Edward M. Butz was born in or near Allegheny City, possibly in the Troy Hill area, in 1850. Known records do not provide information on his parents or on his residence as a child. Butz was listed as an architect for the first time in the 1868 Pittsburgh directory, at age 18. Butz worked in an office on Sixth Street, Downtown, and lived in what was then Duquesne borough (in the vicinity of the present H J. Heinz plant).
In 1870, according to census records, Edward M. Butz and three of his siblings lived on Troy Hill with the family of John Snyder, a Swiss immigrant house painter. His siblings were Harry P. Butz, a coppersmith’s apprentice, John A., a sign painter’s apprentice and Roman J., 13, attending school.
The 1870 manuscript census, the last census to provide information on assets of persons enumerated, reported that Edward M. Butz owned no real estate and had no personal estate.
Butz’s architectural career appears to have flourished during the 1870s, when he designed a number of important buildings in Allegheny City, Pittsburgh, and elsewhere. Butz was not listed in the 1871 Pittsburgh directory, but by 1872 opened an office on lower Federal Street in Allegheny City. He and G.C. Monahan of North Taylor Avenue were partners in the firm of Monahan & Butz on Federal Street for a short time in 1872-1873. Butz began to work on his own in the same Federal Street office by 1874.
Most information on buildings designed by Butz is provided by three sources: an entry in Industries of Pittsburgh, 1879-1880, an entry in Pittsburgh’s Business Proclamation (1903), and Butz’s obituary.
Unfortunately, many of the buildings that Butz designed in Pittsburgh and Allegheny City have been demolished in various redevelopment projects. Buildings that Butz designed that are still standing include:
- 948-950 Beech Avenue
- 1207 Allegheny Avenue, Manchester, Butz’s residence between about 1877 and 1880
- the Western Penitentiary, Woods Run (1876-1882)
- the Clarion County Courthouse, Clarion, Pennsylvania (1870s)
- the Westmoreland County Courthouse, Greensburg
Butz claimed to have designed the Dollar Bank building (1868-71) on Fourth Avenue, Downtown, which is attributed to the Philadelphia firm of Isaac Hobbs & Sons. It is possible that Butz was employed by Hobbs for a short time in 1871, when he was not listed in the Pittsburgh directory.
It is interesting to note that by 1879, Butz designed Reineman’s Hotel (location unknown) in Pittsburgh for a member of the Reineman family. The Reineman family was prominent in the development of Troy Hill, the neighborhood in which Butz lived as a young man and possibly during his childhood. Documentation that Butz designed Reineman’s Hotel in the 1870s suggests that he may have designed other buildings for the Reineman family. The family was responsible for the construction of several large homes on Troy Hill, including a large and elaborate double Second Empire house built at 1515-1517 Lowrie Street in about 1875 for banker and real estate investor Adam Reineman.
Buildings by Butz in Allegheny City that have been demolished include the First National Bank and the C. Wattiey & Company furnishings store building, both on lower Federal Street; the C.C. Boyle lumber dealership at River Avenue and Sandusky Street; Trinity Lutheran Church, Stockton Avenue and Arch Street; Central Presbyterian Church at Lacock and Anderson Streets; a building for Western Theological Seminary, Ridge Avenue; and the Ridge Avenue homes of J.W. Dalzell, H. Sellers McKee, and D.M. Long. Buildings by Butz in Pittsburgh that no longer survive include the Seventh Avenue Hotel, downtown, and the Seventh United Presbyterian Church on 44th Street in Lawrenceville.
Butz married Mary A. Yeager of Allegheny City on December 28, 1876. Mary A. Yeager was born in Pittsburgh or Allegheny City in December 1856. She was a daughter of Christian Yeager, who owned a variety and dry goods store on Market Street, downtown. The Yeager family moved from Ninth Street, downtown, to Stockton Avenue in Allegheny City around the time that Mary A. Yeager was born. She lived on Stockton Avenue until she married.
In 1876, Edward M. Butz designed and commissioned construction of a large Second Empire house at 1207 Allegheny Avenue in Manchester (at the southwestern comer of Allegheny Avenue and Bidwell Street; now Duke’s Bar). He and Mary A. Butz began living at in the house after they were married. The couple had two children: Christian Yeager Butz, born in 1878, and another child whose name is not known. Christian Yeager Butz died in 1884, at age six, and the other child also died while young.
The Butz family lived at 1207 Allegheny Avenue until 1879 or 1880. The family resided in the Central Hotel in Allegheny City (in the present Allegheny Center Mall area) for a short time while 948-950 Beech Avenue was being built. They began living at 950 Beech Avenue in late 1880 or early 1881.
Edward M. Butz’s architectural office was still located on Federal Street when he lived at 950 Beech Avenue. Work with which Butz was associated while he lived in the house included the construction of the Western Penitentiary.
In 1883, Edward M. and Mary A. Butz sold 950 Beech Avenue and moved to 508 Pressley Street (demolished) in the East Allegheny neighborhood. The family lived on Sherman Avenue in the present Allegheny Center Mall area in 1884, and began living on Arch Street in the same neighborhood in about 1885. The family lived on Arch Street until about 1897.
Butz’s architectural office moved from Federal Street to 132 First Avenue, downtown, in 1886-1887. Butz became a partner in the architectural and engineering firm of Butz & Kauffman at 605 Smithfield Street a short time later. The firm’s other principal was William Kauffman of Buena Vista Street. The partnership dissolved in about 1891, and Butz returned to 132 First Avenue. In about 1893, his firm became known as E.M. Butz & Company, architects and engineers. Frederick A. Yeager, who was probably a brother of Mary A. Butz, was among its principals.
In the 1880s, Edward M. Butz was a founder of the Columbia Iron & Steel Company. The company’s headquarters was at 132 First Avenue, and it operated a mill in Uniontown. Butz’s younger brother, Roman J., was the company’s secretary.
E.M. Butz & Company moved to 236 First Avenue in about 1895, and to the 11th floor of the Park Building about a year later. In about 1897, Edward M. and Mary A. Butz moved from Arch Street in Allegheny City to Fremont Street in Bellevue.
Edward M. Butz lived on Fremont Street in Bellevue and ran E.M. Butz & Company until he retired in the 1910s. He and Mary A. Butz then moved to 1711 Termon Avenue in Brighton Heights. Butz died at home at 1711 Tennon Avenue on October 3, 1916, at age 66. His obituary incorrectly gave his age as 57. Earlier census records confirm that Butz was born in 1850.
Mary A. Butz outlived her husband by ten years. During part of the 1920’s, she worked at Joseph Horne’s in downtown Pittsburgh. She died on December 31, 1926, at age 70.