The Dance of Death
Presented by Kinetic Theatre
April 19 – 26 | Wednesday – Saturday 8PM & Sunday 2 PM
A Dark Comedy
Meet Edgar and Alice, a witty, long-married couple. Married perhaps 25 years too long, this career military man and his grand dame of a former stage actress wife reside in a former prison on a remote island off the Swedish coast. Rarely seen live, The Dance of Death is a caustic, hilarious dark comedy. Kinetic Theatre’s Pittsburgh premiere production stars Sam Tsoutsouvas and Helena Ruoti, each in the role of this or any other lifetime, with Mark Staley as Kurt, the long-suffering soul who sets them up.
Thanks to the generous support of the Buhl Foundation, Northside residents are invited to attend The Dance of Death for free. A limited number of tickets are available online. Reserve your seat today!
April 19 at 2:00 pm April 22 at 8:00 pm April 23 at 8:00 pm
April 24 at 8:00 pm April 25 at 8:00 pm April 26 at 2:00 pm
Theodore H. Nevin and his brother-in-law, John Irwin Jr., had the row of houses at 850-858 North Lincoln Avenue built between 1872 and 1873. The houses were built on property that Nevin and other Allegheny City businessmen had purchased in 1861, for $1700. The houses show the Second Empire style in their mansard roofs, arched window openings, and projecting front door surrounds and window hoods. The Second Empire style was popular in the Pittsburgh area between about 1870 and 1885.
John Irwin Jr. conveyed his one-third interest in the row of houses to Theodore H. Nevin in 1874. Nevin and another family member owned 852 North Lincoln Avenue until 1921, renting the property to tenants. Nevin lived in Sewickley, and was a partner in the Pioneer Paint Works at the corner of Western and Galveston avenues in Allegheny West. He was also president of the First National Bank of Allegheny and was a trustee of the Western Theological Seminary in Allegheny City.
The first occupants of 852 North Lincoln Avenue who are known today were Thomas B. and W.S. Updike, who rented the house in 1873. Thomas B. Updike was a cashier, and W.S. Updike was a clerk. The next occupants, a family headed by Rev. Reese F. and Mary Alsop, lived there between about 1874 and 1880. Rev. Alsop was the rector of St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church on Ninth Street, Downtown. At the time of the 1880 census, the Alsops employed two servants who lived in their home.
Other early occupants of the house included Benjamin B. Warfield, a Western Theological Seminary professor, Rev. John Fox of the North Presbyterian Church at North Lincoln and Galveston avenues, and their families. John M. Davidson, the manager of the William B. Scaife & Sons foundry, his brother-in-law, David F.H. McDowell, the owner of a machinery company, and other members of the Davidson family lived there between about 1897 and 1906. Albert F. and E. Essie Steigleder began renting 852 North Lincoln Avenue by 1910, and became the first owner-occupants of the house in 1921.
The house at 852 North Lincoln Avenue has now had a total of eight owners. Detailed information on the history of the house is contained in the following report.
- November 26, 1861
- August 28, 1863
- July 1, 1870
- July 7, 1874
- October 19, 1882
- March 18, 1921
- April 21, 1931
- August 2, 1945
- October 7, 1965
- August 15, 1977
- January 10, 1980
- September 30, 2016
John and Abigail Irwin of Allegheny City (now the Northside) conveyed property in the First Ward of Allegheny City to Theodore H. Nevin, Robert P. Nevin and Samuel M. Finley, all of Allegheny County, for $1,700. The property was bounded by the northern side of Central Street (later Lincoln Avenue and Lynndale Avenue, now North Lincoln Avenue), the eastern side of Tremont Street (later Grant Avenue, now Galveston Avenue), the southern side of an unnamed 20’ wide alley (later Manilla Street, now Maolis Way) and a private lot line. The property measured 96’5.125” along Central Street and the unnamed alley and 140’9.575” along Tremont Street and the eastern lot line. The property was known as 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 conveyed their one-third interest in Lots 43, 44, 45 and 46 and other property on Western Avenue to John Irwin Jr. for $967.
(DBV 166 P 300)
Robert P. and Elizabeth D. Nevin of Sewickley conveyed their one-third interest in Lots 43, 44, 45 and 46 and other property on Western Avenue to Theodore H. Nevin of Sewickleyville (sic) for $20,000.
(DBV 290 P 268)
Martha Mary and John Irwin Jr. of Leet Township conveyed their one-third interest in Lots 43, 44, 45, and 46 to Theodore H. Nevin of Sewickley for $15,000. With this deed, Theodore H. Nevin held full title to the property.
(DBV 330 P 318)
Theodore H. Nevin died while owning 852 North Lincoln Avenue. In his will, dated October 19, 1882, he left the house to Mary Nevin (Allegheny County Will Book Volume 27, Page 325).
Mary Nevin Booth of Sewickley conveyed 852 North Lincoln Avenue to Albert F. Steigleder of Pittsburgh for $6500. The house occupied the lot on which it now stands, described as being located on the north side of North Lincoln Avenue, 57.5’ east of Galveston Avenue, and measuring 19.09’ wide along North Lincoln Avenue, 80.5’ along the east and west lot lines, and 19.19’ along the north (rear) lot line.
(DBV 2052 P 432)
Title to 852 North Lincoln Avenue was placed in the names of Albert F. and E. Essie Steigleder.
E. Essie Steigleder died on November 6, 1938.
(DBV 2436 P 2608)
Albert F. Steigleder of Pittsburgh conveyed 852 North Lincoln Avenue to Walter D. and Annabelle Shelton of Pittsburgh for $4500.
(DBV 2849 P 610)
Walter D. and Annabelle Shelton of Punto Gorda, Florida, conveyed 852 and 854 North Lincoln Avenue to Carl E. and Nancy P. Floyd of Pittsburgh for $22,500.
Carl E. Floyd died on December 30, 1974.
(DBV 4299 P 117)
Nancy R. Floyd of Pittsburgh conveyed 852 North Lincoln Avenue to Gerald W. and Michele F. McNerney of Pittsburgh for $15,000.
(DBV 5820 P 979)
Gerald W. and Michele F. McNerney conveyed 852 North Lincoln Avenue to John P. Wojtyna for $27,500.
(DBV 6212 P 311)
John P. Wojtyna conveyed 852 North Lincoln Avenue to 852 N. Lincoln LLC.
Age of the House
Local historical records indicate that Theodore H. Nevin and John Irwin Jr. had the row of party wall houses at 850-858 North Lincoln Avenue built between 1872 and 1873.
Theodore H. Nevin, Robert P. Nevin, and Samuel M. Finley purchased property that included the site of the five houses on November 26, 1861. Following transactions in 1863 and 1870, title to the site of the houses was held by Theodore H. Nevin (two thirds interest) and John Irwin Jr. (one third interest). The first plat map of the area, published in 1872, shows that the row of houses had not been built.
The 1873 Pittsburgh city directory listed residents of four of the five houses in the row. The directory listed Thomas B. Updike and W.S. Updike at 852 North Lincoln Avenue (then 55 Lincoln Avenue).
The next plat map of the area, published in 1882, depicts the five houses.
Theodore H. Nevin and John Irwin Jr. had 850-858 North Lincoln Avenue built in the Second Empire style.
Second Empire buildings were characterized by mansard roofs, by prominent door and window hoods or lintels, arched window openings, and sometimes by central towers. The Second Empire style was used in the construction of thousands of houses built for occupancy by middle-class and wealthy families in Pittsburgh neighborhoods between approximately 1870 and 1885. The style shares some features with the contemporaneous Italianate style, particularly when used in rowhouse settings, but is distinguished from the Italianate style by its use of a mansard roof.
Interior details of Second Empire and Italianate houses and commercial buildings usually 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 with diagonally mitered corners.
In Pittsburgh, many Second Empire and Italianate houses were built with stairways that incorporated landings located about three steps below the main level of the second floor. Most Second Empire houses and commercial buildings that were constructed before about 1880 featured two-over-two double-hung windows, although larger and more ornate examples were built with one-over-one windows. Houses built in the style after around 1880 were usually built with one-over-one windows.
Known records do not identify an architect who is credited with the design of 850-858 North Lincoln Avenue.
Street Name and Numbering
The house at 852 North Lincoln Avenue was originally known as 55 Lincoln Avenue. The house was re-numbered 852 in 1899, when Allegheny City government put in place the Northside’s modern street numbering system. Lincoln Avenue became Lynndale Avenue in about 1909, when Pittsburgh city government changed a number of street names to avoid duplication that resulted from Pittsburgh’s 1907 annexation of Allegheny City (now the North Side). The street was renamed North Lincoln Avenue in about 1913.
Through the Years
(Archives Service Center/University of Pittsburgh)
The First Owner
Pittsburgh city directories, U.S. census records, and biographical materials provide information on Theodore H. Nevin and his wife, Hannah Irwin Nevin. Thomas H. Nevin built the row of houses that include 852 N Lincoln Avenue with his brother-in-law in 1872.
Thomas B. Updike and W.S. Updike were listed at 852 North Lincoln Avenue (then 55 Lincoln Avenue) in the 1873 Pittsburgh directory, and were apparently the house’s first occupants. The directory listed Thomas B. Updike as a cashier, and W.S. Updike as a clerk.
Members of the Alsop family lived at 852 North Lincoln Avenue between 1874 and 1880. Rev. Reese F. Alsop was the rector of Saint Andrew’s Episcopal Church on Ninth Street near the Allegheny River in Downtown Pittsburgh. Edward B. Alsop, probably his brother, was a clerk. He worked for Bissell & Company, a manufacturer of stoves, grates, and mantels, during at least part of the time that he lived in the house. Edward B. Alsop moved from 852 North Lincoln Avenue to Centre Avenue in the East End in the late 1870s.
The 1880 census was the first census taken following the construction of 852 North Lincoln Avenue. Census records list Reese F. Alsop, 30, as a preacher and the head of the household. He had been born in Indiana, like his parents. His wife, Mary, also 30, kept house. She had been born in Pennsylvania, like her parents. Maria Alsop, 70, Reese’s widowed mother, also lived in the house.
The Alsops employed two servants who lived at 852 North Lincoln Avenue in 1880. They were Margaret Dawson, 43, and Kate McElvay, 25. Both were Irish immigrants and unmarried.
Pittsburgh directories listed Benjamin B. Warfield at 852 North Lincoln Avenue in 1882 and 1883. Warfield was a professor at the Western Theological Seminary in Allegheny City. Occupants of the house between 1884 and 1886 are not known.
Rev. John Fox, the pastor of the North Presbyterian Church at North Lincoln and Galveston avenues, lived at 852 North Lincoln Avenue between 1887 and 1891. Records of the 1890 census, which would provide information on Fox and any other occupants of the house in that year, were destroyed in a warehouse fire in Washington D.C. in the 1920s.
Residents of the house in 1894 and 1895 were Benjamin G. Boggs, a clearing house clerk at 309 Market Street, Downtown, William J. Boggs, a drug clerk, and Thomas A. Allen of the Forest County Lumber Company, which had offices at 28 Seventh Avenue, Downtown.
Members of the Davidson family rented 852 North Lincoln Avenue between 1897 and 1906. John M. Davidson managed the William B. Scaife & Sons foundry at 221 First Avenue in Downtown Pittsburgh. His son, William L. Davidson, was a clerk. A brother-in-law, David F.H. McDowell, owned McDowell & Company, a machinery company with offices at 347 Fifth Avenue, Downtown, and also lived at 852 North Lincoln Avenue.
John M. Davidson was recorded in the 1900 census as a 51-year-old filter manufacturer and as the head of the household at 852 North Lincoln Avenue. His wife, Elizabeth A., 45, had no occupation. Both had been born in Pennsylvania, like their parents. The Davidsons had been married for 28 years and had two children, both of whom were still living at home. They were Joan, 22, and William L., 21. David F.H. McDowell, 41, was enumerated as an iron merchant. He was unmarried.
David F.H. McDowell lived at 852 North Lincoln Avenue until 1903-04, when he moved to Bidwell Street in Manchester. The Davidson family lived in the house until 1906-07.
The 1910 Census
Albert F. and E. Essie Steigleder rented 852 North Lincoln Avenue at the time of the 1910 census, 11 years before they purchased the house from a member of the Nevin family.
Albert F. Steigleder, 46, was the treasurer of a brewery. He had been born in Pennsylvania to German immigrant parents. E. Essie Steigleder, 48, had been born in Pennsylvania, like her parents. The couple had been married for three years, and had no children. Alwild Moore, 45, a sister of E. Essie, lived at 852 North Lincoln Avenue, as did Roy E. Moore, 15, who was one of her five children. Alwild Moore was a private nurse.
The Steigleders also shared their home with three lodgers in 1910. They were:
- Emma Snyder, 28, a public stenographer; she was unmarried and had been born in Pennsylvania, to parents born in Pennsylvania and Germany
- Anne Elliott, 25, a nurse working in a hospital; she had been born in Pennsylvania to Irish immigrant parents
- John McFarland, 72, a printer and widower; he had been born in Pennsylvania, like his parents.
The 1920 Census
Records of the 1920 census do not list any residents of 852 North Lincoln Avenue. The house was apparently either temporarily vacant or was skipped by the census taker.
The 1930 Census
Albert F. and E. Essie Steigleder owned and lived at 852 North Lincoln Avenue at the time of the 1930 census.
Albert F. Steigleder, 66, was the treasurer of a food products company. E. Essie Steigleder, 60, had no occupation. A seven-year-old named Robert Steigleder lived at 852 North Lincoln Avenue and was listed as a son of Albert and Essie.
The Steigleders supplemented Albert’s income by sharing their home with two lodgers, both unmarried.
Fanny Myers, 45, worked as an assistant buyer in a department store. She had been born in Pennsylvania, like her parents. Freda Kline, 36, was a typist with a typewriter company. She had been born in New York State, to parents born in New York State and Pennsylvania.
In 1930, 852 North Lincoln Avenue had an estimated value of $8000.
The 1940 Census
In 1940, Margaret Roseman and Guy and Betty Lizito rented apartments at 852 North Lincoln Avenue.
Margaret Roseman, 66, rented for $30 per month. She was a widow with no occupation, and received income other than from salary or wages. She was a Pennsylvania native and had completed two years of high school. She shared her apartment with her son, Neal, 23, who worked as a timekeeper for a railroad. Neal had been born in Illinois, was unmarried, and had completed three years of high school. In 1939, he had worked 44 weeks and earned $960.
Guy and Betty Lizito rented for $33 per month. Guy, 34, was a self-employed barber. He had been born in Italy and had completed three years of high school. The census did not record his 1939 income. Betty, 32, had been born in Pennsylvania and had a fift h grade education. She did not work outside the home. The couple had one child, Anthony, who was 13 years old.
The 1940 census is the last census that provides information on occupants of 852 North Lincoln Avenue. Manuscript census records are withheld from public view for 72 years, to protect the privacy of persons who were enumerated.
The following materials accompany this report:
- copies of maps from 1872, 1882 and 1906 of the area around 852 North Lincoln Avenue
- copies of parts of fire insurance maps of the area around 852 N Lincoln Avenue, published in 1884, 1893 and 1906
- real estate plat maps from 1882, 1901, 1907 and 1925 showing the area around 852 North Lincoln Avenue
- the obituary of Theodore H. Nevin, from the Pittsburgh Commercial Gazette, May 1, 1884
A Researched History
By: Carol J. Peterson
all photos by Chris Siewers, unless otherwise noted
Tuesday, April 14, 2015
6:00 pm — 7:30 pm
When one ponders the historical industrial might of Western Pennsylvania, our thoughts often turn to the image of the flaming furnaces of the Monongahela Valley. Yet, in many respects, the Allegheny valley was Pittsburgh’s original valley of industry. In this lecture, we explore, the history of the railroad, through a photographic journey, noting the important strides made by the metals, oil, and manufacturing enterprises historically located in the Allegheny Valley during its era of growth.
About the presenter: Ken Kobus, a retired third-generation steelworker with almost 45 years of service in mostly local mills, is the author of three books and several articles on the Pennsylvania Railroad in Pittsburgh, and the region’s steel industry. He has made numerous presentations about railroads and his photos have been donated to the University of Pittsburgh’s Archive Service Center, a sampling of which can be viewed on the Historic Pittsburgh website. A graduate of the University of Pittsburgh (Mechanical Engineering), he is a longtime member of PHLF.
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
The firm was located at 541-551 Third Avenue, Downtown. It was a partnership of Adam Wilson of 318 North Neville Street, Oakland, J. Charles Wilson of 320 N Neville Street, and W.P. Clyde of 147 Auburn Street in East Liberty.
A & S Wilson built houses and other buildings for a number of Pittsburgh’s manufacturing and social elite in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Work by the firm in Allegheny West included the construction of a large carriage house at 705 Brighton Road.
Other work by A & S Wilson included construction of:
- Downtown: the headquarters of the Jones & Laughlin Steel Company at 200 Ross Street
- Squirrel Hill: houses at 1130 Shady Avenue and 1405, 1415, and 1427 Squirrel Hill Avenue
- Shadyside: the Spencer House at 719 Amberson Avenue; houses at 5131 Ellsworth Avenue,
653 Morewood Avenue, 5131 Pembroke Place, and 512-514 Shady Avenue; and a carriage
house at 400 Devonshire Street
- Highland Park: a house at 5655 Stanton Avenue
William Ross Proctor was born April 5, 1863 in New York City. He was one of three children of William Fash Proctor (1826-1902) and Vouletti Theresa Singer (1840-1913). His siblings were Charles Edward and Ada Olive. His mother was one of the children of Isaac Merritt Singer (1811-75), founder of the Singer Sewing Machine Company.
Proctor graduated from the Columbia College School of Mines in 1884 with an engineering degree and moved to Pittsburgh in December of the same year. Shortly thereafter, he began the practice of architecture and also met Elizabeth Singer to whom he was married June 9, 1886. The wedding took place in the grand Allegheny home of the bride’s parents, William Henry and Hester Laird Singer.
While little has been written about Proctor’s architecture career, he appears to have had a successful practice. Research suggests that he was adept in an eclectic array of building types, including residential, commercial, ecclesiastical and public works. He was also skilled in the design of ornamental iron and bronze architectural elements. More than once he beat out a number of more prominent architects for important commissions, including the North Presbyterian Church (1896) and Western Pennsylvania Hospital (1897, unbuilt). The former once stood a block from the Willock House on the southeast corner of Lincoln and Galveston Streets. Other important designs include The Stevenson Building in East Liberty and the Pumping Station on the Allegheny River (off Freeport Road near the Waterworks Mall).
Proctor lived in Allegheny near many of his wealthy clients at 934 Ridge Avenue. For a time he had partners in his practice, with certain commissions being attributed to Proctor & Wass and others to Proctor, Wass & Tufts. For a time, he was also associated with Thorsten E. Billquist, who designed the Allegheny Observatory (1900). Proctor is known to have had offices at various times in the Hamilton Building, the Stevenson Building and at 341 Sixth Avenue.
After his father’s death in 1902, Proctor retired from the architecture profession to take charge of the family estate in New York. He later became a stock broker and special partner in the New York Stock Exchange firm of Barbour & Co. In 1915 he became a special partner in the firm Abbott, Hoppin & Co.
He held memberships in over thirty clubs and societies, among which were the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Architectural League of New York, the Union League Club, the Society of Colonial Wars in the United States and the New England Genealogical Society. He was Vice President of the New York Genealogical and Biographical Society where he was instrumental in overseeing the construction of their new building in 1929. He died at Harbor Hospital in New York on February 6, 1930 from pneumonia.
For more detailed biographical information about William Ross Proctor, including family trees and historic photographs, see sandpond.org (the source of much of the biographical information above).
William Walter Willock was born in Allegheny City (now the North Side of Pittsburgh) on March 9, 1863. He was one of at least four children of John S. Willock, a coal merchant, and Josephine Hays Willock, born in Pennsylvania to American-born parents. When William W. Willock was born, his family lived in a house that John and Josephine Willock owned at 73 Isabella Street in Allegheny City. The Willock home was near the present site of the Andy Warhol Museum, and was directly across a narrow alley from the Eagle Cotton Mills, which occupied an entire city block.
In 1873-1874, the Willock family moved from Isabella Street to 905 (then 44) Beech Avenue in what is now Allegheny West. The family’s move was part of a post-Civil War movement of middle-class and wealthy families from neighborhoods with commercial and industrial components, such as Downtown Pittsburgh and lower Allegheny City, to neighborhoods or streets that were at least generally residential. William W. Willock lived at 905 Beech Avenue until he was married.
William Willock, according to his obituary, attended Allegheny City public schools, the Chester Military Academy (predecessor of Widener University in Chester, Pennsylvania), and the Western University of Pennsylvania (predecessor of the University of Pittsburgh). In the early 1880s, Willock began working for the Third National Bank of Pittsburgh on Wood Street at Virgin Way, Downtown, as a messenger. He advanced to a position as a clerk in about 1884 and held that job for over a decade.
On April 16, 1889, William Willock, 26, married Alice B. Jones, 23. Alice Jones was born on April 18, 1866 in Downtown Pittsburgh. Her parents were Benjamin Franklin Jones, a prominent iron and steel manufacturer, and Mary McMasters Jones. B.F. Jones was a founder of Jones & Laughlin (later the Jones & Laughlin Steel Company; later the Jones & Laughlin Steel Corporation), which operated iron and steel mills in and near Pittsburgh. During approximately the last three decades of the nineteenth century and the early twentieth century, the Jones family lived in a mansion at the northwestern corner of Brighton and North Lincoln Avenues.
William and Alice Jones Willock lived with the Jones family for approximately the first four years after they were married. Their first child, Franklin Jones Willock, was born in January 1891. The Willocks moved from the Jones residence to their newly constructed house at 705 Brighton Road in 1892 or 1893.
William Willock worked as a clerk until about 1894, when he became the general manager of the Monongahela Connecting Railroad. The Monongahela Connecting Railroad was a subsidiary of the Jones & Laughlin Steel Company, and was headquartered in the parent company’s offices at Third Avenue and Try Street, Downtown. The railroad crossed the Monongahela River on the Hot Metal Bridge near South 29th Street, connecting Jones & Laughlin’s Soho Iron Works and its Hazelwood operations on the northern side of the river with its American Iron and Steel Works on the South Side.
William W. Willock (far right. courtesy University of Pittsburgh)
William W. Willock Jr., the Willocks’ second and last child, was born in the early 1900s.
William Willock was the general manager of the Monongahela Connecting Railroad until 1901, when he became its vice president. He joined the board of directors of the Jones & Laughlin Steel Company in 1902.
The Willocks became the owners of a summer home, Gladmore Farm in Sewickley Heights, in about 1901. In about 1905, they began using Gladmore Farm as their primary residence. The Willocks continued to own 705 Brighton Road.
A 1912 social directory listed three addresses for the Willocks: their Pittsburgh residence at 705 Brighton Road, their summer home at Gladmore Farm and a winter home called Billswood on Forest Avenue in Lakewood, New Jersey. Although the 1912 social directory listed 705 Brighton Road as the family’s first address, Pittsburgh and Sewickley directories published after 1906 consistently listed William Willock’s home as Sewickley Heights. Willock was listed in Pittsburgh directories sporadically after 1910, suggesting that he may have been semi-retired or that he spent much of his time at the family’s Lakewood, New Jersey home. The Willocks later had a second home at 998 Fifth Avenue in Manhattan and a summer home in Syosset, Long Island.
The Willock family began to rent 705 Irwin Avenue to tenants at some point between 1912 and 1919. Their first known tenants at 705 Brighton Road were Charles F. Patterson, an attorney, and his family. The house remained a single-family home through at least 1923. It became a rooming house by 1927-1928, when the Willocks rented it to Anna E. Barbe, an established North Side rooming house operator. Anna Barbe lived at 705 Brighton Road and used the property as a rooming house until the early 1940s. Pittsburgh directories show that William Willock maintained an office in room 1926 of the Oliver Building, Downtown, in the 1920s and 1930s.
William Willock served on the board of directors of the Jones & Laughlin Steel Corporation until he died on March 8, 1939. Willock died at age 76 in Syosset, Long Island, at or near his summer home there.
Alice Jones Willock survived her husband by less than three months. She died on May 30, 1939, at age 73. Her executors sold 705 Brighton Road in 1944.
Pittsburgh iron and steel manufacturer B.F. Jones commissioned construction of 705 Brighton Road in 1892 or 1893 as a home for his son-in-law and daughter, William W. and Alice Jones Willock. The house was built in the Chateauesque style. It took the place of an earlier house that had stood on the lot since the late 1850s or 1860s. A three-story brick stable was constructed at the rear of the property in 1898.
William and Alice Jones Willock began living at 705 Brighton Road after construction was completed in 1892-1893. In 1894, B.F. Jones transferred title to the new house to the Willocks. The couple lived at 705 Brighton Road for more than a decade, and owned the house until they died in 1939.
William W. Willock was a clerk when he began living at 705 Brighton Road. In about 1894, Willock became the manager of the Monongahela Connecting Railroad, a subsidiary of the Jones & Laughlin Steel Company, in which his father-in-law was a founding partner. Willock became vice-president of the railroad in 1901. He joined the board of directors of Jones & Laughlin in 1902, and remained on the board for the rest of his life.
William and Alice Willock had two children: Franklin Jones Willock and William Willock Jr. Records of the 1900 census show that the family employed five servants who lived at 705 Brighton Road. In addition, two coachmen lived in the stable at the rear of the property. In the early twentieth century, the Willock family moved their primary residence from 705 Brighton Road to Gladmore Farm in Sewickley Heights. The family had a house in Lakewood, New Jersey, and later maintained homes in Manhattan and in Syosset, Long Island. At some point in or before the late 1910s, the Willocks began to use 705 Brighton Road as a single-family rental property. The house became a rooming house in the 1920s. It remained a rooming house throughout the Willock ownership of the property, which ended in 1944.
Detailed information on the history of 705 Brighton Road is contained in the following report.
- June 11, 1858
- October 7, 1867
- February 16, 1882
- May 29, 1889
- January 20, 1891
- May 29, 1894
- May 30, 1939
- August 16, 1944
- May 12, 1953
- August 1, 1956
- July 20, 1970
- October 29, 1980
- November 15, 1983
John and Abigail Irwin of Allegheny City conveyed property that included the present site of 705 Brighton Road to Samuel P. Shriver of Allegheny City for $5250. The property that was conveyed was located at the northwestern corner of Ridge Avenue and Brighton Road (then Irwin Avenue). The property measured 75′ wide along Brighton Road by 198′ deep along Ridge Avenue to Rope Way. It was known as Lots 1, 2, and 3 in John Irwin’s Rope Walk Plan.
(Deed Book Volume 139, Page 366)
Samuel P. and Rachel D. Shriver of Allegheny City conveyed the present site of 705 Brighton Road to Thomas Dawson of Allegheny City for $8000. The lot that was conveyed measured 25′ wide along Brighton Road by 198′ deep to Rope Way. The lot was known as Lot 3 in John Irwin’s Rope Walk Plan.
(DBV 224 P 245)
Thomas and Eliza Dawson of the borough of West Bellevue conveyed the present site of 705 Brighton Road to Mrs. Nettie McKee Graham of Allegheny City for $16,000. The lot that was conveyed measured 25′ wide along Brighton Road by 198′ deep to Rope Way. The lot contained an earlier house that occupied part of the present site of 705 Brighton Road.
(DBV 441 P 13)
James C. and Nettie McKee Graham of Allegheny County conveyed title to the present site of 705 Brighton Road to the Fidelity Title and Trust Company and Christopher L. Magee, as trustees. The lot that was conveyed measured 25′ wide along Brighton Road by 198′ deep to Rope Way. The lot contained an earlier house that occupied part of the present site of 705 Brighton Road.
(DBV 646 P 470)
The Fidelity Title and Trust Company and Christopher L. Magee, as trustees for Nettie McKee Graham, widow, of Allegheny City, conveyed the present site of 705 Brighton Road to Benjamin F. Jones of Allegheny City for $23,500. This deed and subsequent deeds conveyed an irregularly shaped lot that consisted of all of Lot 3 and part of Lot 2 in John Irwin’s Rope Walk Plan. The lot was described as beginning on the western side of Irwin Avenue (now Brighton Road), 50′ north of Ridge Avenue, and running west 40.35′; south toward Ridge Avenue 4.33″; west along a line almost parallel with Ridge Avenue, 95.5′; north 4.75″; west along a line parallel with Ridge Avenue 62.60′ to Rope Way; north 25′ along Rope Way; east, along a line parallel with Ridge Avenue, 198′ to Brighton Road; and south along Brighton Road 25′ to the place of beginning. The lot contained an earlier house that occupied part of the present site of 705 Brighton Road.
(DBV 728 P 504)
Benjamin F. and Mary McM. Jones of Allegheny City conveyed 705 Brighton Road (then known as 45 Irwin Avenue) to Alice Jones Willock, their daughter, of Allegheny City, for $1.
(DBV 883 P 2)
Alice Jones Willock died on May 30, 1939. In her will she left her residuary estate to William W. Willock, her husband, and William W. Willock Jr., Dickson C. Shaw Jr. and the Union National Bank, as executors and trustees. William W. Willock predeceased Alice Jones Willock on March 8, 1939. William W. Willock Jr. renounced his right to act as executor and trustee, leaving Dickson C. Shaw Jr. and the Union National Bank as executors and trustees.
Dickson C. Shaw Jr. and the Union National Bank of Pittsburgh, executors and trustees under the will of Alice Jones Willock, conveyed 705 Brighton Road to Annie L. Brooks of Pittsburgh for $10,000.
(DBV 2804 P 522)
Annie L. Brooks died on May 12, 1953. She left all of her estate to Gloria Colleen Brooks.
Gloria Colleen Brooks (also known as Gloria Brooks Compliment, also known as Gloria Brooks Murray) and her husband, William Compliment (also known as William Murray) conveyed 705 Brighton Road to Muriel Brooks Jennings of Pittsburgh for $1.
(DBV 3639 P 205)
Muriel Brooks Jennings of Pittsburgh conveyed partinterest in 705 Brighton Road to Charles Brooks Jennings of Pittsburgh for $1.
(DBV 4858 P 369)
Charles Brooks and Nancy S. Jennings of Allegheny County conveyed the interest of Charles Brooks Jennings in 705 Brighton Road to Muriel Brooks Jennings for $1.
(DBV 6316 P 31)
Muriel Brooks Jennings of Allegheny County conveyed 705 Brighton Road to James V. Costa of Allegheny County for $51,800.
(DBV 6768 P 580)
Age of the House
B.F. Jones commissioned construction of 705 Brighton Road for his daughter and son-in-law, Alice Jones Willock and William W. Willock, in 1892 or 1893.
Plat maps of the area around 705 Brighton Road published in 1872 and 1890, and an 1884 fire insurance map, show that 705 Brighton Road had not yet been built. These maps show that an earlier house occupied the site of 705 Brighton Road. The earlier house had a smaller footprint than the present house on the property and was set back approximately 50′ from Brighton Road.
B.F. Jones, a Pittsburgh iron and steel manufacturer, purchased the property for $23,500 on January 20, 1891. The purchase price appears consistent with the size of the earlier house on the property.
An 1893 fire insurance map shows that 705 Brighton Road had been built. The 1893 Pittsburgh directory listed William W. Willock as living at 45 Irwin Avenue (now 705 Brighton Road) for the first time. William W. and Alice Jones Willock had previously lived with the Jones family at the northwest corner of Brighton Road and North Lincoln Avenue.
Allegheny City building permit dockets are available beginning in 1894, and therefore contain no information on construction of 705 Brighton Road.
The Architect: William Ross Proctor
B.F. Jones hired William Ross Proctor to design 705 Brighton Road. Proctor was a New York City native who married Elizabeth Singer, a member of a prominent Pittsburgh family who lived on Western Avenue in Allegheny West. In 1892, Proctor’s office was on Sixth Avenue in Downtown Pittsburgh. He and Elizabeth Singer Proctor lived at Western and Allegheny Avenues in Allegheny West.
The Contractor: A & S Wilson
B.F. Jones hired the firm of A&S Wilson to construct the carriage house at 705 Brighton Road. A&S Wilson was one of the most prominent contracting firms in Pittsburgh between the 1880s and the 1920s, and built houses for a number of families who were prominent in social and manufacturing circles.
Proctor designed 705 Brighton Road in the Chateauesque style. Architectural features of the house that are representative of the Chateauesque style include the house’s large size and masonry construction; its fairly steep roof; its complex roofline, with multiple dormers and chimneys, finials at roof crests and dormer peaks; and the round corner tower with a conical roof.
The Chateauesque style was used in the United States, particularly in the northeast and midwest, in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.
The style was generally limited to large houses built for wealthy families, and was therefore used much less frequently than contemporaneous styles such as Queen Anne and Colonial Revival. The best-known Chateauesque house in western Pennsylvania is probably Clayton at Penn and Homewood Avenues in Point Breeze, created in 1891-1892 for Henry Clay Frick as a remodeling and expansion of a smaller house.
Allegheny City building permit dockets show that on August 11, 1898, William W. Willock received a permit for construction of a three-story brick stable at what was then 45 Irwin Avenue. The building was to measure 25′ wide by 40′ deep. The 1900 census enumerated two coachmen living at 705 Rope Way. A 1906 fire insurance map also confirms that the stable had been built.
Comparable Construction Cost
The estimated construction cost of the stable at 705 Brighton Road was $4500. Costs of other buildings constructed in Allegheny City within a few years of 1898 included:
- 4017 Northminster Street, Brighton Heights, $3200 (1895)
- 3504 Perrysville Avenue, Observatory Hill, $3650 (1897)
- 1235 Page Street, Manchester, $5000 (1898)
- 1623 Rhine Street, Spring Hill, $5000 (1897)
- 930 W North Avenue, Allegheny West, $5317 (1895)<
- 2014 Osgood Street, Fineview, $5400 (1894)
- 3344 Perrysville Avenue, Observatory Hill, $8400 (1896)
- 940 W North Avenue, Allegheny West, $10,000 (1895)
- 920 N Lincoln Avenue, Allegheny West, $35,500 (1903)
- The Byers-Lyons House at 901 Ridge Avenue, $80,000 (1898)
The Home Today
Photos by Sara Sweeney and Nick Smerker
William W. and Alice Jones Willock owned 705 Brighton Road between 1894 and 1944. Pittsburgh city directories, U.S. census records, biographical materials and obituaries provide information on William W. and Alice Jones Willock.
The 1900 Census
The 1900 census was the first census of population taken following construction of 705 Brighton Road. The census enumerated William Willock, 37, as a railroad manager. Alice Jones Willock, 33, had no occupation. Franklin Jones Willock, nine, attended school.
In 1900, according to census records, the Willock family employed five household staff persons who lived at 705 Brighton Road. They were:
- Juliane W. Ficke, 37, a cook. She was born in Norway to parents born in Germany and
Norway, and came to the United States in 1890
- James W. Neale, 40, a butler. He had immigrated from England in 1899
- Marie Carney, 23, a laundress who had come to the United States from Ireland in 1897
- Winnie McBride, 18, a chambermaid. She was born in Ireland, and immigrated in 1897
- Hannah Hastings, 30, a nurse, born in West Virginia to parents born in West Virginia and
The family also employed two coachmen who lived in their recently constructed stable along Rope Way, at the rear of the property. Frank Lamb, 34, was the older of the coachmen. He had been born in Scotland, and came to the United States in 1880. John Biggins, 27, had been born in Ohio to immigrants from England.
The 1910 Census
The 1910 census did not enumerate any residents of 705 Brighton Road, suggesting the possibility that the Willock family then used the house as a secondary residence.
The 1920 Census
In 1920, according to census records, 705 Brighton Road was rented to attorney Charles Forsyth Patterson and his family.
Charles F. Patterson, 46, had been born in New Jersey to parents born in Ohio and Pennsylvania. His wife, Elizabeth L., 36, had been born in Maryland. Her parents were born in New York State and Ohio.
The Pattersons had a daughter and son who lived at 705 Brighton Road in 1920. They were Forsyth, 16, and Charles L., 14.
Two servants lived with the Patterson family at 705 Brighton Road. They were Loretta Kenney, 26, who had immigrated from Ireland in 1913, and Jean Evans, 36, who had come to the United States from England in 1912. Both were single.
Pittsburgh directories indicate that Charles F. Patterson and his family lived at 705 Brighton Road between approximately 1919 and 1923. Patterson’s law office was on the eighth floor of the Frick Building Annex, Downtown, during that time. In about 1923, the Patterson family moved to Sewickley.
Residential development of Allegheny West began by the middle of the nineteenth century. An 1852 map shows that a number of houses stood on both sides of present Western Avenue between Brighton Road and Allegheny Avenue. A few buildings had been constructed along Brighton Road between Ridge and Western Avenues, on what was then the grounds of the Rope Walk.
This report was based on the original 2001 research by Carol Peterson. It was enhanced with additional research in 2014 by Pfaffmann + Associates. Their full report is available as a PDF download.
A Researched History
By: Carol J. Peterson
So I go to a lot of meetings (A LOT!). And, not that I would admit this out loud, but I kind of like them; it turns out that they’re a pretty good stand in for a social life1. Obviously the folks in the neighborhood are cool to hang out with – frankly you all make me laugh – and it’s a bonus that the meetings often end up being at some nifty local restaurant like Carmi’s or the Allegheny Sandwich Shoppe or sometimes lemon loaves or chocolate mousse just appear (seriously, you guys should be coming to these meetings: I’m not telling you which ones, you’ll just have to try for yourselves). It also turns out that there’s a ton of really interesting ideas that get talked about in these meetings: the Candidates Night on April 14th; potentially developing the Stables into swanky condos; mulch (so complicated!); train trips to West Virginia, etc…
One meeting really stood out this month, though. I went to a talk at the Allegheny YMCA given by Diana Brucco of the Buhl Foundation. Honestly it was mostly to see if I could get some tips on for resubmitting the Sprout Fund grant that had been rejected. (Turns out 2nd time was the charm and we can now put our knowledge of mulch to good use on Tree Well day, April 11th). I was stunned to discover that the survey, that I had sort of half-heartedly filled out last summer had, turned into a $60 million commitment over 10 years to all the neighborhoods on the Northside. Even us!
My own assumption before attending this talk was that programs from these grants weren’t really intended for “affluent Allegheny West2”. But the focus of Buhl Foundation’s work around education, quality of place and employment apply just as much to the folks in our little corner of the Northside as anywhere else. Frankly, if nothing else the folks in our neighborhood have a lot of expertise to offer to folks in other neighborhoods who are embarking on work similar to what was started here 20 years ago. But what really impressed me was the fundamentally practical way the Buhl folks have approached setting priorities and implementing solutions: ask me about the work they’re doing around food programs in schools – it’s super cool but too complicated for a newsletter article. They are definitely interested in hearing what we have to say. I left that talk not wanting to be left out of plans that have such an incredible amount of potential. And so of course, I’m doing what we always do when we’re excited about something: I’m setting up (yet) another meeting – this time with Buhl Foundation. Expect to hear a lot more about this!
- Feel free to remind me that I said I liked meetings when I’m getting grumpy two hours into any random meeting. I’ll probably roll my eyes at you (such a bad habit!) but you’ll know it’s just because it’s probably the 3rd night that week that I’m at a meeting – getting inspired all the time is exhausting!
- From this article. I’m not sure I entirely agree with that characterization. even if the stats say our average income is higher. It’s way more complicated than that.
Now that the folks are starting to venture out of the house after the Winter “blahs”, we’re starting to see an uptick in requests for AWCC to follow-up on issues like potholes, streetlights and parking. I figured this was a good time to remind people of strategies that have worked for us in the past when we’re trying to get some assistance from the City.
The first thing that any department we speak with asks us is a reference number for the 311 report that we should have already filed about the complaint. That means that it’s really important that when you call to make a report or when you make a report by email, make sure the operator gives a “Reference (sometimes called a Ticket) Number”. Generally we prefer that neighbors make the initial report since you’re the person with the most first-hand knowledge of the problem. If you’re not able to get the issue resolved, AWCC needs that 311 Reference Number to follow up. To make it easier to notify AWCC when you’ve filed a report and to keep track of reference numbers we set up the email address firstname.lastname@example.org which you can use in one of the optional cc’ sections in the online reporting.
For more information about 311 tracking, as well as direct links to the City 311 online reporting website go to our Government Resources page. Happy reporting!
Monthly Mixer for April will be something new, both time and place. On Monday, April 20th we will meet at Lola Bistrô on North Avenue at 6:30 pm. Because the restaurant is small the owners agreed to host us on a Monday when they are normally closed. We will order from the menu, dinner entrees or just appetizer or dessert. Lola Bistrô does not have a bar, we may bring our own wine. There will be a corkage charged.
May 15th the Mixer will be an Allegheny West Art Show and Party at 832 Western Avenue, 6:30 pm. Dennis Bergovin suggested having an art show featuring Allegheny West artists and their artist friends. Linda Iannotta offered to organize the food and everyone will bring their own beverage of choice. If you have art that you want to exhibit contact Dennis at (412) 323-0539 for details about submission. The rest of the neighborhood is invited to come, eat drink and enjoy the art.
May 25th will be the Memorial Day Block Party, first street party of the summer.
Mark your calendars, join the fun and get better acquainted with your neighbors.