841 N Lincoln Avenue
Gideon N. and Mary Hoffstot had 841 North Lincoln Avenue built between March 1879 and early 1880. The house was constructed on property that Gideon N. Hoffstot had purchased for $11,500 in 1879. The Hoffstots had the house built in the Second Empire style, which is shown in its mansard roof, the façade’s projecting central section, segmentally arched window openings with ornate stone lintels, front door surround, and brackets below the box gutter. The Second Empire style was popular in the Pittsburgh area between about 1870 and 1885. The house took the place of a smaller, earlier dwelling that had stood on the site for a number of years.
Gideon N. Hoffstot was a Pittsburgh merchant, industrialist, and bank officer during the second half of the l9th century. He was born in York County, Pennsylvania, in 1812, and came to Pittsburgh with Mary Cannon Hoffstot in the 1850s. Hoffstot was a leather merchant on Liberty Avenue, Downtown, and later was chairman of the Union Foundry and Machine Company in the Woods Run area. He was also associated with the Second National Bank of Pittsburgh for 35 years, as a founder, stockholder, director, and vice-president.
Through his various roles in Pittsburgh commerce, Hoffstot was one of the better-known local capitalists of his time. Gideon Hoffstot died in l894, and Mary Hoffstot died in l900. One of their children, Ada Hoffstot, sold 841 North Lincoln Avenue in 1903.
Members of the locally prominent Watson family owned and lived at 841 North Lincoln Avenue in the early 20th century. The family, however, began renting the house to tenants while they owned it. By l9l0, the house contained ten apartments that were home to 20 residents. The former Hoffstot house at 841 North Lincoln Avenue has now had a total of ten 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)
June 24, 1858
John and Abigail lrwin of Allegheny City conveyed property that included the site of 841 North Lincoln Avenue to John Frazier of Manchester borough for $1600. This deed conveyed a 48’wide by 285’7″ deep lot extending from Central Street (later Lincoln Avenue and Lynndale Avenue, now North Lincoln Avenue) to Ridge Avenue in the first ward of Allegheny City, and located 415′ west of Irwin Avenue (now Brighton Road). The property was known as lot 65 in John Irwin’s Plan of the Rope Walk.
(DBV 155 P 64)
January 25, 1865
John and Eleanor Frazier of Allegheny City conveyed property that included the site of 841 North Lincoln Avenue to William Stevenson of Allegheny County for $15,000. This deed conveyed a 44’ wide by 285’ 6.75″ deep lot that consisted of all but the eastem 4′ of Lot 65 in John Irwin’s Plan of the Rope Walk.
(DBV 181 P 366)
March 31, 1865
William and Nancy Stevenson of Allegheny City conveyed the lot described in the January 25, 1865 deed to Joseph C. Tilton of Allegheny City for $15,000.
(DBV 183 P 142)
April 20, 1878
Allegheny County Sheriff R.H. Fife conveyed property that contained the site of 841 North Lincoln Avenue to the estate of William Stevenson, for $4500. This deed conveyed a 44′ wide by 143′ deep lot on Lincoln Avenue that was part of Lot 65 in John lrwin’s Plan of the Rope Walk. The property consisted of the lot on which 841 North Lincoln Avenue now stands, with an additional 10′ depth along the rear of the property that later became part of Chapel Way. The deed stated that the lot contained a two-story brick dwelling house with back buildings and other outbuildings.
(Sheriff’s Deed Book Volume 4, Page 171)
March 21, 1879
Nancy Stevenson, Martha L. Stevenson, Robert J. Stevenson, John E. and Kate Stevenson, Emma W. Stevenson, and Charles B. and Helen M. Grant, all of Philadelphia, conveyed property that contained the site of 841 North Lincoln Avenue to Gideon N. Hoffstot for $l1500. This deed conveyed the lot described in the April 20, 1878 deed.
(DBV 2849 P 610)
August 21, 1894
Gideon N. Hoffstot died while owning 841 North Lincoln Avenue. In his will (Allegheny County Will Book Volume 46, Page 543), he left the house to his daughter, Ada Hoffstot.
March 24, 1903
Ada Hoffstot of Allegheny City conveyed 841 North Lincoln Avenue to Mark W. Watson of Allegheny City for $18,000. The house occupied the lot described in the April 20, 1878 deed.
(DBV 1265 P 117)
March 10, 1925
Martha Watson Sewell, Harriet B.W. and Henry Chalfant, all of Pittsburgh, Harriet Watson Sproul Bolton and Doria St. Clair Bolton, her husband, of London, England, and Julia Watson Horne, unmarried, of Santa Barbara, California, conveyed 841 and 835 North Lincoln Avenue to William J. and Pearl A. Schaffer of Pittsburgh for $34,500. The houses occupied a lot measuring 122′ wide by 140′ deep.
(DBV 2237 P 631)
June 15, 1948
William J. and Pearl A. Schaffer of Derry, Westmoreland County, conveyed 841 North Lincoln Avenue to Margaret Wade of Pittsburgh for $11,500. The house occupied a 44’wide by 140′ deep lot.
(DBV 3003 P 426)
September 2, 1975
The estate of Margaret Wade conveyed 841 North Lincoln Avenue to Daniels Realty Company for $21,500.
(DBV 5535 P 149)
December 4, 1976
Daniels Realty Company conveyed 841 North Lincoln Avenue to Pittsburgh History and Landmarks Foundation for $29,000.
(DBV 5725 P 423)
October 27, 1987
The Landmarks Real Estate Corporation conveyed 841 North Lincoln Avenue to Maryanne Barnes of Allegheny County for $100,000. This deed included restrictions on exterior alterations to 841 North Lincoln Avenue that had been placed on the house by Pittsburgh History and landmarks Foundation for a period of 99 years.
(DBV 7667 P 152)
November 15, 1991
Maryanne Barnes conveyed 841 North Lincoln Avenue to Louis John DePellegrini for $136,500.
(DBV 8605 P 286)
May 15, 2015
Oakglade Realty II LP purchased 841 North Lincoln Avenue from Louis John DePellegrini.
(DBV 15983 P 15)
Age of the House
Gideon N. and Mary Hoffstot had 841 North Lincoln Avenue built between March 1879 and early 1880, after demolishing a smaller house on the site.
An 1872 plat map of the Lincoln Avenue area shows that the lot on which 841 North Lincoln Avenue stands, then owned by Joseph C. Tilton, contained a house that occupied part of the western half of the lot. The map shows that the house was narrow and deep. When Nancy Stevenson, administrator of the estate of William Stevenson, purchased the property at sheriff’s sale on April 20, 1878, the deed stated that the property contained a two-story brick house and other buildings. An 1882 plat map of the area shows that the house now known as 841 North Lincoln Avenue had been built.
Gideon N. Hoffstot’s March 21, 1879 purchase of the lot on which 841 North Lincoln Avenue stands for $11,500 indicates that 841 North Lincoln Avenue had not yet been built.
Allegheny County records show that between about 1870 and l880, Allegheny West houses occupying single lots measuring 25′ to 30′ wide and 100′ to 140′ deep were worth $11,000 to $13,000. County records also show that undeveloped lots in Allegheny West during this time typically sold for 80 cents or more per square foot. A large house such as 841 North Lincoln Avenue, occupying a double lot, would have been worth significantly more than the $11,500 that Gideon N. Hoffstot paid for the property.
Pittsburgh city directories and U.S. census records indicate that Gideon N. Hoffstot and his family began living at 841 Lincoln Avenue by early 1880, suggesting that the present house was completed by that time. Exterior architectural features of 841 North Lincoln Avenue are also consistent with a construction date of 1879 to 1880.
Linking 841 and 835 North Lincoln Avenue
Mark W. Watson purchased 841 North Lincoln Avenue from Ada Hoffstot on March 24, 1903. Watson already owned 835 North Lincoln Avenue, where his family had lived for a number of years.
Allegheny City building permit dockets, available beginning in l894, show that on September 2, 1903, Watson received a permit for the construction of a wood frame section that linked 841 and 835 North Lincoln Avenue.
The structure was to be two stories in height and measure 12′ wide by 12′ deep. Its estimated construction cost was $600.
A 1906 fire insurance map and a 1907 plat map confirm that the structure had been built.
Second Empire buildings were characterized by mansard roofs, and sometimes by prominent door and window hoods or lintels, arched window openings, and central towers. The Second Empire style was used in the construction of thousands of houses built for occupancy by middle-class and wealthy families in Pittsburgh neighborhoods between approximately 1870 and 1885. The style shares some features with the contemporaneous Italianate style, particularly when used in rowhouse settings, but is distinguished from the ltalianate style by its use of a mansard roof.
Interior details of Second Empire and ltalianate houses and commercial buildings usually included flared newel posts and spindles, marble or wood mantels with arched openings, four-panel doors with porcelain knobs and ornamented cast-iron hinges, and non-symmetrical door and window trim with diagonally mitered corners.
In Pittsburgh, many Second Empire and Italianate houses were built with stairways that incorporated landings located about three steps below the main level of the second floor. Most Second Empire houses and commercial buildings that were constructed before about I 880 featured two-over-two double-hung windows, although larger and more ornate examples were built with one-over-one windows. Houses built in the style after around 1880 were usually built with one-over-one windows.
Known records do not identify an architect who is credited with the design of 841 North Lincoln Avenue.
Street Name and Numbering
The First Owner
The 1910 Census
The 1920 Census
The 1930 Census
In 1930, Carl and Elizabeth Stratford rented 841 North Lincoln Avenue for $150 per month, and shared the house with nine lodgers. Carl Stratford, 36, worked as a bus driver. Elizabeth, 37, had no occupation. They had been married for six years, and had no children. Both were at least second-generation Pennsylvania natives.
Lodgers who lived at 841 North Lincoln Avenue in 1930 were:
- Frank J. Miller, 39, a bus driver, his wife Myrtle M., 36, and their children Mary M., ten, and Frank J. Jr., four. All members of the family were born in Pennsylvania.
- Henry Cameron, 22, an unmarried magazine salesman from Kentucky.
- Rollin Edwards, 2l, an unmarried magazine salesman who was from Pennsylvania and atmIeast partly of Welsh descent.
- John Clutter, 28, a brush factory laborer, his wife Marie, 20, and their daughter Marie, four. All members of the Clutter family were Pennsylvania natives.
The 1940 Census
The 1940 census recorded 20 residents of 841 North Lincoln Avenue, in ten apartments in the house. That census was the first to gather information on education and income.
Hettie Ponter, 47, rented the first apartment that was enumerated for $30 per month. She was an apartment house keeper, and a widow with an eighth grade education. The census did not state her income. She had a son, William, who was 20 years old and a college student.
Bernard and Evelyn Moran rented their apanment for $24 per month. Bernard, 36, was a railroad brakeman. He had not worked or had any income in 1939. He had been born in Pennsylvania, and lived in Connellsville, Fayette County, in 1935. Evelyn, 23, had no occupation. She had been born in West Virginia, and in 1935 was a “Gypsy” in that state. Bernard had completed two years of college, and Evelyn had a high school diploma. The couple had one child, Paul R., who was four months old.
Albert Abaffy, 50, lived alone in an apartment that he rented for $20 per month. He was a freight truck driver who had been born in Hungary. He was a high school graduate. In 1939, he had worked 50 weeks and earned $1750.
Geraldine Becki, 31, rented for $24 per month. She was a Pennsylvania native with an eighth grade education, and her marital status was not stated. She had two children: Marjorie, 13, and Albert J., 11.
George Adams, 67, was a widower who rented for $22 per month. He was employed as a collector with a jewelry store. In 1939, he had worked 12 weeks and earned $800. He was a Pennsylvania native with a second grade education.
Sarah A. Bader, 31, was a sales clerk in a butcher shop, and rented for $24 per month. She was unmarried and had completed one year of high school . In 1939, she had worked 52 weeks and earned $1200. She was born in Pennsylvania.
Perry and Gertrude Anderson rented their apartment for $28 per month. Perry, 54, worked as an auditor for an accounting firm. In 1939, he had worked 52 weeks and earned $2400. He and Gertrude, 55, were native Pennsylvanians who had completed the eighth grade.
Elizabeth Campbell, 57, was a widow whose rent was $24. She worked as a matron in a theater, and had eamed $672 for 52 weeks of work in 1939. She had been born in Pennsylvania and had an eighth grade education.
George and Evelyn Stephens’s rent was $28 per month. George, 36, was a truck driver who had earned $ $1440 for 52 weeks work in 1939. He and Evelyn,25, were born native Pennsylvanians with eighth grade educations. They had three children: Beatrice, six, George, four, and Richard, two.
William Noble, 49, rented his small apartment for $4 per month. He was a retail bakery salesman with a fifth grade education. He had been unemployed during 1939. He had been born in Pennsylvania, and lived in Columbus, Ohio in 1935. He was married, but living apart from his wife.
The l940 census is the last census that provides information on occupants of 841 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.
The following materials accompany this report:
- copies of plat maps of the area around 841 North Lincoln Avenue, published in 1872, 1882, 1901, 1907 and 1925
- a copy of an 1884 fire insurance map of the area around 841 North Lincoln Avenue
- “ln Memory of G. N. Hoffstot,” from the Pittsburgh Commercial Gazette , August 24, 1894
- The obituary of Mary Hoffstot, from the Pittsburgh Post, September 27, 1900
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all photos by Chris Siewers, unless otherwise noted