives.

John Derstine was a 20-year-old machinist. His wife, Estella, was 18. The Derstines were the parents of the only child who lived at 835 North Lincoln Avenue when the 1920 census was taken. John Derstine Jr. was six months old. All three members of the Derstine family were Pennsylvania natives.

George D. and Irene M. Barret occupied the fifth apartment that was enumerated at 835 North Lincoln Avenue in 1920. George D. Barret, 23, was a draftsman, and Irene M Barret. 18, did not work. The couple, natives of West Virginia, had no children.

Roy Gibson, an adding machine salesman, was 40 years old and an Ohio native. His wife, Lillian, had been born in Arkansas. She did not work.

Carl Edward Marder, 43, worked as a laborer in a steel mill. He had been born m Pennsylvania. Dorothy I., his Scottish-born wife, was 41 and did not work.

The census also enumerated two men as lodgers at 835 North Lincoln Avenue, without indicating in which apartment they lived. L.S. David, 28, was a civil engineer in a fabricating plant. He had been born in South Carolina. John Geib Jr., 32, was a candy and tobacco salesman. He was a native of Pennsylvania.

The 1920 census is the most recent census that provides detailed information on occupants of 835 North Lincoln Avenue. Manuscript census records arc withheld from the public for 72 years, to protect the privacy of persons enumerated.

Neighborhood Development

During and immediately after the Civil War, following the 1858 subdivision of the rope walk property, North Lincoln Avenue developed as a mixture of middle-class housing and mansions. The new Allegheny West neighborhood became a desirable alternative to older sections of Allegheny City like the East and South Commons and lower Federal Street, which contained residential, commercial and industrial land uses. Many of the original residents of the mansions and middle-class houses that line North Lincoln Avenue were merchants and manufacturers who previously lived in Downtown Pittsburgh or older sections of Allegheny City.

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:

Maps

  • a copy of part of an 1852 map depleting the Allegheny City area
  • copies of plat maps of the area around 835 North Lincoln Avenue, published in 1872, 1907 and 1925
  • a copy of an 1884 fire insurance map of the area around 835 North Lincoln Avenue

Frazier/Cowden

Watson

  • a copy of a photograph of Mark W. Watson from Notable Men of Pittsburgh and the Vicinity
  • an article on the death of Mark W. Watson from the Pittsburgh Press, June 1 1909
  • the obituary of Harriet Watson from the Pittsburgh Press, May 24, 1906
  • an advertisement for William McCully & Company from Pittsburgh: Its Industry and Commerce (1870)
  • an article on the wedding of Julia Watson and Bernard S. Horne from the Pittsburgh Press, October 11, 1893
  • a copy of an advertisement for the Exchange National Bank from the 1903 Pittsburgh city directory

 


A Researched History
By: Carol J. Peterson

all photos by Chris Siewers, unless otherwise noted

812 Galveston Avenue

812 Galveston Avenue (Front)

Introduction

812 Galveston Avenue is a three story Italianate style red brick house occupying a 19.01′ wide by 96.18′ to 96.19′ deep lot located in the Allegheny West section of the city of Pittsburgh.

Theodore H. Nevin, a bank president and paint manufacturer, had the row of houses that includes 812 Galveston Avenue built between 1881 and 1884. Nevin, who lived in Sewickley, built the row of houses as rental property. Early occupants of 812 Galveston Avenue included the family of John Blue, a boiler setter.

812 Galveston Avenue was originally known as 112 Grant Avenue.

Detailed information on the ownership history, age, first owner, and early occupants of 812 Galveston Avenue follows.

Ownership

  • November 26, 1861
  • August 28, 1863
  • July 7, 1874
  • December 17, 1919
  • February 2, 1920
  • January 31, 1952
  • December 15, 1969
  • July 27, 1982
  • June 29, 1984
  • October 16, 1989

John and Abigail Irwin of the city of Allegheny to Theodore H. Nevin, Robert P. Nevin, and Samuel M. Finley, all of Allegheny County, $1700. This deed conveyed a lot of ground bounded by Tremont Street (later Grant Avenue, now Galveston Avenue), an unnamed 20′ wide alley (later Manilla Street, now Maolis Way), and Central Street (later Lincoln Avenue and Lynndale Avenue, now North Lincoln Avenue). The lot measured 140 ‘9.575″ along Grant Street, 96’5.125″ along the alley, 140’9.575″ along the eastern lot line, and 96’5.125″ along Central Street. The property conveyed consisted of Lots 43, 44, 45, and 46 in John Irwin’s Plan of the Rope Walk, later recorded in Plan Book Volume 2, Page 173.

(Deed Book Volume 165, Page 521)

Samuel M. and Sallie A. Finley of Allegheny County to John Irwin Jr., $967. This deed conveyed the grantors’ one third interest in Lots 43, 44, 45, and 46 in John Irwin’s Plan, and in other property on Western Avenue.

(DBV 166, P 300)

Martha Mary and John Irwin Jr. of Leet Township to Theodore H. Nevin of Sewickley, $15,000. This deed conveyed one third interest in Lots 43, 44, 45, and 46.

(DBV 330, P 318)

Elizabeth A. Nevin, widow, of Sewickley, to James J. Cunningham of the city of Pittsburgh, $1 and other valuable considerations. This deed and subsequent deeds conveyed a 19.01′ wide by 96.18′ to 96.19′ deep lot on the corner of Galveston Avenue and Manilla Way. The lot was known as part of Lots 43, 44, 45, and 46 in John Irwin’s Plan, and contained a three story brick dwelling known as 812 Galveston Avenue, with a brick stable in the rear. Theodore H. Nevin had died and in his last will and testament, dated October 19, 1882, and recorded in Will Book Volume 27, Page 325, left the property to his son Charles Finley Nevin. Charles Finley Nevin died and in his last will and testament, dated August 6, 1896, recorded in Will Book Volume 72, Page 148, left the house to his wife Elizabeth A. Nevin.

(DBV 2023, P 3)

James J. and Mary Cunningham of the city of Pittsburgh to Michael and Katherina Preininger of the city of Pittsburgh, $5850.

(DBV 2010, P 373)

Michael and Katherina Preininger of the city of Pittsburgh to Anthony and Rose Murlis of the city of Pittsburgh, $1 and other good and valuable considerations.

(DBV 3177, P 74)

Anthony and Rose Murlis of the city of Pittsburgh to George and Dorothy Liss of the city of Pittsburgh, $2000. This deed gave the grantees’ residence as 5721 Elgin Street.

(DBV 4517, P 336)

George and Dorothy Liss of the city of Pittsburgh to George Liss of the city of Pittsburgh, in consideration of natural love and affection.

(DBV 6562, P 507)

George Liss, unmarried, to Tulum, Inc., a corporation, $43,000. This deed conveyed 812 Galveston Avenue and 810 Galveston Avenue.

(DBV 6903, P 128)

Tulum, Inc., to Michael J. White, M.D., $85,000. This deed conveyed 812 Galveston Avenue only.

(DBV 8120, P 377)

Age of the House

All available information indicates that Theodore H. Nevin had the row of houses that includes 812 Galveston Avenue built between 1881 and 1884.

An 1872 plat map of part of Allegheny shows that the lot on which 808-812 Galveston Avenue and 850-858 North Lincoln Avenue were later built contained a long and narrow building at the corner of Galveston and North Lincoln Avenues and four small structures, apparently stables, on Maolis Way. The stables may have been used by Theodore H. Nevin’s paint factory.

An 1881 plat map shows a brick and frame building at the corner of Galveston Avenue and Maolis Way. The 1881 map also shows that 850-858 North Lincoln Avenue had been built.

An 1884 plat map shows that 808-812 Galveston Avenue had been built.

Allegheny County mortgage records contain no record of any mortgage taken by Theodore H. Nevin for construction of 808-812 Galveston Avenue.

The July 7, 1874 sale for $15,000 of one-third interest in the 13,577 square foot lot that contained 808-812 Galveston Avenue and 850-858 North Lincoln Avenue, at $3.31 per square foot, indicates that 850-858 North Lincoln Avenue had been built.

Through the Years


 

Owner & Residents

The Nevins

U.S. census records, Pittsburgh city directories, and biographical materials provide information on Theodore H. Nevin, the builder of the row of homes that includes 812 Galveston Avenue.

Learn More
 

Early Occupants

An 1890 plat map of Allegheny shows that 812 Galveston Avenue was known as 112 Grant Avenue.

The 1890 manuscript census, which would provide information on occupants of 812 Galveston Avenue in that year, was destroyed in a fire following its completion.

The 1900 manuscript census shows that 812 Galveston Avenue was rented to a family headed by John Blue, a boiler setter.

John Blue and his wife Lizzie, both 55, had been born in Pennsylvania to parents also born in Pennsylvania. In 1900, John and Lizzie Blue had been married 25 years and had had five children, with all of their children living at the time of the census.

The Blue family’s children were Clara, 24, Stella, 22, John J., 19, Harry, 16, and Eva, 14. John and Harry Blue worked as boiler setters, and Eva Blue attended school. All of the children had been born in Pennsylvania.

 
The 1900 manuscript census also reported that all residents of 812 Galveston Avenue were able to read and write and that no working members of the Blue family had been unemployed during the previous year.

The 1910 manuscript census contains no record of residents of 812, 810 or 808 Galveston Avenue in that year.

The 1920 manuscript census will be available for public review in 1992 and should provide information on residents of

812 Galveston Avenue in that year. Census records are sealed for 72 years to ensure confidentiality.

Supplementary Materials

The following materials accompany this report:

  • a copy of an 1852 plat map of part of Allegheny, including Tremont Street
  • a copy of an 1872 plat map of part of Allegheny, including Grant Avenue
  • a copy of a 1910 plat map of part of the North Side, including Galveston Avenue
  • the obituary of Theodore H. Nevin, from the Pittsburgh Commercial Gazette, May 1, 1884
  • biographical information on Hannah I. Nevin, from The Social Mirror
  • the obituary of Hannah I. Nevin, from the Bulletin-Index, September 23, 1899

A Researched History
By: Carol J. Peterson

all photos by Chris Siewers, unless otherwise noted

Workshop: Vegetable Gardening

Saturday, May 26, 2015
6:00 pm — 7:30 pm

Growing your own food is one of the most satisfying forms of gardening. Vegetable gardening provides the opportunity to select varieties you like, plus it provides your family with fresh produce that is free from harmful pesticides. This class will cover the basics of planning your vegetable garden, preparing the soil, selecting plant and seed varieties (including hybrids and heirlooms), starting plants from seed, planting, tending your plants, troubleshooting problems, extending the season, and getting the most out of small plots.

About the presenter: Martha Swiss is a garden writer, designer, and speaker. She is a regular contributor to Pennsylvania Gardener magazine and the publications editor for the Pittsburgh Botanic Garden. Her articles have also appeared in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and Fine Gardening. She is a graduate of Chatham University’s landscape design program and a Penn State master gardener.

Landmarks Preservation Resource Center
744 Rebecca Avenue
Wilkinsburg, PA 15221

This workshop is free to PHLF Members. Click here for more information about PHLF membership and please join! Non-members: $5

RSVPs are appreciated. Contact:

Mary Lu Denny – (412) 471-5808 x 527