842 North Lincoln Avenue is a two story red brick house occupying an irregularly shaped lot located in the Allegheny West section of the city of Pittsburgh.
Robert Graham, an Irish-born rope maker, built 842 North Lincoln Avenue between 1862 and 1870. Before building 842 North Lincoln Avenue, Robert Graham worked as manager of John Irwin’s Rope Walk, an early rope manufactory that operated in Allegheny City between 1813 and 1858.
Robert Graham and his family lived at 840 North Lincoln Avenue during the time that the Graham family owned 842 North Lincoln Avenue. Among families to whom Graham rented 842 North Lincoln Avenue were those of Walter L. McClintock, a carpet dealer, Charles Y. Wheeler, a Hussey & Co. employee, William J. Wilkins, a civil engineer and Robert J. George, a minister.
Detailed information on the ownership history, age, first owner, and early occupants of 842 North Lincoln Avenue follows.
- August 19, 1862
- June 26, 1875
- February 28, 1917
- February 28, 1917
- May 29, 1925
- October 30, 1925
- October 30, 1925
- June 3, 1929
- April 25, 1930
- February 23, 1977
- September 27, 1978
- September 27, 1980
John and Abigail Irwin of Allegheny County to Mrs. Martha Graham of the city of Allegheny, $450. This deed conveyed a 24′ wide by 140’9.625″ deep lot located on Central Street (earlier Irwin Avenue, later Lincoln Avenue and Lynndale Avenue, now North Lincoln Avenue), 168’4.5″ east of the corner of Central Street and Tremont Street (later Grant Avenue, now Galveston Avenue). The lot was known as lot 50 in a Plan of Lots laid out by John Irwin, later recorded in Plan Book Volume 2, Page 173.
(Deed Book Volume 155, Page 535)
Robert and Martha Graham of the city of Allegheny to Miss Martha Jane Graham, $1.
(DBV 348 P 50)
Bernard B. McGinnis of the city of Pittsburgh to Martha J. Graham of the city of Pittsburgh, $500. This deed conveyed a 7.375″ wide by 69’6″ deep lot of ground located 12’6″ north of the northern side of Lynndale Avenue. The lot was part of Lot 51 in John Irwin’s Plan of Lots. With this conveyance, the lot on which 842 North Lincoln Avenue stands took on its present configuration.
(DBV 1890 P 72)
Martha J. Graham of the city of Pittsburgh to Margaret J. Dietch of the city of Pittsburgh, $4,850.
(DBV 1882 P 571)
Margaret J. and Conrad Dietch of the city of Pittsburgh to Harry R. and Alice J. Williams Seager of the city of Pittsburgh, $11,640.
(DBV 2248 P 424)
Harry R. and Alice J. Williams Seager of the city of Pittsburgh to John A. Sharp of the city of Pittsburgh, $11,000.
(DBV 2286 P 3)
John A. Sharp, widower, of the city of Pittsburgh to B.F. Jones Jr. Properties, Inc., a corporation located in the city of Pittsburgh, $1. The deed stated that John A. Sharp had taken title to the property as an agent for B.F. Jones Jr. Properties, Inc.
(DBV 2250 P 574)
B.F. Jones Jr. Properties, Inc., a corporation located in Pittsburgh, to Julius H. and Mollie C. Luebkert of the city of Pittsburgh, $9,500.
The deed stated that B.F. Jones III was the president of B.F. Jones Jr. Properties.
(DBV 2386 P 741)
Julius H. and Mollie C. Luebkert of the city of Pittsburgh to Daniel A. and Elizabeth M. McGeary of the city of Pittsburgh, $1 and other valuable considerations.
(DBV 2410 P 515)
William R. and Eileen Guyton, Elizabeth M. and Edward P. Bowman Sr., and Donald F. and Mildred McGeary to David S. Boesel, single, $23,000.
Daniel A. McGeary had died on November 17, 1968, and Elizabeth M. McGeary had died on May 8, 1974.
(DBV 5740 P 949)
David S. Boesel, single, to N.S. Andrews, single, $54,000.
(DBV 6009 P 815)
N.S. Andrews of Chicago, Illinois, to Michael L. and Eleanor A. Coleman of Allegheny County, $70,000.
(DBV 6296 P 477)
Age of the House
All available information indicates that Robert and Martha Graham had 842 North Lincoln Avenue built between late 1862 and early 1870.
The August 1862 sale of a 3379 square foot lot for $450, at 13 cents per square foot, indicates that the lot was undeveloped. Allegheny County mortgage records show that on May 4, 1870, recorded in Mortgage Book Volume 107, Page 3, Martha Graham borrowed $2275 from John Frazier, George G. Frazier, and William G. Frazier, “doing business as carpenters and contractors under the name and style of Frazier Brothers.” A notation in the mortgage’s margin indicated that the mortgage was satisfied on April 4, 1872.
Plat maps published in 1872 and 1890 show that 842 North Lincoln Avenue was known as 65 Lincoln Avenue.
The 1870 city directory and 1870 manuscript census indicate that 65 Lincoln Avenue was occupied by Walter L. McClintock. The directory first listed McClintock at 65 Lincoln Avenue in 1870.
Robert Graham apparently built 65 Lincoln Avenue as an investment. City directories listed Graham and his daughter Martha at 67 Lincoln Avenue (now 840 North Lincoln Avenue) between the 1860’s and the 1890’s.
Directories of the early 1870’s listed John Frazier and William G. Frazier as partners in Frazier Brothers, lumber dealers, located at Pennsylvania Avenue and Sedgwick Street in Manchester. Both lived at 68 Lincoln Avenue. Directories did not list George G. Frazier.
Allegheny County deed and mortgage directories of the 1800’s show that Frazier Brothers bought and sold many properties and borrowed and loaned money on many properties in the city of Allegheny and the borough of Manchester. Houses in Allegheny built by Frazier Brothers included 824830 Beech Avenue.
Frazier Brothers’ work as contractors, carpenters and lumber dealers suggests that they served as contractors for 842 North Lincoln Avenue.
Owner & Residents
Pittsburgh city directories, U.S. census records, an obituary, a will and other sources provide information on Robert and Martha Graham, the first owners of 842 North Lincoln Avenue.
The 1870 manuscript census indicates that Robert Graham rented 65 Lincoln Avenue to a family headed by Walter L. McClintock, a carpet dealer.
In 1870, the census did not indicate street addresses of individuals who were enumerated. However, the 1870 census enumerated Walter L. McClintock and his family between the families of Hugh Knox, of 63 Lincoln Avenue (now 844 North Lincoln Avenue) and Robert Graham. City directories of the early 1870’s list Walter L. McClintock at 65 Lincoln Avenue.
Walter L. McClintock, 29, lived at 65 Lincoln Avenue with his wife Mary G. McClintock, 27, their son, Evan G., two, a servant, Maggie Healy and Jennie Miller, 15, whose relationship to the McClintock family was not given.
The census reported that all members of the McClintock family and Jennie Miller had been born in Pennsylvania. Maggie Healy had been born in England. The census also showed that Walter L. McClintock owned no real estate and had a personal estate of $3,300.
City directories show that Walter L. McClintock was a partner in Oliver McClintock & Company, dealers in carpets, oil cloths and window shades at 23 Fifth Avenue, Pittsburgh.
In 1880, the census showed that the family of Charles Y. Wheeler lived at 65 Lincoln Avenue.
Charles Y. Wheeler, 37, had been born in Indiana and worked for Hussey & Company. His wife Sarah V., 35, had been born in Ohio and had no occupation. The Wheelers had four children living at 65 Lincoln Avenue: Charles V. , 14, Mary Y., 12 and Harry M., 10, all born in Ohio, and George Y., four, born in Iowa.
In 1880, the Wheeler family had one servant: Georgeana Savage, 19, who was single and had been born in Maryland.
In 1900, 842 Lincoln Avenue was rented to William G. Wilkins and his family.
William G. Wilkins, 46, was a civil engineer who had been born in Pennsylvania. His wife of 19 years, Sarah, 46, had been born in Vermont. William and Sarah Wilkins had no children. Their servant was Isabella Dewar, 28, who had been born in Scotland and immigrated in 1885.
In 1900, all residents of 842 North Lincoln Avenue were able to read and write.
The 1910 census indicated that Robert J. George and his family lived at 842 North Lincoln Avenue.
Robert J. George, 65, was a minister, and his wife Margaret, 70 had no occupation. Both had been born in Pennsylvania to parents also born in Pennsylvania.
In 1910, Robert J. and Margaret George had been married 41 years and had had five children, with four of their children alive at the time of the census. Two of their children still lived at home: Roy, 34, and Ruth, 29. Both had no occupation and had attended school during the previous year.
Also living at 842 North Lincoln Avenue in 1910 were Robert J. George’s sister Margaret A. Slater and niece Estell (sic) Slater. Margaret A. Slater, 61, was a widow who had had four children, with one child still living in 1910. Estell Slater, 31, was single. Both had been born in Pennsylvania.
In 1910, all residents of 842 North Lincoln Avenue were able to read and write.
The following materials accompany this report:
- a copy of part of an 1852 map depicting Allegheny City
- a copy of an 1872 plat map showing Allegheny West, including Irwin Avenue
- a copy of a 1910 plat map of part of the Northside, including Irwin Avenue
- a listing for the Scully family in the 1920 Pittsburgh Social Secretaire
- a description of the Walton sisters from the 1888 edition of The Social Mirror
- an article describing a dance held for Alice Walton Scully from the Pittsburgh Gazette Times, December 15, 1915
- a listing for The Crossways Shop, run by Ida Walton Scully, in the 1917 R.L. Polk & Co. Pittsburgh city directory
- a photo of Joseph Walton from the 1901 Notable Men of Pittsburgh and Vicinity
- the death notice of James W. Scully, from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, July 16, 1934
- the death notice of Ida Walton Scully, from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, October 11, 1951
- the death notice of Alice Walton Childs, from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, September 16, 1963
- the death notice of James H. Childs, from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, December 23, 1963
- the obituary of Rachel Mellon Walton, from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, March 4, 2006
- a story on the home’s inclusion in the Allegheny West Wine & Garden Tour from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, May 30, 2015
A Researched History
By: Carol J. Peterson
all photos by Chris Siewers, unless otherwise noted
Thomas Moore Lyons was born in Ohio in 1824, to parents who were born in Virginia. Nancy R. Lyons was born in Ohio in 1834-35; her parents were born in Pennsylvania and Ohio. Local records do not indicate when Thomas and Nancy Lyons were married or identify their residence and activities before they settled in Pittsburgh.
The Lyons family moved to the Pittsburgh area in or shortly before 1865, when Thomas M. Lyons and John C. Elliott formed Elliott & Lyons, merchant tailors, at 53 Federal Street in Allegheny City (on the western side of Federal Street a short distance north of the present site of PNC Park). John C. Elliott, then 46, was also an Ohio native and new to the Pittsburgh area, and it is possible that the two men had been acquainted or in business together in their native state.
In 1865, Thomas and Nancy Lyons had at least one child, Harry M., who was born in 1864. Their later children were Cora, born in 1866, Morris, born in 1869, Josephine in 1873-74, and Louisa in 1878-79.
In Allegheny City, the Lyons family initially lived above the tailor shop on Federal Street. In 1867-1868, the family moved to the newly constructed house at 858 Beech Avenue.
The 1870 population census was the first census taken following construction of 858 Beech Avenue. The census enumerated Thomas Lyons, 46, as a merchant tailor, and Nancy Lyons, 35, with no occupation. Their children were Harry, six, Cora, four, and Morris, one. Census records also show that a servant, Mary Hidley, lived with the Lyons family. Hidley, 20, had been born in Ohio.
The 1870 census, the last census to provide information on assets of persons enumerated, reported that Thomas M. Lyons owned no real estate and had a personal estate of $300. The census was taken before Thomas M. Lyons acquired title to the lot at 858 Beech Avenue in August 1870.
Records of the 1870 census of manufactures document the activities of Elliott & Lyons. In 1870, Elliott & Lyons employed three adult males, one adult female, and no children, and paid $2000 in total annual wages. The firm had a capital investment of $5000. It manufactured coats, vests, and other clothing items that were worth an annual total of $15,000. The value of Elliott & Lyons’ annual output was third among the six tailoring establishments operating in Allegheny City’s First Ward. The annual production of the six tailor shops ranged from $5760 to $23,000.
In 1874, Thomas M. Lyons and John C. Elliott purchased a building at 17 Federal Street (on the present site of PNC Park) for $9500. Lyons and Elliott then moved their business to that address. At around the same time, John C. Elliott and his family moved from Arch Street in the Mexican War Streets area to a rented house at 1017 Galveston Avenue, a short distance from 858 Beech Avenue.
The 1880 census enumerated seven members of the Lyons family at 858 Beech Avenue: Thomas M., a merchant tailor; Nancy R., keeping house; and Harry, 15, Cora, 13, Morris, 10, Josephine, six, and Louisa, one. The family employed one servant who lived at 858 Beech Avenue. She was Agnes, 24, who had been born in Pennsylvania and was of Irish descent. Her last name is illegible in hand-written census records.
The partnership of Elliott & Lyons continued until about 1881. Directories published after 1881 listed Thomas M. Lyons as a merchant tailor but did not identify his workplace. John C. Elliott formed J.C. Elliott & Son, merchant tailors, in the former Elliott & Lyons shop at 17 Federal Street. The Elliott family moved around the same time from Galveston Avenue to Brighton Place.
Thomas M. Lyons died on February 22, 1884. The cause of his death, at age 59, is not known.
Nancy R. Lyons and her children left Pittsburgh within a short time after Thomas Lyons died. Local records do not indicate whether they immediately moved to Cincinnati, where Nancy Lyons and her children lived when they sold 858 Beech Avenue in 1902. The family used 858 Beech Avenue as a rental property between 1884 and 1902. In 1902, Nancy Lyons and her surviving children sold 858 Beech Avenue to Dennis Hayes, a commission merchant with offices in Downtown Pittsburgh and Allegheny City.
Local historical records indicate that Thomas M. and Nancy R. Lyons commissioned construction of 858 Beech Avenue in 1867 or 1868. The house was built inan urban version of the Italianate style, the most popular architectural style in the Pittsburgh area between the early 1860s and about 1885. Italianate features of 858 Beech Avenue include the brackets below the box gutter and within the side gable facing Galveston Avenue and the prominent window hoods and front door surround.
The house at 858 Beech Avenue was one of the first houses to be built on that street. The lot on which the house stands was part of property in Allegheny West that Elizabeth F. Denny had subdivided in the 1850s or 1860s, after receiving the property in an inheritance.
Thomas M. Lyons was a self-employed tailor while he lived at 858 Beech Avenue. Lyons owned and operated a tailor shop on Federal Street near the Allegheny River during most of the time that he lived in the house. His firm, Elliott & Lyons, produced $15,000 worth of goods annually around the time that 858 Beech Avenue was built.
Thomas M. and Nancy R. Lyons were both bom in Ohio. The couple had five children, all of whom lived at 858 Beech Avenue. Census records also show that the Lyons family employed a servant who lived in their home.
The Lyons family lived at 858 Beech Avenue until 1884. In that year, Thomas M. Lyons died and Nancy R. Lyons and her children left Pittsburgh. The Lyons family owned 858 Beech Avenue until 1902, using the house as a rental property. Their tenants included Thomas P. Roberts, an engineer.
The former Lyons house at 858 Beech Avenue has now had a total of nine owners. Detailed information on the history of 858 Beech Avenue is contained in the following report.
- August 18, 1870
- February 22, 1884
- November 4, 1902
- September 21, 1909
- October 29, 1909
- May 26, 1921
- September 22, 1934
- December 14, 1938
- August 16, 1968
- March 13, 1970
- October 27, 1978
- April 17, 1981
- July 8, 1987
- January 29, 1999
Elizabeth F. Denny of Pittsburgh conveyed the lot on which 858 Beech Avenue now stands to Thomas M. Lyons of Allegheny City (now the North Side) for $1100. The lot was described as being located at the northeastern comer of Beech Street (now Beech Avenue) and Grant Street (now Galveston Avenue) in Allegheny City and measuring 20′ wide by 100′ deep. The lot was known as Lot 1 in Block 3 in Mrs. Elizabeth F. Denny’s Plan of Lots (Allegheny County Plan Book Volume 6, Page 193).
(Deed Book Volume 264, Page 545)
Thomas M. Lyons died on February 22, 1884. He was survived by his widow, Nancy R. Lyons, and their children.
Nancy R. Lyons, Cora D. Lyons and Maurice E. Lyons, all of Cincinnati, Ohio, conveyed 858 Beech Avenue to Dennis Hayes of Avalon for $5500.
(DBV 1203 P 576)
The South Side Trust Company, trustee in bankruptcy for Dennis Hayes, conveyed 858 Beech Avenue to Una E. Newell of Willock, Allegheny County, for $4600.
(Deed Book 1656 P 186)
Joseph R. and Una E. Newell conveyed 858 Beech Avenue to Frances Rose Hayes of Pittsburgh, wife of Dennis Hayes, for $5187.50.
(DBV 1656 P 190)
Title to 858 Beech Avenue was placed in the names of Dennis and Frances Rose Hayes.
Frances Rose Hayes died on October 16, 1929.
(Deed Book 2074 P 47,48)
Dennis Hayes of Pittsburgh conveyed 858 Beech Avenue to Anna Werner and Edward A. and Elizabeth Werner for $1.
(DBV 2490 P 521)
Anna Werner conveyed her interest in 858 Beech Avenue to Edward A. and Elizabeth Werner.
(DBV 2611 P 367)
Edward A. and Elizabeth Werner of Pittsburgh conveyed 858 Beech Avenue to Edward R. and Gay L. Hilderhoff of Pittsburgh for $8000.
(DBV 4592 P 581)
Edward R. and Gay L. Hilderhoff of Bellevue conveyed 858 Beech Avenue to Thomas J. Lapinski of Pittsburgh for $11,000.
(DBV 4824 P 41)
Thomas J. Lapinski of Allegheny County conveyed 858 Beech Avenue to James R. Harvey for $29,500.
(DBV 6025 P 867)
James R. Harvey conveyed 858 Beech Avenue to Joseph A. Buongiomo for $47,500.
(DBV 6363 P 858)
Title to 858 Beech Avenue was placed in the names of Joseph A. and Pamela D. Buongiomo.
(DBV 7593 P 134)
John C. McDanel purchased 858 Beech Avenue from Joseph A. and Pamela D. Buongiomo on January 29, 1999.
(DBV 10397 P 5)
Age of the House
Historical records indicate that Thomas M. and Nancy R. Lyons commissioned construction of 858 Beech Avenue in 1867 or 1868. The couple had the house built two to three years before they acquired title to the lot on which the house stands from Elizabeth F. Denny, who had subdivided property on and around Beech Avenue.
Thomas M. Lyons purchased the lot on which 858 Beech Avenue now stands from Elizabeth F. Denny on August 18, 1870. Lyons paid $1100 for the lot, measuring 20’ wide along Beech Avenue by 100′ deep along Galveston Avenue. This purchase, at 55 cents per square foot, was slightly lower than prices paid for other undeveloped lots on Beech Avenue at the time.
Pittsburgh city directories listed Thomas M. Lyons as living at the corner of Beech and Grant streets (now Beech and Galveston Avenues) for the first time in 1868. Lyons was listed at the corner of Beech and Grant streets in 1869, and at 63 (now 858) Beech Avenue in 1870. An 1872 plat map confirms that 858 Beech Avenue had been built.
Thomas and Nancy Lyons had 858 Beech Avenue built in the Italianate style.
In urban neighborhoods like Allegheny West, where high land costs discouraged construction of homes with more than about 25′ frontage,Italianate house exteriors were characterized primarily by side-gabled roofs, arched door and window openings, prominent or projecting door and window hoods, and decorative brackets supporting box gutters.
Interior details of Italianate homes often included flared newel posts and spindles, marble or wood mantels with arched openings, four-panel doors with porcelain knobs and ornamented cast iron hinges, and non-symmetrical door and window trim with diagonally mitered comers.
In Pittsburgh, many Italianate homes were built with stairways that incorporated landings located about three steps below the main level of the second floor. Most local Italianate homes also featured two-over-two double hung windows, although some later or larger examples were constructed with one-over-one double-hung windows.
The Italianate style and the related Second Empire style were the most popular architectural styles for homes and commercial buildings constructed in the Pittsburgh area between the early 1860s and about 1885.
Available records do not identify an architect who is credited with design of 858 Beech Avenue.
Pittsburgh city directories, U.S. population and manufacturing census records, and Allegheny County land records provide information on Thomas M. and Nancy R. Lyons, the first owners of 858 Beech Avenue.Elizabeth F. Denny inherited property that included land on both sides of Beech Avenue from her father, Harmar Denny, in the 1850s or 1860s. Elizabeth F. Denny subdivided the land into building lots and began selling the lots. Maps published in 1852 and 1862 show that no houses had yet been built on Beech Avenue. An 1872 plat map shows that about 22 houses had been built on the street in the preceding decade. Elizabeth F. Denny sold most of the lots fronting on Beech Avenue in the 1860s and 1870s, although a few of the lots continued to be owned by her heirs in the early 20th century.
Review of early sales of lots on Beech Avenue by Elizabeth F. Denny between 1866 and 1872 and city directory listings suggests that 858 Beech Avenue is among at least three houses on the street that were built before their owners acquired title to the lots on which they stand. Other houses that are known to have been built in this way are 908 Beech Avenue, occupied beginning in 1867-1868 by real estate agent John Sterritt, who bought the lot on which the house stands for $2200 in 1872, and 922 Beech Avenue, occupied beginning in 1868-1869 by James Hamilton, a jeweler who bought the lot for $2900 in 1871.
It appears that Elizabeth F. Denny allowed these early Beech Avenue residents to build houses on the lots in association with unrecorded agreements that the home builders would purchase the lots within specified periods of time. It should be noted that Elizabeth F. Denny was a member of a family that owned large amounts of land in many city neighborhoods, including valuable properties in Downtown Pittsburgh and holdings of value in the North Side, Strip District, Lawrenceville, Polish Hill, Hill District, and other areas.
In addition to construction of rows of rental houses, the Denny family is known to have leased land to manufacturers who built factories on their land in the Strip District. It appears likely that Elizabeth F. Denny was following real estate practices pursued by other members of her family when she permitted pre-purchase construction on some of her Beech Avenue lots. She probably also realized that construction of substantial houses on a few of the lots would increase the value of the remaining lots that she hoped to sell on Beech Avenue.
Pittsburgh city directories, U.S. population and manufacturing census records, and Allegheny County land records provide information on Thomas M. and Nancy R. Lyons, the first owners of 858 Beech Avenue.
Pittsburgh city directories listed Thomas P. Roberts as living at 858 Beech Avenue between 1887 and 1891. Roberts was the chief engineer of the Monongahela Navigation Company during most of the time that he lived at 858 Beech Avenue. The Monongahela Navigation Company’s offices were at the comer of Forbes Avenue and Grant Street in Downtown Pittsburgh.
In 1887, the first year that he was listed at 858 (then 63) Beech Avenue, Roberts was the chief engineer of the Pittsburgh East End Railroad Company. He and his family had lived on Logan Street in the lower Hill District (on or near the present site of the Mellon Arena) before they moved to 858 Beech Avenue.
Records of the 1890 manuscript census, which would provide information on the Roberts family and any other residents of 858 Beech Avenue in that year, were destroyed in a warehouse fire following the completion of the census.
The Roberts family moved from 858 Beech Avenue to North Craig Street near Centre Avenue in Oakland in 1891-1892.
The 1900 Census
In 1900, according to census records, 858 Beech Avenue contained two occupied apartments.
The first apartment at 858 Beech Avenue was rented to Eliza McCracken. McCracken was 69 years old and had no occupation. She was single and lived alone. She had been born in Ohio to parents bom in Ireland and Pennsylvania.
The second apartment was rented to Nancy Ridgeley, 53, a widow with no occupation. Ridgeley had been married for 27 years and had had two children. Both of her children lived with her. They were Frank, 25, a student, and Carrie, 21, a music teacher. Both had been born in Colorado.
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.
The following materials accompany this report:
- a copy of part of an 1852 map depicting Allegheny City
- a copy of part of an 1872 plat map of the area around 858 Beech Avenue
- copies of parts of fire insurance maps of the area around 851 Beech Avenue, published in 1884, 1893, 1906 and the 1925 map, updated by the publisher to 1950
- information on Thomas P. Roberts, from Century Cyclopedia of History and Biography, Pennsylvania (1910)
- a copy of a photograph of Thomas P. Roberts, from Notable Men of Pittsburgh and the Vicinity (1901)
A Researched History
By: Carol J. Peterson
all photos by Nick Smerker, unless otherwise noted
Hugh Knox moved to Allegheny (now the Northside) in 1859 or 1860. The 1860 manuscript census enumerated Knox in Allegheny’s Third Ward (now the East Allegheny area). The census reported that Knox, 32, was a flour dealer who owned no real estate and had a “personal estate” of $1300. Catherine N. Knox, 23, had no occupation. Hugh and Catherine Knox had one child: Jane, who was one year old.
Directories listed Hugh Knox as living on Fleming Street near Locust Street in Allegheny in 1861 and 1862. During the mid-1860’s, Knox lived at 59 Colwell Street in the Hill District. Knox was listed at 36 Liberty Street in Allegheny in 1866, and at 63 Lincoln Avenue in Allegheny in 1867. Knox & McKee, which had moved to 323 Liberty Avenue in Pittsburgh, apparently dissolved in 1867 or 1868.
City directories listed Hugh Knox at 63 Lincoln Avenue between 1867 and 1870.
The 1870 manuscript census enumerated Hugh Knox and his family on Lincoln Avenue in Allegheny. Knox, 42, owned real estate valued at $9000 and had a “personal estate” of $10,000. In 1870, the Knox’s children were Jane, 11, Hugh R., nine, Maggie, eight, Mollie, seven, Anne, five, and Kate, three.
In 1870, one servant lived with the Knox family at 63 Lincoln Avenue: Agnes McCarthy, 24, who had been born in Ireland.
Hugh Knox did not appear in the directory in 1871 or 1872.
By 1873, the Knox family relocated to Nunnery Hill (now Fineview). Hugh Knox was listed as an agent who worked at 415 Liberty Avenue. Later directories indicated that Knox worked for the Laurel Hill Coal Works at 418 Liberty Avenue (later known as 1129 Liberty Avenue, on the current site of the Greyhound Bus Terminal) and lived on Bell Avenue (now Belleau Street) on Nunnery Hill.
844 North Lincoln is a three story red brick house occupying a 24′ wide by 140’9.625″ deep lot located in the Allegheny West section of Pittsburgh.
Hugh Knox, a commission merchant, flour dealer and coal company manager, had 844 North Lincoln Avenue built in 1866 or 1867. Knox and his family lived at 844 North Lincoln Avenue through 1870.
844 North Lincoln Avenue was originally known as 63 Lincoln Avenue.
Detailed information on the ownership history, age, and first owner of 844 North Lincoln Avenue follows.
- January 15, 1863
- March 30, 1857
- April 8, 1865
- February 28, 1866
- October 4, 1869
- September 22, 1871
- April 7, 1896
- June 6, 1900
- June 26, 1935
- July 9, 1954
- November 30, 1976
- April 21, 1978
- September 13, 1991
John and Abigail Irwin of Sewickley to Samuel Boyd of the city of Pittsburgh, $450. This deed conveyed a 24′ wide by 144’5.5″ deep lot located on the northern side of Central Street (later Lincoln Avenue and Lynndale Avenue, now North Lincoln Avenue), and extending to an unnamed 20′ wide alley (later Manilla Street, now Maolis Way). The lot was known as Lot 49 in John Irwin’s Plan of the Rope Walk, later recorded in Plan Book Volume 2, Page 173.
(Deed Book Volume 162, Page 197)
Samuel and Mary A. Boyd of the city of Pittsburgh to Samuel McNaugher of the city of Allegheny, $675.
(DBV 161 P 463)
Malazena and William Anderson Jr. of Allegheny City conveyed the 36′ by 60′ lot that William Anderson Sr. had purchased on November 4, 1853 to James McKinney of Allegheny City for $2800.
(DBV 187 P 112)
Samuel and Jane McNaugher of the city of Allegheny to Hugh Knox of the city of Allegheny, $1250.
(DBV 234 P 446)
John H. Bailey, Esquire, of the city of Pittsburgh, assignee in bankruptcy of Hugh Knox of the city of Allegheny, to Hugh Knox of the city of Allegheny, $650.
(DBV 264 P 32)
Hugh and Mrs. C.A. Knox of the city of Allegheny to William Stewart of the city of Allegheny, $17,500. The deed stated that the„ lot contained a “three story brick dwelling house marked and numbered number 63 Lincoln Avenue.”
(DBV 283 P 183)
William Stewart, formerly of the city of Allegheny, now of Shaler Township, to Harry Darlington of the city of Allegheny, $15,000.
(DBV 932 P 180)
Harry and Mary E. McC. Darlington of the city of Allegheny to George Shiras 3rd of the city of Allegheny, $7500.
(DBV 1078 P 496)
Frances P. and George Shiras III of Washington, D.C. to Frank R. and Nell L. Brasecker of the city of Pittsburgh, $5000.
(DBV 2521 P 201)
Frank R. and Nell L. Brasecker of Miami, Florida to Dorothy S. and John B. Nicklas Jr. of Mount Lebanon, $55,000. This deed conveyed 844 North Lincoln Avenue, 827 North Lincoln Avenue, and 808 Galveston Avenue. The deed stated that 844 North Lincoln Avenue was mortgaged for $14,000.
(DBV 3478 P 541)
Dorothy S. and John B. Nicklos Jr. of Mount Lebanon to Gildas A. Kaib Jr. of the city of Pittsburgh, $65,000. This deed conveyed 844 North Lincoln Avenue, 827 North Lincoln Avenue, and 808 Galveston Avenue.
(DBV 5712 P 981)
Gildas A. Kaib Jr., unmarried, of the city of Pittsburgh, to Valerie and Carl E. Canales Jr. of the city of Pittsburgh, $37,600. This deed conveyed 844 North Lincoln Avenue only.
(DBV 5926 P 647)
Valerie and Carl E. Canales Jr. to Carl E. Canales Jr., $1.
(DBV 8565 P 416)
Age of the House
All available information indicates that Hugh Knox had 844 North Lincoln Avenue built in 1866 or 1867.
The February 28, 1866 sale of a 3467 square foot lot for $1250, at 36 cents per square foot, was comparable to other sales of undeveloped lots in and near Allegheny West at the time and indicates that 844 North Lincoln Avenue had not yet been built. Subsequently, the 1867 Pittsburgh city directory listed Hugh Knox at 63 Lincoln Avenue for the first time.
Allegheny County mortgage records show no record of any loan to Hugh Knox for construction of 63 Lincoln Avenue.
U.S. census records and Pittsburgh city directories provide information on Hugh Knox, a commission merchant, flour dealer and coal company manager.
The 1880 Census
In 1880, William Stewart had three servants living at 64 Lincoln Avenue. They were Ellen Johnson, 30, a cook born in Maryland, Rachel Tagant, 30, a chambermaid born in Virginia, and Warner Brisco, 25, a driver born in Canada.
All of Stewart’s servants were black.
The census also indicated that Ellen Johnson and Rachel Tagant were single and that Warner Brisco was married but did not live with his family.
The 1900 Census
The manuscript censuses of 1900 and 1910 contain no information on residents of 844 North Lincoln Avenue.
The 1910 Census
In 1910, the census reported that 844 Rear North Lincoln Avenue was rented to the family of Jackob Reinert, a locksmith.
Jackob Reinert, 50, had been born in Germany and immigrated to the United States in 1871. Reinert, a naturalized citizen, worked on “odd jobs” as a locksmith.
Reinert’s wife Margaret, 32, had been born in Ohio and was of English descent. In 1910, the couple had been married 10 years and had had four children, with all of their children alive at the time of the census.
The Reinerts’ children were Leo S., seven, Raphael C., five, Grace, two, and Harold J., nine months.
Louis J. Reinert, Jackob Reinert’s brother, also lived with the family. Louis J. Reinert, 45, was single and did odd jobs as a laborer. He had been born in Germany and immigrated in 1871, and had been unemployed for 25 weeks during 1909.
The census also indicated that all adult residents of 844 Rear North Lincoln Avenue were able to read and write and that all of the Reinert children had been born in Pennsylvania.
The 1920 manuscript census will be available to the public in 1992, and should provide information on residents of 844 North Lincoln Avenue in that year. Census records are withheld 72 years to ensure confidentiality.
The following materials accompany this report:
- a copy of an 1872 plat map of the area including N Lincoln Avenue
- a copy of a 1910 plat map of the Western Avenue area
A Researched History
By: Carol J. Peterson
all photos by Nick Smerker, unless otherwise noted
Madelaine F. Laughlin Alexander and her husband, Rev. Maitland Alexander, lived at 838 North Lincoln Avenue between 1907 and 1910. Madelaine F. Laughlin Alexander was a daughter of Mary Franklin Jones Laughlin, first child of B.F. and Mary McMasters Jones, and Alex Laughlin Jr. Maitland Alexander was the pastor of the First Presbyterian Church of Pittsburgh between 1899 and 1929.
The 1910 census enumerated the Alexander family at 838 North Lincoln Avenue. Maitland and Madelaine Alexander had been married for four years and had one child, Maitland Jr., who was 23 months old. The couple employed six servants who lived in the house:
- Margaret Cleary, 31, a chambermaid, a widow who had been born in Pennsylvania to Irish immigrant parents
- Anna Fitzpatric, 27, a nurse, she was a widow who had immigrated from England in 1895
- Katharine McGonigle, 39, an unmarried cook who had immigrated from Ireland in 1899
- Marguerite Steen, 21, a waitress, born in Pennsylvania and unmarried
- Bridget Gagin, 38, a laundress who had immigrated from Ireland in 1898, unmarried
- Hulda Richter, 29, a ladies’ maid who was unmarried and had immigrated from Germany in 1907
In about 1911, the Alexander family moved into one of the largest houses ever built on the Northside, a mansion at 920 Ridge Avenue. At around the same time, Madelaine Alexander’s sister, Mary McMasters Laughlin Robinson, her husband William C. Robinson, and their children moved into a mansion of similar size next door at 900 Ridge Avenue, at the corner of Galveston Avenue.
Mary Franklin Jones Laughlin had made the construction of the mansions possible in 1909, when she purchased the Pittsburgh and Allegheny Orphan Asylum at that site, demolished the building, and gave the property to her daughters. The Alexander and Robinson houses, alone with the adjacent William Penn Snyder house across Galveston Avenue, were the last mansions constructed in Allegheny West. The Alexander and Robinson mansions were demolished between 1938 and 1940.
Henry Buckingham Darlington and his wife, Constance Alden Darlington, rented 838 North Lincoln Avenue from Elizabeth M. Horne between 1912 and 1915. Henry B. Darlington was an Indianapolis native and 1.906 Princeton University graduate, and a grandson of Harry Darlington of 721 Brighton Road. Constance Alden Darlington was a daughter of the architect Frank Alden.
Pittsburgh directories published in the early 1910s listed Henry Darlington as a clerk. In 1910, he worked for the Union Spring & Manufacturing Company, which had its office in room 617 of the Farmers Bank Building at Fifth Avenue and Wood Street, Downtown. He and Constance Darlington lived at 815 Western Avenue before they moved to 838 North Lincoln Avenue. In late 1913 or early 1914, Darlington was among the incorporators of the Standard Steel Spring Company. He became secretary-treasurer of the company, which operated a mill in Coraopolis. The couple married in 1910 and had one child, Henry B, Jr.
Henry B. Darlington died at home at 838 North Lincoln Avenue on November 14,1915, as a result of a bullet wound to the head. A revolver was found near Darlington, whose death was ruled a suicide. He was 32 years old.
Constance Alden Darlington and her son Henry Jr. left Pittsburgh in 1915 or early 1916.
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
In 1907, retired Pittsburgh industrialist George Harton Singer created the house that is today known as 849 North Lincoln Avenue when he combined two attached 40-year-old homes at 847 and 849 Lincoln Avenue. Singer spent $8,000, greater than the entire construction cost of a typical middle-class Pittsburgh home at the time, in converting 849 North Lincoln into a Colonial Revival mansion. In late summer 1907, Singer also had a garage built at 849 North Lincoln Avenue. Singer’s permit for construction of the garage was the last Allegheny West building permit issued before the late 1907 annexation of Allegheny City by the city of Pittsburgh.
George Harton Singer was a son of William H. Singer, a founder of the iron manufacturing firm of Singer, Nimick & Company. William H. Singer was a long-time resident of Western Avenue in Allegheny City.
George Harton Singer and his family lived at 849 North Lincoln Avenue for only a few years before joining other wealthy Allegheny City residents in fleeing to the clean air and tranquility of Sewickley. Singer and his wife,
Charlotte, sold 849 North Lincoln Avenue in 1920 to John R. McGinley president of the Gary Screw & Bolt Company, and his wife, Jennie. After John R. McGinley’s death, Jennie McGinley transferred 849 North Lincoln Avenue to a firm that converted it to a rooming house.
849 North Lincoln Avenue was owned by a succession of rooming house operators until 1977. In that year, 849 North Lincoln Avenue was purchased by its present owners, Harold E. Dixler and Nicholas F. Duerlinger, who are restoring the house to the period of its occupancy by the George Harton Singer family.
Detailed information on the history of 849 North Lincoln Avenue is contained in the following pages.
849 North Lincoln Avenue occupies part of the site of a rope walk, or factory, that was operated by members of the Irwin family until 1858.
Lot Owners (1858-1867)
On June 26, 1858 (Deed Book Volume 135, Page 382), John Irwin and his wife, Abigail, sold Lots 66 and 67 in the Plan of the Rope Walk Property to Daniel Euwer for $2,950. Both lots measured 48′ wide along Central Avenue (now North Lincoln Avenue) and Ridge Street (now Ridge Avenue), and 285’6″ deep. Daniel Euwer, of Ridge Avenue, was listed in city directories as a “gent,” or property owner who did not work. Euwer was the first of three short-term owners whose interest in the property was speculative, during a time of rising land values.
Daniel Euwer sold the western half of Lot 67 to William B. Smith, a “gent,” of Western Avenue on March 18, 1863 (DBV 159 P 500). On the same day, Euwer sold the eastern half of the lot to Alexander Pitcairn, a weaver who lived on Rebecca (now Reedsdale) Street (DBV 159, P 502). Both sales were for $1,000. Alexander Pitcairn sold the western half of the lot to William B. Smith for $1500 on September 10, 1864 (DBV 176 P 340).
William B. Smith doubled his investment in Lot 67 when he sold it to John W. Simpson, who would build the original double house at what is now 849 North Lincoln Avenue, in 1866.
Original Structures (1867-1906)
John W. Simpson, a Downtown Pittsburgh flour dealer who lived in an earlier house on the present site of 841 North Lincoln Avenue, purchased Lot 67 on March 16, 1866 (DBV 201 P 84). Simpson paid $5,000, or 36 cents per square foot, indicating the property remained undeveloped. Simpson had the two party wall houses that now comprise 849 North Lincoln Avenue built during the next 17 months.
On August 15, 1867 (DBV 222 P 71), John W. Simpson sold the eastern half of Lot 67, containing a house then known as 62 Lincoln Avenue, to Samuel P. Shriver for $15,000. Shriver, a wholesale grocer, lived in an un-numbered house on Ridge Avenue before moving to 62 Lincoln Avenue. The lot that was conveyed measured 24′ wide and 285’6″ deep between Lincoln and Ridge Avenues.
John W. Simpson sold the western half of Lot 67, containing a house known as 60 Lincoln Avenue, to Thomas Dawson for $15,500 on October 4, 1867 (DBV 220 P 436). Dawson, who previously lived in Rochester, Beaver County, was subsequently listed in city directories as a gent living at 60 Lincoln Avenue.
An 1872 plat map of the North Lincoln Avenue area shows that Lot 67 was occupied by a double house known as 60 and 62 Lincoln Avenue. Outbuildings, probably stables or carriage houses, faced Ridge Avenue.
62 Lincoln Avenue
After purchasing 62 Lincoln Avenue from John W. Simpson in 1867, Samuel P. Shriver owned and lived at 62 Lincoln Avenue for 27 years. On June 30, 1894, Shriver and his wife, Rachel, sold 62 Lincoln Avenue to John M. Montgomery of Glenfield, near Sewickley, for $12,750. Montgomery owned 62 Lincoln Avenue for nine months, selling the house to James W. Scully for $14,000 on March 23, 1895 (DBV 887 P 530).
Two months later, on May 22, 1895 (DBV 890 P 368), James W Scully and his wife, Ida, sold 62 Lincoln Avenue to William H. Singer for $14,000. William H. Singer owned 62 Lincoln Avenue (known as 847 Lincoln Avenue after late 1899) for nine years before his purchase of the western half of the double house.
John M. Montgomery, who may not have lived at 62 Lincoln Avenue during the brief time that he owned the house, was president of the Consolidated Stock and Produce Exchange of Pittsburgh. Montgomery, whose office was located at 410 Smithfield Street, Downtown, lived on Union Avenue, near the present site of Allegheny Center Mall, in the late 1890’s and early 1900’s.
James W. Scully, owner of 62 Lincoln Avenue for two months during 1895, lived in a house now known as 845 North Lincoln Avenue in the 1800’s andearly 1900’s. Scully was president of the First National Bank of Birmingham, 1201 East Carson Street.
60 Lincoln Avenue
Thomas Dawson owned and occupied 60 Lincoln Avenue until September 2, 1872, when he sold the house to John Kirkpatrick for $22,000 (DBV 294, P 314). Kirkpatrick was the general agent of the Armenia Insurance Company.
After Kirkpatrick’s death, legal actions among his heirs resulted in appointment of a special master to partition his property.
On July 28, 1906, C.S. Crawford, the court-appointed master for partition of the estate of John Kirkpatrick, sold 60 Lincoln Avenue (known since late 1899 as 849 Lincoln Avenue) to Karl E. Wilson for $10,000 (DBV 1463 P 572). Wilson owned the house for only three days before selling it to Frederick C. Ewart for $10,000 (DBV 1463, P 576). Ewart, a manager who had rented the house between the early 1890’s and 1904, sold the house on the same day – July 31, 1906-to William H. Singer for $10,000.
The Singer Mansion (1907)
With William H. Singer’s purchase of the western half of 849 North Lincoln Avenue in 1906, Singer owned both halves of what remained a party wall house. Under Singer’s ownership, the two houses were combined as a mansion in a 1907 remodeling.
William H. Singer appears to have purchased both halves of 849 North Lincoln Avenue as residences for his children. A son, William H. Singer Jr., occupied 62 (847) Lincoln Avenue between 1896 and 1901. Another son, George Harton Singer, occupied 849 North Lincoln Avenue after its remodeling as a mansion. George Harton Singer is recorded as the owner of the property in building permit records, although his father owned 849 North Lincoln Avenue until his death in 1909. The elder Singer left the house to George Harton Singer.
Allegheny City building permit dockets show that George Harton Singer received a permit for an $8,000 alteration of a brick dwelling on Lincoln Avenue on March 6, 1907. Existing records provide no information on dimensions of any additions made to the structure. On July 31, 1907, Singer received a permit for construction of a one-story brick garage in the rear of the property. The garage was to measure 44′ wide by 25′ wide, and had an estimated construction cost of $3,700.
The $8,000 that George Harton Singer spent for remodeling of 849 North Lincoln Avenue was greater than the typical construction cost of about $7,000 for a new middle-class house of about 10 rooms – including servants’ rooms – in Pittsburgh in 1907.
George Harton Singer hired the contracting firm of John H. Trimble & Brother for alteration of 849 North Lincoln Avenue and construction of the garage. City directories show that John H. Trimble & Brother was located at 2022 Chartiers (now Chateau) Street in Manchester in the early 1900’s. The firm was a partnership of John H. Trimble of Ben Avon and James Trimble of Bellevue.
Other work of John H. Trimble & Brother included an addition to the William Thaw Jr. house at 930 North Lincoln Avenue, a carriage house at 930 North Lincoln Avenue, and a house for iron manufacturer James B. Laughlin at 400 Devonshire Street in Shadyside. A related firm, W.F. Trimble & Sons, built the Harry Darlington Jr. house at 709 Brighton Road and its carriage house.
The July 31, 1907 permit for construction of the garage at 849 North Lincoln Avenue was the last building permit issued in Allegheny West before Allegheny City’s annexation into the city of Pittsburgh in late 1907.
George Harton Singer had 849 North Lincoln Avenue remodeled in the Colonial Revival style. Colonial Revival homes, common in Pittsburgh between the late 1890’s and the 1920’s, used features common to Georgian, Adam and Dutch Colonial houses built in the American colonies and United States until the 1840’s. Colonial Revival features of 849 North Lincoln Avenue include the shape of its front section, its front porch with columns and capitals, dentils at cornice level, and window configuration, keystone lintels, and blind arches. In and around Pittsburgh, most Colonial Revival homes were built of brick rather than wood frame.
A Field Guide to American Houses (Virginia and Lee McAlester, 1992) is a useful tool for identifying features of Colonial Revival homes, and provides abundant photographs of Colonial Revival, Georgian and Adam homes with accompanying text.
The Singer Family
George Harton Singer, born in Pittsburgh in 1859, was 48 when he and his father commissioned the remodeling of 849 North Lincoln Avenue. Singer’s father, William H. Singer, lived at 934 Western Avenue for many years. William H. Singer, a partner in iron manufacturing firms since the 1850’s, was a founder of the firm of Singer, Nimick & Company. The elder Singer also sold the Pittsburgh Bessemer Steel Company (later U.S. Steel’s Homestead Works) to the Carnegie Steel Company, and served on the boards of the latter firm and the Crucible Steel Company.
George Harton Singer worked for Singer, Nimick & Company and the Crucible Steel Company during the 1880’s and 1890’s. Singer was apparently able to retire in about 1900, at 41, and city directories published during the 20th century never listed Singer as having an occupation or maintaining a Downtown office for any purpose.
Although George Harton Singer invested a considerable amount of money in the 1907 remodeling of 849 North Lincoln Avenue, Singer and his family lived there for a relatively short time. Singer apparently began living in Sewickley at least during summers by the early 1910’s, and a biographical caption in Prominent Men of Pittsburgh (1915) indicated Singer’s home was in Sewickley. Singer and his wife, Charlotte, sold 849 North Lincoln in 1920.
Marguerite Singer, a sibling of George Harton Singer, and her husband, Dr. Robert Milligan, were the second owners of the Harry Darlington Jr. mansion at 709 Brighton Road.
Through the Years
Decline and Restoration (1920-Present)
After living in Sewickley for a number of years, George Harton and Charlotte Singer sold 849 North Lincoln Avenue to John R. and Jennie A. McGinley for $20,000 on April 21, 1920 (DBV 2049, P 123). The McGinleys, previously living in New York City, lived at 849 North Lincoln Avenue through 1932. John R. McGinley served as president of the Gary Screw and Bolt Company in the early 1920’s, and later maintained an investment brokerage office in the Westinghouse Building, Ninth Street, room 1200.
After her husband’s death, Jennie A. McGinley transferred ownership of 849 North Lincoln Avenue to the Eaglis Corporation, of which she served as secretary, for $1 on June 3, 1932 (DBV 2470 P 189). The Eaglis Corporation then converted 849 North Lincoln Avenue into a rooming house.
On February 10, 1937 (DBV 2561 P 134), the Eaglis Corporation sold 849 North Lincoln Avenue to Northside rooming house operators Chris and Nellie Christensen for $6,000. Chris Christensen, by then a widower, transferred the house to his son and daughter-in-law, Oskar H. and Yeiva J. Christensen, in consideration of $1 and love and affection on December 28, 1960 (DBV 3955, P 453). After her husband’s death, Yelva Christensen sold 849 North Lincoln Avenue to Carl E. and Nancy R. Floyd for $39,500 on February 22, 1974 (DBV 5386 P 399).
On January 19, 1976 (DBV 5572, P 553), Nancy R. Floyd, widowed, sold 849 North Lincoln Avenue to William Hubeaut for $40,000. Hubeaut owned 849 North Lincoln Avenue for 21 months, then sold it to its present owners, Harold E. Dixler and Nicholas F. Duerlinger, on November 11, 1977 (DBV 5865, P 623).
Allegheny West in the Early 1900’s
When George Harton Singer had 849 North Lincoln Avenue remodeled as a mansion, the Allegheny West housing market was characterized by steady demand for mansions and a declining market for middle-class homes.
In 1907, middle-class homeowners had been slowly leaving Allegheny West for nearly 20 years. Beech and West North Avenues were primarily a mix of owner-occupied and rented single family homes, with a few homes already divided into apartments. Although wealthy Allegheny West residents had begun to move to Sewickley in the 1860’s, most larger homes on North Lincoln and Ridge Avenues and Brighton Road remained single-family residences. Two of the neighborhood’s largest surviving houses – the Harry Darlington Jr. house at 709 Brighton Road and the William Penn Snyder house at Ridge and Galveston Avenues – were not yet built in 1907.
In the early 1920’s, almost all of the millionaire residents of Allegheny West moved to the Sewickley era. A few, such as the McGinley family, successors to the Singers at 849 North Lincoln Avenue, remained through the end of the decade.
A Researched History
By: Carol J. Peterson
all photos by Chris Siewers, unless otherwise noted
James H. Childs was born in the Shadyside section of Pittsburgh in 1878. His parents were Harvey Childs Jr., a wholesale shoe merchant on Wood Street, Downtown, and Jeannette Childs. As a young man at the beginning of the 20th century, he and Clinton L. Childs became partners in Childs & Childs, bankers and brokers, with offices in the Arrott Building at Fourth Avenue and Wood Street. He remained with Childs & Childs until about 1912. He then became president of H. Childs & Company at 813 Penn Avenue, a wholesale shoe, leather and rubber business that was a successor to his father’s firm.
James H. Childs married Alice Walton in 1902. The couple lived at 609 Allegheny Avenue and had a summer home in Sewickley Heights soon after they were married. By 1912, the Childs family had a summer home at Dark Harbor, Maine. The family lived at 943 North Lincoln Avenue in the 1910s, until James H. Childs purchased 845 North Lincoln Avenue from James and Ida Scully in 1917. When they moved to 845 North Lincoln Avenue, James H. and Alice Childs had three children.
Records of the 1920 census list the five members of the Childs family at 845 North Lincoln Avenue: James H. Childs, 41, a wholesale leather and rubber merchant; Alice Walton Childs, 40; and Alice Walton Childs, 14, Mary, ten and James H. Jr., six. Household staff living in the house were:
- Margaret Brown, 41, a widowed nurse who had immigrated from England in 1893
- Delia Osher, 28, a servant who had immigrated from Ireland in 1910
- Ellen Deasy, 30, a servant who had immigrated from Ireland in 1908
- Mary Lyon, 32, a servant who had immigrated from Ireland in 1900
- Julia Grotschal, 32, a Hungarian immigrant
Records of the 1920 census also show that 845 North Lincoln Avenue was mortgaged.
The Childs family lived at 845 North Lincoln Avenue until 1923, when James and Alice Childs sold the house. The family then moved to 5453 Albemarle Avenue in Squirrel Hill, and lived there until the 1930s, when they moved to 608 Academy Avenue in Sewickley. James H. Childs continued as president of H. Childs & Company for many years, and later served as chairman.
James H. and Alice Walton Childs lived at 608 Academy Avenue until they died in 1963.