Pittsburgh iron and steel manufacturer B.F. Jones and his wife, Mary McMasters Jones, had 838 North Lincoln Avenue built in 1889. They had the house constructed for their daughter, Elizabeth Jones Horne, and her husband, Joseph O. Horne. The house was designed by the firm of Longfellow, Alden & Harlow, whose partners had recently worked for H.H. Richardson and McKim, Mead & White. In addition to the cost of building 838 North Lincoln Avenue, B.F. Jones spent $15,250 to purchase the property and an additional amount to demolish an earlier dwelling and carriage house on the site.
Elizabeth Jones Horne and her family lived at 838 North Lincoln Avenue between 1889 and 1906. Her husband, Joseph O. Horne was a son of the Pittsburgh department store owner and a member of Allegheny City Council in the 1890s. The Hornes were divorced in the late 1890s. Elizabeth and her three children moved from North Lincoln Avenue to the family’s summer home in Sewickley Heights in 1906.
All four of B.F. Jones’ adult children resided in Allegheny West in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, and some of Jones’ grandchildren made their homes there as well. After Elizabeth Horne left 838 North Lincoln Avenue, she rented the house to Madelaine F. Laughlin Alexander, a niece, and her husband Maitland Alexander, the pastor of the First Presbyterian Church of Pittsburgh. The Alexanders lived at 838 North Lincoln Avenue for approximately four years before they moved into a new mansion that they commissioned at 920 Ridge Avenue. Records of the 1910 census show that the Alexander family had six servants who lived in the house- the same number of household staff that the Horne family had employed in 1900.
Henry B. and Constance Alden Darlington rented 838 North Lincoln Avenue between 1912 and 1915. Henry Darlington was a grandson of Harry Darlington of Brighton Road, and helped establish a spring manufacturing company while living in the house. Constance Alden Darlington was a daughter of Frank Alden of Longfellow, Alden & Harlow. Henry Darlington died at home in 1915, from a self-inflicted bullet wound. Constance Darlington and her son, Henry Darlington Jr., left Pittsburgh within a short time, and Elizabeth Horne sold the house in 1916.
The former Horne house at 838 North Lincoln Avenue has now had a total of 12 owners. Detailed information on the history of the house is contained in the following report.
- March 17, 1790
- November 2, 1813
- March 9, 1816
- October 14, 1860
- March 12, 1881
- March 14, 1881
- February 20, 1888
- May 29, 1894
- April 8, 1916
- April 18, 1916
- May 5, 1916
- December 2, 1920
- January 27, 1921
- April 30, 1924
- October 2, 1947
- October 29, 1990
- July 1, 1991
Charles Wilkins, merchant, of the town of Pittsburgh conveyed property that included the site of 838 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 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.
(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 the lot on which 838 North Lincoln Avenue stands to Mrs. Ann Reed of Allegheny City for $450. The lot measured 24’ wide along North Lincoln Avenue (then Central Street) by 140’9-5/8” deep to Maolis Way (then an un-named alley), and was known as Lot 52 in a plan of lots laid out by John Irwin (Allegheny County Plan Book 2, Volume 173).
(DBV 151 P 47)
Allegheny County Sheriff Thomas H. Hunter conveyed the lot on which 838 North Lincoln Avenue stands to Archibald McBride. The deed stated that the property contained a two-story brick house and a stable.
(DBV 409 P 586)
Archibald and Fannie McBride of Pittsburgh conveyed the lot on which 838 North Lincoln Avenue stands to William Farley of Allegheny City for $6775.
(DBV 409 P 588)
William T. and Fannie L. Farley of Allegheny City conveyed the lot on which 838 North Lincoln Avenue stands to Benjamin F. Jones of Allegheny City for $15,250.
(DBV 602 P 32)
Benjamin F. and Mary McM. Jones of Allegheny City conveyed 838 North Lincoln Avenue to Elizabeth M. Horne of Allegheny City, their daughter, for $1. The house occupied Lot 52 in the John Irwin Plan.
(DBV 883 P 1)
Elizabeth M. Horne of Sewickley Heights conveyed 838 and 840 North Lincoln Avenue to Richard E. McClure of Pittsburgh for $1 and other considerations.
(DBV 1850 P 412)
Richard E. McClure of Pittsburgh conveyed 838 and 840 North Lincoln Avenue to Thomas H. Hasson of Pittsburgh for $1 and other considerations.
(DBV 1850 P 411)
Thomas H. and Amelia S. Hasson of Pittsburgh conveyed 838 North Lincoln Avenue to Thomas G. Hill of Pittsburgh for $10,000.
(DBV 1849 P 272)
Thomas G. Hill of Pittsburgh conveyed 838 North Lincoln Avenue to Alexander M. Patterson of Pittsburgh for $1 and other considerations (tax stamps suggest a price of $13,000).
(DBV 2109 P 354)
Alexander M. Patterson conveyed 838 North Lincoln Avenue to Edward E. and Zillah G. Wright for $1 and other considerations (tax stamps suggest a price of $4000).
(DBV 2037 P 490)
Edward E. and Zillah G. Wright of Pittsburgh conveyed 838 North Lincoln Avenue to Abraham H. and Gertrude L. McFerren of Pittsburgh for $18,000.
Abraham H. McFerren died on October 23, 1935. Full title to 838 North Lincoln Avenue was then vested in Gertrude L. McFerren, who died while owning the house.
(DBV 2181 P 586)
Mellon National Bank and Trust Company and Fred C. Houston, executors of the will of Gertrude Launtz Hopkins McFerren, conveyed 838 North Lincoln Avenue to William F. and Marion S. Thomas of Pittsburgh for $12,000.
William F. Thomas died on June 22,1958. His death vested full title to the house in Marion S. Thomas, who died on March 3,1981. Title to the house then passed to Philip W. Thomas.
(DBV 2977 P 83)
Philip W. Thomas conveyed 838 North Lincoln Avenue to Benard A. and Joedda McClain Sampson for $49,000.
(DBV 8363 P 274)
George R. Whitmer and Mariann E. Sonntag purchased 838 North Lincoln Avenue from Benard A. and Joedda McClain Sampson.
(DBV 8517 P 358)
Age of the House
Iron and steel manufacturer B.F. Jones and his wife, Mary McMasters Jones, had 838 North Lincoln Avenue constructed in 1889 for their daughter, Elizabeth Horne, and her family.
Plat maps published in 1872 and 1882 and an 1884 fire insurance map show that the present house at 838 North Lincoln Avenue had not been built, and that an earlier dwelling occupied its site. The 1884 map indicates that a two-story iron-clad carriage house, measuring approximately 25’ by 20’, stood at the rear of the property. B.F. Jones purchased the lot on which the house stands for $15,250 on February 20,1888. The amount that Jones paid indicates that the earlier house on the property was still standing.
The 1890 Pittsburgh city directory listed Joseph O. Horne, Elizabeth Jones Horne’s husband, at 69 Lincoln Avenue (now 838 North Lincoln Avenue) for the first time. An 1890 plat map and an 1893 insurance map show that the house that now stands on the lot had been built. The carriage house had been removed from the rear of the lot.
The book Architecture after Richardson: Regionalism before Modernism- Longfellow, Alden and Harlow in Boston and Pittsburgh (Margaret Henderson Floyd, 1994) identifies 838 North Lincoln Avenue as one of the Allegheny City houses that were designed by that prominent architectural firm, and reports that the house was constructed in 1889.
The facade of 838 North Lincoln Avenue, particularly the first story, shows the influence of the Richardsonian Romanesque style in its rough-cut stone, rounded arches and the courses of the interconnected arches. The second story’s smooth masonry may reference the Richardsonian Romanesque style in its use of stone cladding and window opening placement, while also suggesting the designers’ wish to innovate rather than slavishly follow the style that Richardson had developed. The second story cladding, together with the egg-and-dart and dentil ornamentation and dormer elements, may also have foreshadowed the use of Classical Revival elements that became a more significant part of Longfellow, Alden & Harlow and its successor firm’s work in the 1890s.
Longfellow, Alden & Harlow
The architectural firm of Longfellow, Alden & Harlow practiced in Pittsburgh and Boston between 1887 and 1896 (after Longfellow’s departure, Alden & Harlow continued into the 20th century). The firm was a partnership of Alexander Longfellow, Frank Alden, and Alfred Harlow. Longfellow and Alden had worked in the office of H.H. Richardson, who died in 1886. Harlow was a former employee of the New York firm of McKim, Mead & White. The three architects’ design skills and the reputations they had earned with their former firms enabled the firm to secure commissions to design some of the more important buildings that went up in Pittsburgh and Boston.
In Allegheny West, Longfellow, Alden & Harlow designed a number of dwellings that no longer stand, one of the largest and grandest of which was the Painter Mansion on Brighton Road immediately north of the B.F. Jones house. It is possible that the house, dubbed the “Allegheny Palace” by Pittsburgh newspapers, inspired B.F. Jones to employ the firm to design 838 North Lincoln Avenue for his daughter.
The firm’s work in and near the neighborhood that still stands includes the Pontefract Mansion on North Lincoln Avenue, the Rosenbach house at 836 Western Avenue, and the Boggs Mansion on West North Avenue. In Pittsburgh, Longfellow, Alden & Harlow’s work included the Main Branch of the Carnegie Institute and Library in Oakland, and the house known as Sunnyledge at Fifth and Wilkins avenues. Architecture after Richardson provides a thorough review of the work ofLongfellow Alden & Harlow and its successor firm, and its architectural and historical contexts.
Street Name and Numbering
North Lincoln Avenue was originally known as 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 at 838 North Lincoln was known as 69 Lincoln Avenue from the time that it was built until 1899, when the Northside’s modern street numbering system was put in place.
Lincoln Avenue became Lynndale Avenue in about 1909, when Pittsburgh city government changed a number of street names to eliminate duplication that resulted from Pittsburgh’s 1907 annexation of Allegheny City. The street was renamed North Lincoln Avenue in about 1913.
Pittsburgh directories, U.S. census records, biographical materials and other sources provide information on B.F. Jones, his daughter Elizabeth M. Horne, and other members of their family who were associated with 838 North Lincoln Avenue.
Madelaine F. Laughlin Alexander and her husband, Rev. Maitland Alexander, lived at 838 North Lincoln Avenue between 1907 and 1910.
Henry Buckingham Darlington and his wife, Constance Alden Darlington, rented 838 North Lincoln Avenue from Elizabeth M. Horne between 1912 and 1915.
The 1920 Census
The 1920 census enumerated occupants of two apartments at 838 North Lincoln Avenue.
E.E. Wright, a 28-year-old furniture salesman, was listed as the head of the first household recorded in the house. H had been born in Pennsylvania to parents who had immigrated from England, and his wife, Stella, 25, was at least a second-generation Pennsylvania native. The Wrights had no children, and two of E.E.’s siblings lived with them: Allenn, 30, a furniture salesman, and Agnes, 20, who had no occupation. A.J. Buka, 35, a surgeon, boarded with the family. He was unmarried and had been born in Pennsylvania to German immigrant parents.
Harry R. Irwin, 73, a retiree, was the head of the household in the other apartment. He had been born in Pennsylvania and his wife, M.H., 70, was from Ohio. They had one child at home, a daughter, Harry D. (sic), 46, who had no occupation. William Bosch, 65, a furniture salesman, was a lodger living with the Irwin family.
The 1930 Census
In 1930, Abraham and Gertrude McFerren lived at 838 North Lincoln Avenue. Abraham McFerren, 59, was a traveling salesman working for a hospital supplies company. He had been born in Pennsylvania, as had his parents; Gertrude, 56, had been born in Pennsylvania to parents from Wales and Pennsylvania. Although most houses on North Lincoln Avenue were used as rooming houses by 1930, the census did not record any other residents of the McFerrens’ home.
The 1930 census also reported that 838 North Lincoln Avenue had an estimated value of $40,000.
The 1940 Census
Gertrude McFerren was enumerated at 838 North Lincoln Avenue again in the 1940 census, which listed her age as 71. She was a widow with no occupation, but had income other than from salary or wages. She shared the house with a lodger, Edward Walters, 31, who had no occupation and was not seeking work. He had been born in Pennsylvania. The 1940 census was the first to gather information on education, and reported that Gertrude McFerren had completed five years of college and Edward Walters had finished one year of high school.
In 1940, the estimated value of 838 North Lincoln Avenue was $9000.
The 1940 census is the last census that provides information on occupants of 838 North Lincoln Avenue. Manuscript census records are withheld from public view for 72 years, to protect the privacy of persons who were enumerated.
During and immediately after the Civil War, following the 1858 subdivision of the Irwin family’s rope walk property, North Lincoln Avenue developed as a mixture of middle-class housing and mansions.
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
- information on B.F. Jones, from Century Cyclopedia of History and Biography of Pennsylvania (1897)
- a caricature of, and poem about, B.F. Jones, from All Sorts of Pittsburghers (1892)
- information on Joseph O. Horne, from History of the National Republican League (1898)
- information on Rev. Maitland Alexander, from History of Pittsburgh and Environs (1922)
- “Important Engagement is Announced” from the Pittsburgh Press, May 2,1910
- “H.B. Darlington Ends his Life with a Bullet” from the Pittsburgh Gazette Times, November 15, 1915
A Researched History
By: Carol J. Peterson
all photos by Chris Siewers, unless otherwise noted
Charles George Berthold Weihl was born in Darmstadt, Germany, in 1833 or 1834. Available records provide no information on Weihl’s activities before the late 1850’s, when he settled in Pittsburgh.
Weihl was first listed in the Pittsburgh directory in 1859, as a clerk living at 132 Smithfield Street, Downtown. Weihl was not listed in the 1860 directory, and does not appear to have been enumerated in Pittsburgh in the 1860 census. Weihl, still employed as a clerk, lived at 161 Smithfield Street in 1861.
In about 1862, Charles G.B. Weihl formed a wholesale liquor firm with John Seiferth, who had previously operated a saloon at 87 Third Avenue. The new partnership, John Seifert & Company, began operating in a double commercial-residential building at 27-29 Market Street, Downtown (demolished; at the southwestern comer of Market Street and Boulevard of the Allies). Weihl moved to 27-29 Market Street, also the home of John Seifert.
Charles GB Weihl
Charles G.B. Weihl purchased property in Allegheny County for the first time in February 1866, when he and John Seiferth bought the 34′ by 70′ lot that their building occupied for $16,050. Over the next 12 years Weihl and Seiferth acquired other property in East Liberty, Lower Saint Clair Township (now the South Side Slopes area), Mifflin Township (now the West Mifflin area) and the Woods Run area of Allegheny City. Weihl and Seiferth acquired most of these parcels in foreclosure proceedings, and it is possible that the two were settling business debts.
Charles G.B. Weihl and Katharine J. Beisel were married no later than 1870. Katharine J. Beisel, about 15 years younger than Charles G.B. Weihl, was born in Pennsylvania, apparently outside the Pittsburgh area, in September 1848. Her parents were born in Wurtemburg, Germany.
Available records suggest the possibility that Charles G.B. Weihl’s marriage to Kate J. Biesel was his second. Weihl’s will, made in 1883, left his estate to his wife and “to all children of mine born from the body of my present beloved wife, Kate J. Weihl.” Although the censuses of 1870 and 1880 document that Weihl had a daughter, Kate, born in about 1867 (when Kate J. Weihl would have been 18), the younger Kate Weihl did not share in her father’s estate. The younger Kate Weihl was still alive in 1885, two years after her father made his will, as documented by her February 17, 1885 wedding to Edmund H. Brackemeyer of Braddock, reported in the Pittsburgh Commercial Gazette.
Local records, including indices of weddings and deaths that were noted in the Pittsburgh Commercial Gazette and its successors, provide no information on any earlier marriage of Charles G.B. Weil.
After marrying, Charles G.B. and Kate J. Weihl lived at 27-29 Market Street. The 1870 federal census of population enumerated the Weihl family at this address. Charles G.B. Weihl, 36, was enumerated as a liquor dealer, and Katharine J. Weihl, 21, had no occupation. The Weihls then had one child, Katharine, three.
Ettie Mathilda Weihl as a Girl
In 1870, the Weihl family shared their living quarters with Katharine Weihl’s mother and sister, a boarder, and a servant. Katharine Beisel, 51, was a widow with no occupation, and Louisa Beisel, 17, was a dressmaker. Boarder Emil Walther, 19, worked in a bottling house. He was an immigrant from Darmstadt, Germany. The Weihls’ servant was Barbara Studler, 21, a Bavarian immigrant.
The 1870 manuscript census, the last census to provide information on assets of persons enumerated, reported that Charles G.B. Weihl owned real estate valued at $20,000 and had a personal estate of $15,000. Weihl’s worth of $35,000 was comparable to $1 million or more in the last decade of the twentieth century.
Census records report that Clara L. and Ettie Mathilda, the second and third children of Charles G.B. Weihl, were born at 27-29 Market Street in February 1876 and November 1876 (sic).
Charles G.B. Weihl remained a partner in John Seifert & Company, still at 27-29 Market Street, until 1879. In that year, Weihl left the partnership and founded his own wholesale liquor business at 307 Liberty Avenue, Downtown (on the northern side of Liberty Avenue, halfway between Ninth and Tenth Streets).
At the same time, the Weihl family moved from 27-29 Market Street to a rented house at 31 Federal Street in the lower Hill District (later Fernando Street; on the site of the Civic Arena redevelopment project).
Records of the 1880 census show that the five members of the Weihl family – Charles, 46, Katharine, 31, Katharine, 13, Clara, five, and Ettie, four – lived at 31 Federal Street with Catharine Beisel, 59 (sic), and a servant, Fredericka Weber, 19. Weber was a native of Hesse Cassel, Germany.
Ettie Mathilda Weihl as a Young Woman
The Weihl family moved from Federal Street to 942 Western Avenue after Charles G.B. Weihl purchased the house in June 1881.
Charles G.B. Weihl’s wholesale liquor business moved to 339 Liberty Avenue (at the northwestern comer of Tenth Street and Liberty Avenue) in about 1881. Weihl, however, closed this business by 1883.
The 1883 Pittsburgh directory listed Charles G.B. Weihl as a partner in Weihl & Lippert, which operated a saw factory, the Penn Saw Works, on the present site of the U.S. Steel Building on Grant Street in Downtown Pittsburgh. Weihl’s partner was E. Theodore Lippert of Shaler. Weihl withdrew from this partnership by the following year, and lived in retirement at 942 Western Avenue.
Clara L Weihl Swindell
An 1886 description of the Penn Saw Works and a 1904 biography of E. Theodore Lippert omitted any mention of Weihl as a partner in the firm.
In 1886, Charles G.B. Weihl acquired a 25′ by 126’ lot on the Temperanceville and Noblestown Plank Road in the West Mansfield section of Robinson Township for $1.
Charles G.B. Weihl died at age 53 on April 23, 1887. His death was not noted in The Alleghenian, a weekly Northside newspaper, and received only brief notices in the daily Pittsburgh newspapers. Allegheny Cemetery records give the cause of Weihl’s death as dropsy.
In his will, Weihl left his estate, including 944 Western Avenue, to his wife and his daughters Clara and Ettie, in equal thirds. Katharine J. Weihl’s interest in the estate required that she not remarry. A widow at 38, she chose not to accept the terms of the will and instead was granted an unconditional one-third interest under Pennsylvania intestate law. In 1898, Clara and Ettie conveyed their interest in the property to their mother.
Ettie Weihl Ridinger with Children
Extensive research on the period of construction of 944 Western Avenue does not establish whether construction of the house began before or after Charles G.B. Weihl’s death. Documentation of Weihl’s affluence suggests it is likely that Weihl commissioned the house as a larger residence for himself and his family. It is also possible that Weihl anticipated his death and had the house built as an income-producing property for his wife. Kate J. Weihl may have had the house built after she was widowed for the same reason.
Katharine J. Weihl lived at 942 Western Avenue for over a decade after her husband’s death. In about 1899, she began living with her daughter and son-in-law, Ettie and Charles W. Ridinger, after they moved to a house they purchased or had built at 3418 Perrysville Avenue, Observatory Hill. Charles W. Ridinger, who married Ettie Weihl in 1898, was an electrical engineer.
Edward H Swindell & Charles W Ridinger
Clara Weihl and Edward H. Swindell were also married in 1898. Edward H. Swindell was a partner in a family-owned business, William Swindle & Brothers, which manufactured and installed regenerative gas furnaces. The Swindells boarded in an un-numbered house in Lincoln Avenue in Bellevue at the time of the 1900 census, and moved to 407 South Pacific Avenue in Friendship by the following year. The family lived at 2228 Perrysville Avenue between 1905 and 1910, and at 6334 Forbes Avenue and 5847 Northumberland Street in Squirrel Hill during the following decade.
In about 1908, the Ridinger family and Kate J. Weihl moved to 5830 Marlborough Street in Squirrel Hill. Kate J. Weihl lived with the Ridinger family for about another decade. In her last years she lived with her daughter, Clara Swindell, and her family. She died in the Swindell home at 5888 Marlborough Avenue in Squirrel Hill on October 16, 1921, at age 73.
944 Western Avenue was constructed between 1884 and 1888, and probably in 1887. The house was built on the western half of a double lot that Charles G.B. Weihl had purchased in 1881. Members of the Weihl family lived at 942 Western Avenue between 1881 and 1898.
Charles G.B. Weihl was a German immigrant and a wholesale liquor dealer. Weihl died in April 1887, and it is not known whether construction of 944 Western Avenue began before or after his death. His widow, Kate J. Weihl, used 944 Western Avenue as a rental property between 1888 and 1921.
Dr. Amasa F. Chandler and his family appear to have been the first occupants of 944 Western Avenue, living in the house in 1888 and 1889. Dr. Chandler, a physician in Ohio for a number of years, did not practice medicine while he lived at 944 Western Avenue. Dr. Chandler was a founder of Charleroi, Washington County, and the Charleroi Plate Glass Company, while he lived at 944 Western Avenue or within a few months afterward.
Later tenants at 944 Western Avenue included the families of Christopher Flinn, a superintendent, and James G. Conner, a fraternity organizer. The house was divided into three apartments between 1910 and 1920.
Detailed information on the ownership history and age of 944 Western Avenue, and on Charles G.B. and Kate Weihl, is contained in the following report.
- December 10, 1867
- March 2, 1870
- June 15, 1881
- April 23, 1887
- June 27, 1898
- October 16, 1921
- April 10, 1923
- October 9, 1974
- January 3, 1980
- August 24, 1995
Elizabeth F. Denny of Pittsburgh conveyed property that included the lot on which 944 Western Avenue now stands to Sarah McKelvy of Allegheny City (now the Northside) for $2,500. The property conveyed was located on the northern side of Western Avenue, 106′ east of Allegheny Avenue, and measured 48′ wide along Western Avenue by 120′ deep to Pasture Alley (now Dounton Way). The property was known as Lots 6 and 7 in Block No. 2 in a plan of lots laid out in the Second Ward of Allegheny City by Mrs. Elizabeth F. Denny (Plan Book 6, Page 193). Lot 6 contained the present site of 944 Western Avenue, and Lot 7 contained the present site of 942 Western Avenue.
(Deed Book Volume 228, Page 207)
Sarah and Hugh McKelvy of Allegheny City conveyed Lots 6 and 7 to Frederick Andriessen of Allegheny City for $11,850. The property contained a house now known as 942 Western Avenue and the present site of 944 Western Avenue.
(DBV 252 P 427)
Frederick and Louisa Andriessen of Allegheny City conveyed Lots 6 and 7 to Charles G.B. Weihl of Pittsburgh for $9,000. The property contained a house now known as 942 Western Avenue and the present site of 944 Western Avenue.
(DBV 418 P 366)
Charles G.B. Weihl died April 23, 1887. Weihl left his estate in equal thirds to his widow, Katharine J. Weihl, so long as she remained his widow, and daughters, then Clara L. Weihl and Ettie Mathilda Weihl (Will Book Volume 31, Page 468). Katharine J. Weihl subsequently declined to accept the terms of the will, and filed her intention to take under the intestate laws of Pennsylvania.
Edward H. and Clara L. (Weihl) Swindell and Charles W. and Ettie M. (Weihl) Ridinger, all of Allegheny City, conveyed their interest in 944 and 942 Western Avenue to Kate J. Weihl, widow, of Allegheny City for $5. This deed also conveyed interest in other property in the Woods Run section of Allegheny City, on Penn Avenue in East Liberty, and on East Carson Street on the South Side.
(DBV 1005 P 153)
Kate J. Weihl died intestate on October 16, 1921. She was survived by Clara L. Swindell and Ettie M. Ridinger. Ettie M. Ridinger died February 27, 1922. In her will dated November 12, 1921 (Will Book Volume 173, Page 300) she left her interest in 944 and 942 Western Avenue to her husband, Charles W. Ridinger.
Clara L. and Edward H. Swindell and Charles W. Ridinger, widower, all of Pittsburgh, conveyed 944 Western Avenue to Julia Augusta Hill, unmarried, of Pittsburgh for $11,000.
(DBV 2164 P 9)
Julia Augusta Hill conveyed 944 Western Avenue to Donald Harrison Cowen for $10,000.
(DBV 5391 P 435)
Donald Harrison Cowen conveyed 944 Western Avenue to Jon Rock Two, a Pennsylvania limited partnership, for $50,500.
(DBV 6208 P 831)
Timothy G. Zinn purchased 944 Western Avenue from Jon Rock Two on August 24, 1995.
(DBV 9527 P 492)
Age of the House
All available information indicates that 944 Western Avenue was constructed between 1884 and 1888, and probably in 1887.
An 1872 Hopkins plat map shows that 944 Western Avenue had not yet been built. In 1872, the lot on which 944 Western Avenue now stands was owned by Frederick Andriessen, who also owned 942 Western Avenue. Andriessen’s house at 942 Western Avenue is depicted on the 1872 map.
Charles G. B. Weihl purchased the double lot that contained 942 Western Avenue and the site of 944 Western Avenue for $9,000 on June 15, 1881. This purchase price was consistent with or slightly lower than prices paid for other houses in Allegheny West at the time, and indicates that the double lot still contained only 942 Western Avenue.
An 1882 Hopkins plat map and an 1884 Sanborn Map Company insurance map show that 944 Western Avenue remained unbuilt.
The 1887 Pittsburgh city directory listed no residents of 243 (now 944) Western Avenue. The 1888 Pittsburgh city directory listed Dr. Amasa F. Chandler at 243 (944) Western Avenue for the first time.
The 1890 Hopkins plat map confirms that 944 Western Avenue had been built.
Pittsburgh directories show that the family of Charles G.B. Weihl lived at 942 Western Avenue before and after construction of 944 Western Avenue, making it impossible to use the Weihls’ residence to help document when 944 Western Avenue was built.
Allegheny County mortgage records contain no record of any mortgage taken by Charles G.B. Weihl or Ms wife, Kate Weihl, that appears to have financed construction of 944 Western Avenue.
944 Western Avenue was built in a transitional style, with an exterior that incorporated elements of the Second Empire and Queen Anne styles. The house’s shape, with a depth about three times its width and a mansard roof, is characteristic of an urban version of the Second Empire style that was popular in middle-class and upper-middle-class neighborhoods in Pittsburgh between about 1870 and 1885. Smooth, unomamented stone lintels like those used at 944 Western Avenue are typical of later houses with mansard roofs that were constructed in urban Pittsburgh neighborhoods through the early 1890’s.
The Queen Anne influence at 944 Western Avenue is shown in the elaborate woodwork of the front porch and the ornamentation of the main dormer.
The egg-and-dart terra cotta below the front cornice line and the dentil trim on the porch roof are both atypical of houses built in the Pittsburgh area in the 1880’s.
Interior architectural details of 944 Western Avenue also illustrate a transition between the Second Empire and Queen Anne eras. The house was built with four-panel doors, highly ornamental hinges and round backplates behind doorknobs, all typical of Second Empire and Italianate houses built in Pittsburgh before about 1885. However, the corner blocks, symmetrical door and window trim, handrail, spindles and newel posts of the main stairway and marbleized slate mantels with Eastlake incising are of the type used in construction of homes for upper-middle-class, middle-class and upper-working class families in Pittsburgh between about 1885 and 1895. The Queen Anne style was most popular locally during this period.
Available records do not identify an architect who was credited with design of 944 Western Avenue.
The present house numbering on Western Avenue is the fourth on the street.
Pittsburgh directory listings of Western Avenue residents indicate the first street numbers on the street were put in place in the late 1860’s. The 1872 Hopkins plat map depicts what appears to have been the earliest street numbers on Western Avenue; the present 942 Western Avenue was numbered 203, and if 944 Western Avenue had been built, it would have been numbered 201.
A second numbering system was in place by 1884, as shows by a Sanborn fire insurance map published that year. The present 942 Western Avenue was known as 100 Western Avenue, and 944 Western Avenue would have been assigned number 102.
Directory listings suggest the next numbering change on Western Avenue took place in 1886. The present 944 Western Avenue is shown as 243 Western Avenue on the 1890 Hopkins map, and 942 Western Avenue was numbered 247.
The present street numbering system was put in place in Allegheny West and other lower North Side neighborhoods in 1899.
Nearby streets such as Beech and North Lincoln Avenues have had only two house numbering schemes. The first, in place between the late 1860’s and 1899, numbered houses in ascending order from 1 to about 101 eastward from Allegheny Avenue. Known records do not provide information on any reason for the frequent numbering changes on Western Avenue.
The Home Today
Photos by Chris Siewers
Pittsburgh city directories, U.S. census records, and other materials provide information on Charles G.B. Weihl and his wife, Katharine J. Weihl.
Pittsburgh city directories and the 1889 social register show that Dr. Amasa F. Chandler and his family rented 944 Western Avenue from Kate J. Weihl in 1888 and 1889. Dr. Chandler and his family appear to have been the first residents of 944 Western Avenue.
Dr. Amasa F. Chandler lived in Ohio prior to his 1888 move to Allegheny City. After he moved to Allegheny City, he helped found the Charleroi Plate Glass Company and the city of Charleroi, Washington County. Dr. Chandler moved from Western Avenue to Charleroi in 1889 or 1890, and died in Charleroi in 1890.
More information on Dr. Amasa F. Chandler and his family is contained in biographical materials and information on the history of Charleroi, included with this report.
The 1890 manuscript census, which would provide information on residents of 944 Western Avenue in that year, was destroyed in a warehouse fire following its completion.
The family of Christopher Flinn rented 944 Western Avenue at the time of the 1900 census.
Christopher Flinn, 45, was enumerated as a superintendent. He had been born in Pennsylvania to Irish immigrant parents. His wife, Lucy, 40, had been born in Ohio to parents born in Maryland.
In 1900, Christopher and Lucy Flinn had been married for 20 years and had had six children. Five of their children were alive at the time of the census, and lived at home.
Francis, 19, was the oldest child of Christopher and Lucy Flinn. He was employed as a draftsman. Marie, 17, Antonette (sic), 16, Margarette, 10, and Julia, eight, attended school.
The 1900 census did not enumerate any servants or other non-family members at 944 Western Avenue.
Pittsburgh city directories listed Christopher Flinn as a superintendent living at 944 Western Avenue between 1900 and 1905. The 1902 directory shows that Flinn was employed at 3335 Preble Avenue in the Woods Run section of Allegheny City. This address does not correspond to any Preble Avenue addresses depicted in a 1905 Sanborn fire insurance map. Other directories did not list Flinn’s work address.
Christopher Flinn was not listed in Pittsburgh directories published before 1900 or after 1905.
In 1910, according to census records, 944 Western Avenue was rented to James G. Conner.
James G. Conner, 57, was a fraternity organizer. He and his wife, Narcissa E., 52, had both been born in Pennsylvania, as had their parents.
In 1910, James G. and Narcissa E. Conner had been married 36 years and had had two children. Both of their children, Frank F. and Narcissa B., were single and lived at home. Neither had an occupation.
Pittsburgh directory listings suggest the Conner family’s stay at 944 Western Avenue was very short. James G. Conner was never listed in directories at 944 Western Avenue. The 1910 directory listed Conner at 918 Beech Avenue, and with no occupation. Conner had lived at 1905 Saint Clair Terrace (now Saint Ives Street, near the General Mail Facility on California Avenue) a year earlier, and was listed as a clerk. He was not listed in the 1911 directory.
The 1920 census enumerated a total of 11 persons living in three apartments at 944 Western Avenue.
The first apartment at 944 Western Avenue was occupied by a family headed by Jerry Cochran, a single 52-year-old machinist. Cochran shared his living quarters with his widowed sister, Lula Hulego, 53, and widowed mother, Margaret Cochran, 76. Both women had no occupation. All three family members had been born in Pennsylvania.
Joseph Sullivan, 41, was the head of the second household at 944 Western Avenue. Sullivan was a traveling salesman who had been born in Massachusetts. His wife, Sarah, 33, had been born in New York State. Sarah Sullivan had no occupation. The couple had two children, Frances, three, and Bettie, 19 months.
The third apartment at 944 Western Avenue was rented to George Jones, a 35-year-old plumbing superintendent. Jones was a native of Ohio. Mary T., 29, his wife, had been born in Canada, and came to the United States in 1905. She had no occupation.
George and Mary T. Jones were childless, and shared their living quarters with two lodgers at the time of the 1920 census. Their lodgers were Catherine Glosser, 32, and Margaret Harshaw, 30. Both were single and worked as salesladies in department stores. Both lodgers had been born in Pennsylvania.
Records of the 1930 census show that 944 Western Avenue was rented to George and Grace E. Everett. The Everetts paid $130 per month to rent 944 Western Avenue, and shared the house with nine roomers.
George Everett, 46, was a laborer in a piano store. Grace E. Everett, 48, managed 944 Western Avenue, which the Everetts used as a rooming house. George and Grace E. Everett had both been born in Pennsylvania, as had their parents. The couple had no children who lived at home.
Roomers who lived at 944 Western Avenue in 1930 were:
- Cecelia A. Mathews, 29, who was divorced and worked as saleslady in a department store
- Elizabeth J. Mathews, eight, a daughter of Cecelia A. Mathews
- David Harris, 37, a laborer employed in building construction
- Margaret Harris, 30, his wife, who had no occupation
- Robert J. Clarke, 31, a clerk employed by a mine and mill supply company
- Zada A. Clarke, 25, his wife, who had no occupation
- Doris M. Clarke, six, their daughter
- Bessie M. Thomas, 36, a divorced woman who was a saleswoman in a dry goods store
- Gladys G. Thomas, 16, her daughter, an operator in a beauty parlor
George and Grace E. Everett, Cecelia A. and Elizabeth J. Mathews, and David and Margaret Harris were all natives of Pennsylvania. Robert J. Clarke had been born in Pennsylvania, and Zada A. Clarke had been born in Ohio. Their daughter Doris was born in Pennsylvania. Bessie M. and Gladys G. Thomas were both natives of Maryland.
Census records also indicate that Robert J. Clarke was the only resident of 944 Western Avenue who owned a radio.
944 Western Avenue was built more than two decades after the Allegheny West area began to develop as a genteel alternative to sections of Allegheny City like the east and south commons and the Anderson Street area, which were crowded and contained mixed residential, commercial and industrial uses by the end of the Civil War. While Ridge Avenue and Brighton Road became the home of some of the wealthiest residents of the Pittsburgh area, and Beech Avenue homes were built for middle-class families, Western Avenue developed as a somewhat unlikely mixture of mansions, homes of middle-class and working-class families, and small industrial sites. North Lincoln Avenue was developed with a mixture of mansions and middle-class housing.
The following materials accompany this report:
- a copy of an 1852 map of the Allegheny City area
- a copy of an 1872 plat map of part of Allegheny West
- a copy of an 1884 Sanborn fire insurance map of the area around 944 Western Avenue
- a copy of a 1925 plat map of the area around 944 Western Avenue
Dr. Amasa F. Chandler
- a copy of the 1889 Pittsburgh social register listing of members of the Chandler family at 243 (944) Western Avenue
- information on Amasa F. Chandler and his sons, Lee L. and Sellers McKee Chandler, from Encyclopedia of Pennsylvania Biography (1916)
- articles on early development of Charleroi, from the Pittsburgh Press, December 20, 1925 and March 11, 1934
- information on development of Charleroi, from Charleroi – the First 100 Years (1990)
Charles G.B. and Kate Weihl
- information on John Seiferth, former partner of Charles G.B. Weihl in John Seifert & Company, from Industries of Pittsburgh, 1879-80
- a copy of the 1880 Pittsburgh directory listing of Charles G.B. Weihl
- the notice of the wedding of the younger Kate Weihl and Edmund H. Brackemeyer, from the Pittsburgh Commercial Gazette, February 19, 1885
- information on the Penn Saw Works, from Pennsylvania Historical Review (1886)
- the death notice of Charles G.B. Weihl, from the Pittsburgh Post, April 25, 1887
- information of William Swindle & Brothers, from Pittsburgh of Today (1896)
- a biography of E. Theodore Lippert, former partner of Charles G.B. Weihl in the Penn Saw Works, from Memoirs of Allegheny County (1904)
- the obituary of Katherine J. Weihl, from the Pittsburgh Press, October 18, 1921
- an article about the sucicide of William Lyons from The Pittsburgh Daily Post, October 19, 1891
A Researched History
By: Carol J. Peterson
all photos by Chris Siewers, unless otherwise noted
Thanks to all who helped with the 2015 Wine and Garden Tour! We are deeply appreciative of neighbors who guided tours, cooked delicious appetizers, attended meetings to help us plan, recruited volunteers, designed the brochure, helped homeowners during the tour, found parking for visitors, hosted the after-party, planted flowers and otherwise helped to beautify the neighborhood by cleaning and weeding…and most especially to those who opened their homes and gardens to our visitors (after working for months on their properties): John DeSantis, Eleanor Coleman, Doug Lucas , Howard & Shirley Brokenbek, Cathy Serventi & Gene Wilson, Brian O’Neill and Jim Wallace.
Robert Milligan was born in Swissvale on August 28, 1869. Milligan first appeared in the Pittsburgh city directory in the late 1890’s as a physician who lived in Swissvale and practiced in the Smith Block in Downtown Pittsburgh. Directories listed Milligan as living in Swissvale and practicing in the Westinghouse Building during the early 1900’s. The 1909 directory reported that he lived at the Duquesne Club in Downtown Pittsburgh.
The 1910 manuscript census reported that Robert Milligan and his wife Marguerite lived at 934 Western Avenue with Marguerite Milligan’s mother, Hester Singer, and two servants. The Milligans, married one year, had no children. Robert Milligan, 39, was a physician in general practice, and Marguerite Milligan, 36, had no occupation.
Hester Singer, a 72 year old widow born in Pennsylvania, was of Irish descent. She had had four children, with all still living in 1910, and owned her home at 934 North Lincoln Avenue fully. She had no occupation.
Servants living at 934 Western Avenue were Agnes Benach, 36, a “ladies maid” who was born in Germany and immigrated to the United States in 1907, and Annie Kelley, 32, a chambermaid who was born in Ireland and immigrated in 1895.
Directories listed Robert Milligan at 934 Western Avenue through 1918. He was listed at 709 Irwin Avenue from 1919 to 1940, the year after Marguerite Singer Milligan died. After selling 709 Irwin Avenue in 1940, Milligan lived at the Hotel Schenley in Oakland through 1943, the last year he appeared in the directory.
The 1920 manuscript census will be available to the public in 1992 and should provide information on residents of 709 Irwin Avenue in 1920. Census information is withheld for 72 years after it is gathered for purposes of privacy.
Harry Darlington Jr. was born May 8, 1888, when his family lived at 50 Irwin Avenue (now 721 Brighton Road). His parents were Harry Darlington and Mary E. McCullough Darlington. Harry Darlington Jr. was born about two years before his parents demolished an earlier mansion on the site of 721 Brighton Road and built what is now known as the Darlington house.
Harry Darlington was an industrialist whose business pursuits included founding the Westmoreland & Cambria Natural Gas Company, operation of a brewery, and many corporate directorships. At the time of Harry Darlington Jr.’s birth, Harry Darlington operated a brewery at 110-112 First Avenue in Downtown Pittsburgh. Mary E. McCullough Darlington was the daughter of Jacob Nessly McCullough, a vice president of the Pennsylvania Railroad, and Rebecca T. Andrews McCullough.
According to the 1900 manuscript census, Harry Darlington Jr., then 12, lived at 50 Irwin Avenue with his parents, sister, and five servants. The census reported that Harry Darlington, 62, had been born in Pennsylvania to parents who had been born in England. Darlington owned his home fully. The census gave his occupation as “capitalist.”
Margaret E. McCullough Darlington, 44, had been born in Ohio to parents also born in Ohio. In 1900 the Darlingtons had been married 23 years and had had five children, with two children still living. In addition to Harry Darlington Jr., the Darlingtons had a daughter, Rebecca M., 20, who had no occupation.
The Darlingtons’ servants were Margaret Griffin, 31, who was born in Ireland and immigrated to the United States in 1883; Julia Griffin, 29, who was born in Ireland and immigrated to the United States in 1888; Bridget Carey, 48, born in Ireland and immigrated in 1873; Rose McCague, 36, born in Ireland and immigrated in 1883; and Loraine Oger, 21, born in Pennsylvania and of German descent.
The census also reported that all residents of 721 Irwin Avenue were able to read and write.
Harry Darlington Jr. first appeared in the Pittsburgh city directory in 1909, when he lived at 72 Irwin Avenue (now 709 Brighton Road). At the time, Darlington worked with his father in Room 42 of the Fidelity Building, 341 Fourth Avenue. Directories did not indicate the type of business in which the Darlingtons were engaged.
Sources provide conflicting information on whether Harry Darlington Jr. was married at the time of the 1910 census. The 1910 manuscript census reported that the younger Darlington, then 22, lived at 709 Irwin Avenue with a 20 year old woman identified as Lasheda W. Darlington, his wife. The census indicated that Lasheda W. Darlington had been born in Ohio, that the couple had been married one year, and that eight servants also lived at 709 Irwin Avenue.
Biographical materials indicate that Harry Darlington Jr. was first married in 1917, when he married Ethel Shields. Allegheny County marriage license applications contain no record of Darlington applying for a marriage license in or before 1910, and an index of weddings reported in Pittsburgh newspapers also does not mention Harry Darlington Jr. It seems likely that a census taker incorrectly recorded one of the many servants living at 709 Irwin Avenue as Harry Darlington Jr.’s wife.
The 1910 census reported that servants living at 709 Irwin Avenue were Bridget O’Neill, 30, who had been born in Ireland and immigrated in 1900; Howard Challingsworth, 30, born in England and immigrated in 1902; Louise Tiefenbuner, 34, born in Austrian Germany and immigrated in 1905; Elizabeth Yems, 32, born in Canada and immigrated in 1892; Josephine O’Hara, 24, born in Ireland and immigrated in 1903; Agnes P. Rintone, 35, born in Scotland and immigrated in 1892; Franklin C. Hubener, 38, born in New Jersey and of German descent; and Julia M. Dartoux, 39, born in France and immigrated in 1909.
The 1910 census also reported that Harry Darlington Jr. owned 709 Irwin Avenue fully, and gave Darlington’s occupation as “own income.” In 1910, the census also reported Darlington’s father’s occupation as “own income.”
Directories listed Harry Darlington Jr. as living at 72 or 709 Irwin Avenue and working in the Fidelity Building through 1918. Darlington was listed at 721 Irwin Avenue beginning in 1919; his father had died in 1914, and his mother in 1918. Continuing to work in the Fidelity Building, Darlington lived at 721 Irwin Avenue through 1925.
Harry Darlington Jr. was listed as living in Sewickley Heights and working in the Union Bank Building between 1926 and 1931. Darlington died on June 25, 1931.
709 Brighton Road is a three story red brick house occupying a 135’11” wide by 198′ deep lot located in the Allegheny West section of the city of Pittsburgh.
Harry Darlington, a millionaire industrialist who lived nearby at 721 Brighton Road, had 709 Brighton Road built in 1908 for his son, Harry Darlington Jr. The house was designed by George Orth and cost $60,000 to construct.
Darlington apparently demolished three older homes on the site that were owned by his mother-in-law, Rebecca T. McCullough, in order to construct 709 Brighton Road.
Detailed information on the ownership history, age, and owners of 709 Brighton Road is as follows:
- September 11, 1877
- June 24, 1879
- June 16, 1898
- July 14, 1902
- May 6, 1913
- April 1, 1919
- November 6, 1940
- July 2, 1942
- November 23, 1982
James L. and Margaret Graham of the city of Allegheny to Mrs. Rebecca T. McCullough of the city of Allegheny, $38,000.
This deed conveyed a lot of ground located on Irwin Avenue (now Brighton Road), 115′ north of the corner of Irwin Avenue and Ridge Street (now Ridge Avenue). The lot measured 58’5″ wide by 198′ deep, and contained “a large two story brick dwelling with mansard roof.” The lot was part of lots conveyed to James L. Graham by John Irwin and his wife on August 8, 1861, recorded in Deed Book Volume 150, Page 492, and by David Campbell and his wife on June 6,
1862, recorded in Deed Book Volume 156, Page 366.
(Deed Book Volume 369, Page 650)
Edith A. and Henry W. Oliver Jr. of the city of Allegheny to Rebecca McCullough of the city of Allegheny, wife of J.N. McCullough, $20,000.
This deed conveyed a 40′ wide by 198′ deep lot on Irwin Avenue, 70′ north of the corner of Irwin Avenue and Ridge Street. James L. and Margaret Graham had conveyed the lot to Henry W. Oliver Jr. as two parcels in two deeds dated April 26, 1876 and 1877 (date not given).
(DBV 395 P 154)
John L. and Louise T. McCutcheon of the city of Pittsburgh, James H. and Elizabeth C. McCutcheon of the city of Pittsburgh, Thomas G. and Annie S. McCutcheon of the city of Allegheny, and Eleanor M. and T. DeWitt Talmage of Washington, D.C., all the heirs of James McCutcheon, late of the city of Allegheny, deceased, to Rebecca T. McCullough, $50,000.
This deed conveyed a 37’6″ wide by 198′ deep lot located on the “west commons,” 173’5″ north of Ridge Street. The lot was known as Lot 8 and the northerly half of Lot 7 in the Plan of Lots of John Irwin, recorded in Plan Book Volume 2, Page 173. The lothad been conveyed by James L. Graham to James McCutcheon (date not given).
(DBV 1002 P 72)
Harry Darlington, trustee of the estate of Harry Darlington Jr., under the will of Rebecca T. McCullough, late of Allegheny County, and Rebecca McCullough Darlington, both of the city of Allegheny, to Mary E. McC. Darlington of the city of Allegheny, $1 and other good and valuable considerations.
This deed conveyed a 135’11” wide by 198′ deep lot located on Irwin Avenue, 75′ north of Ridge Avenue. The lot conveyed consisted of three lots acquired by Rebecca T. McCullough, mother-in-law of Harry Darlington, on September 11, 1877, June 24, 1879, and June 16, 1898, described above. Rebecca T. McCullough had died on June 4, 1902, and in her will, recorded in Will Book Volume 70, Page 429, left half her estate to her daughter Mary E. McC. Darlington.
(DBV 1200 P 72)
Harry and Mary E. McC. Darlington of the city of Pittsburgh to Harry Darlington Jr. of the city of Pittsburgh, $10 and natural love and affection.
(DBV 1772 P 425)
Harry Darlington Jr. and Ethel Shields Darlington, his wife, of the city of Pittsburgh, to Marguerite S. Milligan of the city of Pittsburgh, wife of Robert Milligan, $10.
(DBV 1947 P 330)
Robert Milligan, widower, and Robert Milligan and Gordon Fisher, trustees under the will of Marguerite Singer Milligan, deceased, to Carl E. and Grace S. Traubert of the city of Pittsburgh, $18,000. Marguerite Singer Milligan had died on June 13, 1939.
(DBV 2666 P 567)
Carl E. and Grace S. Traubert of the city of Pittsburgh to the Catholic Knights of Saint George, $20,400.
(DBV 2736 P 391)
The Catholic Knights of Saint George, a non-profit corporation, to the William Penn Association, a non-profit corporation, $350,000.
(DBV 6570 P 35)
Age of the House
All available information indicates that Harry Darlington had 709 Brighton Road built in 1908. City of Pittsburgh building permit dockets show that on October 20, 1908, Harry Darlington received a permit to erect one two story plus attic brick house on Irwin Avenue. The house was to measure 96′ wide by 72′ deep, contain 31 rooms, and have a slate roof.
Darlington hired W.F. Trimble & Sons to build the house, which had a construction cost of $60,000. City directories of the early 1900’s show that W.F. Trimble & Sons was located at 1717 Greenwood Street on the North Side near the current location of the Port Authority of Allegheny County headquarters. Directories also show that W.F. Trimble lived in Bellevue.
According to an advertisement in the Pittsburgh Architectural Club’s 1912 Yearbook, Marshall Brothers manufactured the house’s elevator. Marshall Brothers was located at 21st and Mary Streets on the South Side.
City of Pittsburgh building permit dockets also show that on June 24, 1909, Harry Darlington received a permit to erect one two story brick garage on Irwin Avenue near Ridge Avenue. The garage was to measure 50′ wide by 30′ deep, have a slate roof, and cost $9000 to construct. Darlington hired W.F. Trimble & Sons to build the garage.
George S. Orth, a prominent Pittsburgh architect, designed 709 Brighton Road. Orth, who lived in Bridgeville during the early 1900’s, was a partner with his brother Alex B. Orth in George S. Orth & Brother, located at 341 Sixth Avenue, Downtown. Alex Orth lived at 1411 Federal Street, North Side. During the 1890’s the Orth brothers had lived at 404-406 South Highland Avenue in Shadyside.
George S. Orth also designed the William Penn Snyder house at Ridge and Galveston Avenues (1911), “Wilpen Hall,” William Penn Snyder’s summer home on Waterworks Road in Sewickley Heights (1897-1900),
the Spencer house at 719 Amberson Avenue, Shadyside, described in The Spencers of Amberson Avenue (1886), 5141 and 5205 Ellsworth Avenue, Shadyside, and 10 adjacent homes on Colonial Place (1898), and the Western Pennsylvania School for Blind Children, Bayard Street and North Bellefield Avenue, Oakland (1893-94) .
Pittsburgh city directories, U.S. census records, and biographical materials provide information on Harry Darlington Jr.
Pittsburgh city directories, U.S. census records, and biographical materials also provide information on Robert Milligan, a physician.
Conversion to Rooming House
Carl E. and Grace S. Traubert, who owned 709 Brighton Road from 1940 to 1942, apparently converted the house to a furnished rooming house upon purchase.
Pittsburgh city directories show that the Trauberts lived nearby at 838 Ridge Avenue during the time they owned 709 Brighton Road. Directories published in 1941 and 1942 show that Grace S. Traubert operated a furnished rooming house at 709 Brighton Road and Carl E. Traubert worked as an assistant chemist for the United States Bureau of Mines.
The 1941 city directory indicated that Frederick L. Beach Jr., a laborer employed by Williams & Company, and his wife Mary were tenants at 709 Brighton Road, and that Frederick L. Beach, a freight terminal manager, and his wife Edith were tenants at 709 Rear Brighton Road.
As city directories listed tenants in apartments, but not tenants in rooming houses, it is likely that many additional families or persons lived at 709 Brighton Road during the brief period that the Trauberts owned the house.
The 1942 city directory showed that the Catholic Knights of Saint George occupied 709 Brighton Road, and that 709 Rear Brighton Road was vacant.
The following materials accompany this report:
- a copy of an 1852 plat map of the city of Allegheny, including Irwin Avenue (now N Lincoln Avenue)
- a copy of an 1872 plat map of part of Allegheny, including Lincoln Avenue
- a listing for Harry Darlington Jr. from the 1904 Social Directory of Greater Pittsburgh
- biographical information on Robert Milligan
- a copy of an advertisement for Marshall Brothers, manufacturer of 709 Brighton Road’s elevator, included in the Pittsburgh Architectural Club 1912 yearbook
A Researched History
By: Carol J. Peterson
all photos by Chris Siewers, unless otherwise noted
Philip and Martha Bianco, the third owners of 719 Brighton Road, operated a funeral home at 719 Brighton Road between 1955 and 1979.
Philip Bianco was born in 1906. He was the son of Angelo and Mary Bianco, who lived at 3414 Monroe Street in a small Italian settlement in the area now known as Polish Hill. Angelo Bianco was born in Italy and immigrated to the United States in 1881. In Pittsburgh, Angelo Bianco worked as a street lamp lighter, and later as a street lamp inspector.
The 1910 manuscript census indicates the Bianco family lived at 3414 Monroe Street and shared their home with two other families. In 1910 Angelo Bianco, 45, worked as a lamp inspector and owned his home. Mary Bianco, 38, had no occupation.
In 1910, the Biancos had had six children, with five of their children living at the time of the census. The census indicated that their children were Antonio, 17, an office clerk in a steel mill, Elizabeth, 15, Frank, 12, Peter, nine, and Felix (Philip), three.
In March 1992, Philip Bianco’s daughter Phyllis Abinanti indicated that her father was known as Felix as a child.
The Bianco family moved from 3414 Monroe Street to 136 Stratford Avenue in Friendship in the late 1910’s.
Philip Bianco first appeared in the Pittsburgh city directory in 1928, when he worked as an embalmer for the Grime & Blair funeral home, located at 4112 Main Street in Bloomfield. In the early 1930’s, Bianco began working for the William A. Sirlin funeral home at 620 East Ohio Street in East Allegheny; he and Martha lived on the premises. In the late 1930’s, Bianco opened his own funeral home at 239 South Highland Avenue in Shadyside, and the Biancos moved their home to this location.
The Biancos moved their business and home to 825 Western Avenue in 1943 or 1944, and remained at this location until 1955, when they purchased and moved their home and business to 719 Brighton Road. After Philip Bianco’s death in 1960, Martha Bianco operated the funeral home at 719 Brighton Road until her death in June 1979. The Bianco Funeral Home continued operation through the end of 1979.
719 Brighton Road was known as Holmes Hall for Boys between 1923 and 1954. Holmes Hall for Boys was established by the will of James Holmes’ cousin Jane Holmes.
In her will, dated December 31, 1883 and recorded in Will Book Volume 28, Page 570, Jame Holmes left $50,000 for the founding of a Christian home for working Protestant boys to age 21. The home was to be known as the Protestant Home for Boys and was later renamed Holmes Hall for Boys.
After its founding, the Protestant Home for Boys was located at 33 Anderson Street (later 201 Anderson Street), at the corner of Robinson Street in Allegheny. The Home was located on Anderson Street between about 1886 and 1910, when it moved to 330 East North Avenue.
The Protestant Home for Boys was renamed Holmes Hall for Boys in about 1915. Holmes Hall for Boys remained at 330 East North Avenue until about 1918, when it was moved to 204 East Stockton Avenue. Holmes Hall for Boys moved to 203 Anderson Street in about 1920 and remained there until 1923, when it relocated to 719 Irwin Avenue.
Biographical materials indicate that Jane Holmes was a cousin of James Holmes, who had a sister also named Jane Holmes.
The Jane Holmes who founded the Protestant Home for Boys was known as “Pittsburgh Jane” Holmes in order to distinguish her from her cousin, “Baltimore Jane” Holmes. Both women were well-known for their philanthropic activities.
City directories of the 1880’s indicate that “Pittsburgh Jane” Holmes lived at 109 Penn Avenue in Downtown Pittsburgh.
U.S. census records, Pittsburgh city directories and biographical materials provide information on Letitia Holmes, the first owner of 719 Brighton Road, and members of her family.
1830 to 1870
Letitia Holmes was born in May 1830. She was the daughter of John and Letitia Caldwell of the town of Allegheny. John and Letitia Caldwell’s other children included William A. Caldwell, who lived with his sister Letitia Holmes at 719 Brighton Road for over three decades.
Allegheny County records show that in May 1828, John and Letitia Caldwell were granted Lots 27, 28, and 29 in the eastern liberties of the town of Allegheny by William Anderson of the city of Pittsburg (sic). William Anderson granted the lots “in consideration of the love, good will and affection which I bear to my son and daughter John Caldwell and Letitia his wife.” Each lot measured 50’9″ wide by 140′ deep. The lots were part of Lot 146 in the Reserved Tract called the town of Allegheny.
William Anderson had opened Liberty and Washington Streets, each 50′ wide, through Lot 146 in a deed dated May
27, 1826 and recorded in Deed Book Volume 36, Page 79.
James Holmes, the husband of Letitia Caldwell Holmes, was born in about 1815 in Maryland. He was the son of Sarah Holmes, whose other children included William B. Holmes, a meat packer and banker, and Jane Holmes, a philanthropist. James, William B. and Jane Holmes were cousins of Jane Holmes, whose will provided for the founding of Holmes Hall for Boys.
The Holmes family settled in Pittsburgh by the late 1830’s, living on Penn Avenue near Hay Street in what is now Downtown Pittsburgh. Later directories gave the family’s address as 96 Penn Avenue, and subsequently 324 Penn Avenue.
1872 and 1890 plat maps of what was then Pittsburgh’s Fourth Ward shows that 96 Penn Avenue was located on the southern side of Penn Avenue, three houses west of Fourth Street. The house measured 24′ wide by approximately 85′ deep. Immediately to the east of the Holmes home was 98 Penn Avenue (later 326 Penn Avenue), owned by the Caldwell family. The Caldwell home measured 24′ wide by about 75′ deep.
The Holmes and Caldwell houses occupied part of the present site of Gateway Center. Plat maps and city directories indicate that 324 Penn Avenue existed until 1950 or 1951. In later years the house was used as a rooming house and was surrounded by stores and other businesses.
The Caldwell home at 326 Penn Avenue was later converted to commercial uses, housing a dry cleaning business until it was demolished in about 1950.
The 1850 manuscript census enumerated families headed by Sarah Holmes and James Caldwell, Letitia Caldwell Holmes’ brother, consecutively, suggesting that the families lived next to one another. The census enumerated the Caldwell family in dwelling house 493 and the Holmes family in dwelling house 494 in Pittsburgh’s Fourth Ward.
Sarah Holmes, 60, had no occupation. Living with her were William B. Holmes, 40, who had no occupation and owned real estate valued at $14,000, James Holmes, 33, who had no occupation, and Jane Holmes, 37, who had no occupation. All members of the Holmes family had been born in Maryland. William B. Holmes was the only Holmes family member who owned real estate. No members of the Holmes family had amassed a “personal estate.”
Also living with the Holmes family was Jane Nicklin, 19, who had been born in England and was reported to have no occupation. Jane Nicklin may have been a servant.
James Caldwell, 30, who had been born in Pennsylvania, worked as a tanner and currier, and owned no real estate. Mary Caldwell, 24 and a native of Ohio, had no occupation and owned real estate valued at $12,000. Sarah Caldwell, seven months old, had been born in Pennsylvania.
Ellen May, 25, who had been born in Ireland, and Sarah Davis, 10, who had been born in Pennsylvania, also lived with the Caldwell family.
The 1850 manuscript census apparently did not emumerate Letitia Caldwell (later Letitia Caldwell Holmes) in Pittsburgh or Allegheny.
Local marriage records of the 1800’s contain no information on the wedding of James Holmes and Letitia Caldwell.
James Holmes appeared in the Pittsburgh city directory as early as 1850, when he was listed as living on Penn Avenue in Pittsburgh. The 1850 directory did not give Holmes’ occupation. In 1856, James Holmes was a partner with William B. Holmes in William B. Holmes & Brother, a pork packing company located at 12 Market Street in
Pittsburgh. Both James and William B. Holmes lived at 96 Penn Avenue in 1856.
The May 9, 1881 obituary of William B. Holmes also reported that James and William B. Holmes were partners in a pork packing business. The 1893 obituary of Holmes’ sister Jane mentioned William B. Holmes and Sarah Pusey, a sister, but not James Holmes.
Sarah Holmes died October 24, 1859, at age 70. Her funeral, according to the Pittsburgh Gazette, took place at the Holmes family residence at 96 Penn Avenue.
The 1860 city directory listed James Holmes as proprietor of James Holmes & Company, pork packers and provision dealers, located at the corner of First and Market Streets in Pittsburgh. By 1860, Holmes had moved to Colonade Row on Federal Street in Allegheny. William B. Holmes, James Holmes’ brother and former business partner, had become president of the Mechanic’s National Bank and still lived at 96 Penn Avenue.
The 1860 manuscript census reported that James and Letitia Holmes lived in Allegheny in a household headed by Letitia Caldwell. Letitia Caldwell, 62, had been born in Pennsylvania and had no occupation. She owned no real estate and had a “personal estate” of $400. William Caldwell, 30, worked in a boat store. Charles Caldwell, 21, was a clerk. Kate Caldwell, 17, and Nelly Caldwell, 13, did not work.
The census reported that James Holmes, 40, had been born in Pennsylvania and had no occupation. Letitia Holmes, 35, also had no occupation. Neither James or Letitia Holmes owned real estate or had a personal estate.
The family’s servants were Catherine Creadiel, 23, and Lizzie Creadiel, 17, both born in Germany.
Pittsburgh city directories listed James Holmes at 18 South Commons in Allegheny through 1862. On May 17, 1862, the Pittsburgh Gazette reported:
DIED: HOLMES – On Friday morning, at 1 1/2 o’clock, Mr. James Holmes, in, the 47th year of his age.
His funeral will take place TO-DAY (Saturday) at 4 o’clock p.m., from his late residence, South Commons, Allegheny City. The friends of the family are invited to attend.
The Pittsburgh Daily Dispatch reported the same information on James Holmes.
Letitia Holmes was listed as the widow of James Holmes and living at 64 Union Avenue in Allegheny beginning in 1863. Letitia Holmes was listed at 31 Federal Street from 1865 to 1867. She did not appear in the directory again until 1876, when she was listed as the widow of James Holmes and living at 48 Irwin Avenue. The 1870 census did not enumerate Letitia Holmes in Allegheny or Pittsburgh.
Letitia Holmes’ brother William Caldwell was listed at 31 Federal Street between 1863 and 1869. William Caldwell next appeared in the city directory in 1871, when he was listed as president of the Monongahela Insurance Company and living at 48 Irwin Avenue.
The 1870 manuscript census apparently enumerated William A. Caldwell in Allegheny’s First Ward with other family members. Caldwell, whose age was given as 35, worked as president of a fire insurance company. The census, which gave Caldwell’s name as William F. Caldwell, indicated that he owned no real estate and had a “personal estate” of $5000.
Living with William A. Caldwell in 1870 were Louisa (sic) Caldwell, 79, who had no occupation, Agnes Caldwell, 30, who kept house, Kate Caldwell, 27, “at home,” and two servants. The Caldwells’ servants were Elizabeth Alexander,
28, and Elizabeth Fay, 19.
The census reported that all residents of the Caldwell home had been born in Pennsylvania.
Neither the 1870 census or the 1870 city directory indicated William A. Caldwell’s residence. However, the 1870 manuscript census enumerated the Caldwell family near families living at 126, 128, and 130 Robinson Street in Allegheny.
1870 to 1914
Pittsburgh city directories listed Letitia Holmes as the widow of James Holmes and living at 48 Irwin Avenue in 1876 and in most subsequent years. City directories never indicated that Letitia Holmes had an occupation.
In 1880, the census enumerated Letitia Holmes, 44, living at 48 Irwin Avenue with other family members and servants. The census reported that Letitia Holmes was a widow who had no occupation. Her brother William A. Caldwell, 60, was listed as the head of the household.
In 1880, the census reported that William A. Caldwell was single and was president of a fire insurance company. Letitia Holmes’ daughter Letitia C., 18, was a student. Asister, Agnes Caldwell, 65 (sic), also lived at 48 Irwin Avenue. Agnes Caldwell was single and had no occupation.
Servants who lived at 48 Irwin Avenue in 1880 were Sarah Campbell, 26, Maggie Coll, 26, and Maggie McCue, all born in Ireland, and William Remensnyder, 13, who had been born in Pennsylvania to parents born in Germany and Pennsylvania.
On March 19, 1886, the Pittsburgh Gazette reported on the wedding of Letitia Caldwell Holmes’ daughter Letitia C. Holmes and George P. Hamilton Jr. at 48 Irwin Avenue. Hamilton, an attorney, had previously lived at 187 Ridge Avenue. His father, George P. Hamilton, was also a prominent attorney. The Hamiltons’ daughter Elizabeth was born in 1887.
City directories listed George P. Hamilton Jr. at 48 Irwin Avenue beginning in 1887. George and Letitia Hamilton lived at 48 Irwin Avenue until Letitia Hamilton’s death on October 5, 1898. George P. Hamilton Jr. continued to live at 48 Irwin Avenue until his death on August 15, 1901.
In 1886, The Social Mirror, a book about wealthy and accomplished women of Pittsburgh and Allegheny County, estimated Letitia Holmes’ fortune at $500,000 or more. The book also estimated Letitia Holmes Hamilton’s worth at $200,000.
The 1890 census, which would provide information on Letitia Holmes and other residents of 719 Brighton Road in that year, was destroyed in a fire after its completion.
Neither the censuses of 1870, 1880, and 1900, or biographical information on William A. Caldwell indicate that Caldwell was ever married or had a child. However, a photograph album dated Christmas 1886 and inscribed “To William A. Caldwell Sr. from William A. Caldwell Jr.” suggests Caldwell had a son.
An index of local deaths during the 1800’s and early 1900’s also provides no information on William A. Caldwell Jr.
The 1900 manuscript census reported that William A. Caldwell was the head of the household living at 719 Brighton Road. Caldwell, 76, was reported to be single and president of an insurance company. Letitia Holmes, 70, was a widow who had had three children. None of her children were alive at the time of the census.
George P. Hamilton Jr., 38, a nephew, was a widower and a lawyer. His daughter Elizabeth Hamilton, 13, attended school.
Five servants lived at 719 Brighton Road in 1900. They were Malinda L. Lieb, 25, Margaret Higgins, 47, Annie McCarthy, 23, Annie M. O’Hare, 30, and Ellen Mulligan, 24.
Malinda L. Lieb, a cook, had been born in Ohio and was of German descent. Margaret Higgins, a nurse, had been born in Vermont to parents born in Ireland. Annie McCarthy, a waitress, had been born in Ireland, and immigrated to the United States in 1894. Annie M. O’Hare, a chambermaid, had been born in Ireland and immigrated in 1896. Ellen Mulligan, a chambermaid, had been born in Pennsylvania to parents born in Ireland.
The census also reported that all adult residents of 719 Brighton Road were able to read and write, and that no employed residents of 719 Brighton Road had been unemployed during the previous year.
The 1910 manuscript census shows that Letitia Holmes, 75, lived at 719 Brighton Road with her granddaughter Elizabeth Hamilton, 23, and four servants. The census indicated that Letitia Holmes had had three children, and that none of her children were alive. The occupation of Elizabeth Hamilton was given as “own income.”
In 1910, servants living at 719 Irwin Avenue were Anne O’Hare, Anne Sweeney, Nora Cook, and Margaret Miller.
Anne O’Hare, 40, was a childless widow who had been born in Ireland and immigrated in 1882. Anne Sweeney, 19, was single and a native of Ireland, and had immigrated in 1904. Nora Cook, 40, was a childless widow who had been born in Ireland and immigrated in 1886. Margaret Miller, 23, was single and had been born in Pennsylvania.
In 1910, all residents of 719 Brighton Road except Anne O’Hare were able to read and write English.
City directories listed Letitia Holmes at 719 Irwin Avenue through 1913, the year before her death on March 1, 1914.
1914 to the Present
Letitia Holmes’ granddaughter Elizabeth Hamilton married Percy E. Donner during the early 1910’s. Neither Allegheny County marriage license applications or listings of newspaper wedding announcements provide information on this wedding.
Percy E. Donner was born in Indiana on November 18, 1878. As a young man, Donner began working for the newly formed United States Steel Corporation, managing the company’s Monessen, Pennsylvania mill. Subsequently, Donner was involved with the Pittsburgh Air Brake Company and Monessen real estate activities.
A 1900 rendering of Monessen shows that one of Monessen’s streets was named Donner Avenue.
Directories of the early 1900’s show that Percy E. Donner lived on Morewood Avenue near Fifth Avenue in Shadyside between 1905 and 1908. Donner maintained offices in the Frick Building in 1905, in the Frick Building Annex in 1907, and in the Union Bank Building in 1910.
Percy E. Donner was first listed at 719 Irwin Avenue in 1911, when he was a partner in Donner, Childs and Woods, brokers, located on the second floor of the Union Bank building. Donner’s partners were Clinton L. Childs of 653 Morewood Avenue and Charles W. Woods of 816 Ivy Street, both in Shadyside.
Following Letitia Holmes’ death, directories listed Percy Donner at 719 Irwin Avenue through 1921. Donner was listed as president of the Pittsburgh Power Reverse Gear Company in the late 1910’s and early 1920’s, and as secretary-treasurer of the Pittsburgh Air Brake Company in the late 1910’s.
The 1920 manuscript census, which should provide information on residents of 719 Brighton Road in that year, will be available to the public later in 1992. Census records are sealed for 72 years to ensure confidentiality.
Percy and Elizabeth Donner moved to Edgeworth by 1923, the year that Elizabeth Donner sold 719 Brighton Road to the Holmes Hall for Boys. Percy Donner died in 1926.
Elizabeth Donner lived in Sewickley until shortly before her death in 1968. The Donners had a daughter, Letitia Caldwell Donner, who died at age five, and a son, Frederick H. Donner, born in about 1920, who is a resident of Sewickley and Delray Beach, Florida.