838 N Lincoln Avenue
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
Charles Wilkins, merchant, of the town of Pittsburgh, conveyed property that included the site of 841 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 l0-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 was a 60′ wide by 24O’ deep lot at the corner of Ohio and Sandusky streets.
John lrwin died intestate while owning Out Lot 276. He was survived by his widow Mary and four children, Margaret, John, William and Elizabeth.
(Deed Book Volume 2, Page 97)
November 2, 1813
Wlliam F. Irwin of the borough of Pittsburgh, a son and heir of John Irwin, rope maker, conveyed propety that included the site of 841 North Lincoln Avenue to John Irwin of the borough of Pittsburgh, another son and heir of John Irwin, for $1,772. This deed conveyed Out Lots 276, 263 and 268 in the Reserve Tract, containing l0 acres each, and property on Liberty Street in the borough of Pittsburgh.
(DBV 19 P 127)
March 9, 1816
John and Hannah Irwin of Allegheny town conveyed Out Lot 276 to Elizabeth Irwin and Margaret Irwin of Allegheny town. This deed was an amicable partition of the estate of John Irwin.
(DBV 22 P 189)
October 14, 1861
John and Abigail Irwin of Allegheny County conveyed a lot that contained the present site of 840 North Lincoln Avenue to Martha Graham of Allegheny City for S450. The lot measured 24’ wide by 140’9-5/8” deep, and was known as Lot 51 in a plan of lots laid out by John Irwin
(DBV 151 P 437) (Plan Book Volume 2, Page 173)
March 12, 1881
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)
March 14, 1881
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)
March 20, 1888
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)
May 29, 1894
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)
April 8, 1916
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)
April 18, 1916
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)
May 5, 1916
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)
December 2, 1920
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)
January 27, 1921
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)
April 30, 1924
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)
October 2, 1947
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)
October 29, 1990
Philip W. Thomas conveyed 838 North Lincoln Avenue to Benard A. and Joedda McClain Sampson for $49,000.
(DBV 8363 P 274)
July 1, 1991
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.
The Architects: 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
he 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.
n 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
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all photos by Chris Siewers, unless otherwise noted