835 N Lincoln Avenue
John Frazier, a partner in a prominent Allegheny City contracting firm, constructed 835 North Lincoln Avenue between 1864 and 1867. Frazier built the house on a lot that he had purchased for $3,200 in 1864. The lot was part of a subdivision of the Rope Walk, a rope manufacturing facility that occupied the site between 1813 and 1858.
John Frazier, born in Pennsylvania in about 1826, was a partner in Frazier Brothers while he lived at 835 North Lincoln Avenue. Frazier Brothers, located in Manchester, was one of the most active contracting firms in western Allegheny City during the last third of the twentieth century. In addition to building houses for homeowners and speculatively, the firm also speculated in and subdivided land and operated a lumber yard and a planing mill. Its other two principals constructed landmark homes that still stand on Pennsylvania Avenue in Manchester.
John Frazier and his family lived-at 835 North Lincoln Avenue through 1875. Residents of the house during that time included Frazier, his wife, Eleanor, their two daughters, and Dr. John and Elizabeth Cowden, parents of Eleanor Frazier. The family also employed two servants, Amanda iVlcKain and Betsy Grant, who lived in the house.
In 1875, John and Eleanor sold 835 North Lincoln Avenue for $48,000.
The family subsequently lived on Sheffield Street and on West North Avenue in Manchester.
Mark W. Watson, who purchased 835 North Lincoln Avenue in 1875, was a partner in the Pittsburgh glass manufacturing firm of William McCully & Company. Watson, an Ohio native, also served as president of the Exchange National Bank of Pittsburgh and of two public utility companies while living at 835 North Lincoln Avenue. He lived at 835 North Lincoln Avenue with his second wife, Harriet Marshall Watson, and six children from his first and second marriages. The Watson family employed five servants who lived in their home.
Members ot the Watson family lived at 835 North Lincoln Avenue until 1909, when Mark W. Watson died. The Watson family owned the house until 1925. During the 1910’s, the family converted 835 North Lincoln Avenue to an apartment building.
Detailed information on the history of 835 North Lincoln Avenue is contained in the following report.
March 10, 1925
Martha Watson Sewell and Henry and Harriet BW Chalfant, all of Pittsburgh, Doria S. and Harriet Watson Sproul Bolton, of London, England, and Julia Watson Home of Santa Barbara, California, conveyed 835 and 841 North Lincoln Avenue to William J. and Pearl A. Schaffer of Pittsburgh for $34,500.
(Deed Book Volume 2237, Page 621)
March 19, 1951
William J. and Pearl A. Schaffer of Blairsville, Indiana County, conveyed 835 North Lincoln Avenue to David T. Mosse of Pittsburgh for $20,000
(DVB 3134, P 355)
March 14, 1988
Allegheny County Sheriff Eugene L. Coon conveyed 835 North Lincoln Avenue and other properties to American Property Consultants (75% interest) and Italian Tannery Group Inc. (25% interest) for $6277.24. This deed conveyed a total of 18 properties in Allegheny County. The properties were sold at sheriff’s sale as the result of a suit filed by Richard H. Mosse, Sharon B. Mosse, Linda Mosse Baer and Judith Mosse Kruger against Daniels Realty Company, a Pennsylvania General Partnership, Mosse Realty’ Company, a Pennsylvania General Partnership, Pittsburgh Associates, a general partner. Michael N. Appell, a general partner, Martin J Stamler, a general partner, and Mosse Investment Corporation, a Pennsylvania corporation.
(DVB 7849, P 311)
December 14, 1988
Italian Tannery Group Inc. conveyed its 25% interest in 835 North Lincoln Avenue, as part of a group of 18 properties, to Oakland Real Property Associates for $10 and considerations.
(DVB 7940, P 450)
January 2, 1989
American Property Consultants conveyed its 75% interest in 835 North Lincoln Avenue, as part of a group of 18 properties, to Oakland Real Property Associates for $10 and considerations.
(DVB 7940, P 468)
(Will Book Volume 22, Page 52)
June 14, 1994
Oakland Real Property Associates conveyed 835 North Lincoln Avenue to Frank L. Colosimo for $165,000.
(DVB 9238, P 359)
Age of the House
John Frazier, an Allegheny City building contractor, built 835 North Lincoln Avenue as a home for himself and his family between 1864 and 1867.
John Frazier purchased property that included the lot on which 835 North Lincoln Avenue now stands on February 1, 1864. Frazier paid $3200 lfor the property, which measured 48′ wide along North Lincoln Avenue (then Central Street) by 285’7.75″ deep to Ridge Avenue. This purchase, at 23 cents per square foot, was comparable to prices paid for other undeveloped lots in Allegheny West at the time, and indicates that 835 North Lincoln Avenue had not yet been built.
The 1867 Pittsburgh directory listed John Frazier as living at 68 Central Street for the first time. Plat maps, insurance maps, and city directories published during the nineteenth century indicate that 835 North Lincoln Avenue was known as 68 Central Street in 1807 and as 68 Lincoln Avenue between 1868 and 1899.
John Frazier was listed in Pittsburgh city directories published in 1865 and 1800 as living in an un-numbered house or houses on Central Street. It is possible that Frazier lived at 835 North Lincoln Avenue by that time. However, it should be noted that Frazier had lived on North Lincoln Avenue since 1863, the year before he purchased the site of 835 North Lincoln Avenue.
The shape of 835 North Lincoln, remaining exterior architectural details and the time at which it was built suggest that John Frazier built the house in the ltalianate style and with some influence of the Greek Revival style. The house was constructed with a hipped roof, the most common roof type for earlier and free-standing ltalianate houses in the Pittsburgh area. It’s is possible that the house was orignally topped by a cupola.
Exteriors of ltalianate houses built in Pittsburgh were characterized by arched door and window openings, prominent or projecting door and window hoods and decorative brackets supporting box gutters. Interior details of ltalianate homes usually included flared newel posts and spindles, plaster medallions above ceiling light fixtures, crown molding (then known as plaster cornice), marble or wood mantels with arched openings, four-panel doors with porcelain knobs and ornamented cast iron lunges and non-symmetncal door and window trim with diagonally mitered corners. In Pittsburgh, many ltalianate homes were built with stairways that incorporated landings located about three steps below the main level of the second floor. Most ltalianate homes also featured two-over-two double hung windows.
The Italianate style was the prevailing architectural style for homes and commercial buildings constructed in the Pittsburgh area between the mid-1860’s and about 1885.
The smaller size of the third floor windows and the use of dentil trim above them indicate the influence of the Greek Revival style in construction of 835 North Lincoln Avenue. The Greek Revival style was the predominant architectural style for homes constructed in southwestern Pennsylvania between about 1830 and 1860. The style’s hallmarks included low-pitched roofs, prominent use of columns, elaborate classically-inspired trim around door and window openings, shorter third-floor windows, sidelights and transoms around front door openings and dentil trim.
Available records do not identify an architect who is credited with design of 835 North Lincoln Avenue.
The large rear addition to 835 North Lincoln Avenue was constructed between 1872 and 1882. The addition was not depicted on a plat map of the First Ward of Allegheny City that was published in 1872. The next available map, published in 1882, shows that the addition had been built.
Through the Years
Pittsburgh city directories, U.S. census records, biographical materials and other sources provide information on John and Eleanor Frazier, the first owners of 835 North Lincoln Avenue.
Local historical records also provide information on Mark W. Watson, who purchased 835 North Lincoln Avenue in 1875. Watson lived at 835 North Lincoln Avenue until his death in 1909, and members of his family owned the house until 1925.
Occupants in 1920
n 1920, according lo census records, 835 North Lincoln Avenue contained seven occupied apartments. Census records list the heads of the households as Percy Browning, Hugh Mulholland, Fred Knapp Miller, John Derstine, George D. Barret, Roy Gibson, and Carl Edward Maider.
Percy and Agnes Browning occupied the first apartment that was enumerated at 835 North Lincoln Avenue in 1920. Percy Browning, 37, was a boiler maker and Agnes Biowning, 35, had no occupation. The childless couple had immigrated From England in 1906.
Hugh Mulholland, 60, was a Kentucky native and employed as a manager by an oil company. His wife, Julia Gertrude Mulholland, 49, did not work. She had been born in Massachusetts.
Fred Knapp Miller was a 34-year-old salesman who worked for a beef company. He and his wife, I. Josephine Miller, 27, were Pennsylvania natives.
John Derstine was a 20-year-old machinist. His wife, Estella, was 18. The Derstines were the parents of the only child who lived at 835 North Lincoln Avenue when the 1920 census was taken. John Derstine Jr. was six months old. All three members of the Derstine family were Pennsylvania natives.
George D. and Irene M. Barret occupied the fifth apartment that was enumerated at 835 North Lincoln Avenue in 1920. George D. Barret, 23, was a draftsman, and Irene M Barret. 18, did not work. The couple, natives of West Virginia, had no children.
Roy Gibson, an adding machine salesman, was 40 years old and an Ohio native. His wife, Lillian, had been born in Arkansas. She did not work.
Carl Edward Marder, 43, worked as a laborer in a steel mill. He had been born m Pennsylvania. Dorothy I., his Scottish-born wife, was 41 and did not work.
The census also enumerated two men as lodgers at 835 North Lincoln Avenue, without indicating in which apartment they lived. L.S. David, 28, was a civil engineer in a fabricating plant. He had been born in South Carolina. John Geib Jr., 32, was a candy and tobacco salesman. He was a native of Pennsylvania.
The 1920 census is the most recent census that provides detailed information on occupants of 835 North Lincoln Avenue. Manuscript census records arc withheld from the public for 72 years, to protect the privacy of persons enumerated.
The 1930 Census
The 1930 census enumerated William C. and Mary McNamara and their children living at 840 North Lincoln Avenue. William C. McNamara, 51, was a clerk in the Pittsburgh Stock Exchange. He had been born in Pennsylvania, like his parents; Mary McNamara had been born in Pennsylvania to German immigrants.
In 1930, the McNamaras had been married for 11 years. They had two children: Catherine, ten, and Patrick, nine.
Records of the 1930 census also show that 840 North Lincoln Avenue had an estimated value of $13,000, and that the McNamara family owned a “radio set”.
The 1930 census is the last census that provides information on residents of 840 North Lincoln Avenue. Manuscript census records are withheld from public view for 72 years, to protect the privacy of persons who were enumerated.
During and immediately after the Civil War, following the 1858 subdivision of the rope walk property, North Lincoln Avenue developed as a mixture of middle-class housing and mansions. The new Allegheny West neighborhood became a desirable alternative to older sections of Allegheny City like the East and South Commons and lower Federal Street, which contained residential, commercial and industrial land uses. Many of the original residents of the mansions and middle-class houses that line North Lincoln Avenue were merchants and manufacturers who previously lived in Downtown Pittsburgh or older sections of Allegheny City.
835 North Lincoln Avenue occupies part of the site of a rope walk, or factory, that was operated by members of the Irwin family until 1858.
The following materials accompany this report:
- a copy of part of an 1852 map depleting the Allegheny City area
- copies of plat maps of the area around 835 North Lincoln Avenue, published in 1872, 1907 and 1925
- a copy of an 1884 fire insurance map of the area around 835 North Lincoln Avenue
- information on Frazier Brothers from Pennsylvania Historical Review (1886)
- the obituary of John Frazier from the Pittsburgh Press, December 2, 1895
- an article on a fire at Frazier Brothers’ planing mill and factory, from the Pittsburgh Commercial Gazette, June 30, 1869
- Information on Dr. John Cowden from History of Butler County, Pennsylvania (1883)
- information on Dr. John Cowden from Twentieth Century History of Butler and Butler County (1909)
- a copy of a photograph of Mark W. Watson from Notable Men of Pittsburgh and the Vicinity
- an article on the death of Mark W. Watson from the Pittsburgh Press, June 1 1909
- the obituary of Harriet Watson from the Pittsburgh Press, May 24, 1906
- an advertisement for William McCully & Company from Pittsburgh: Its Industry and Commerce (1870)
- an article on the wedding of Julia Watson and Bernard S. Horne from the Pittsburgh Press, October 11, 1893
- a copy of an advertisement for the Exchange National Bank from the 1903 Pittsburgh city directory
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all photos by Chris Siewers, unless otherwise noted