Presbyterian Hospital

Presbyterian Hospital was built in 1938 as a splendid Art Deco skyscraper with wings. The original design is impossible to appreciate from nearby, since other buildings have grown up to obscure it. But if we take a long view of it from Schenley Park, we can get some idea of how the architect intended it to be seen.

The central tower is topped by yet another imitation of the Mausoleum at Halicarnassus, joining Allegheny General and the Gulf Tower in the style old Pa Pitt likes to call Mausoleum-on-a-Stick.

Camera: Konica-Minolta DiMAGE Z3.

Granite Building

A very-wide-angle view of the Granite Building, designed by the prolific and versatile Charles Bickel for a German bank. He has made use of every texture and shape of which granite is capable, and the result is a particularly lively, if perhaps a bit jumbled, rendering of German Romanesque.

You may notice some ghostly figures, including a spectral automobile, in the photograph. Father Pitt would love to be able to claim privileged access to the wonders of the invisible world, but in fact this is a composite photograph taken on a busy street, and people will continue to move even when they see an older gentleman in a cocked hat trying to take a composite picture.

The Granite Building is just across Wood Street from the Wood Street subway station.

Carnegie Library, South Side Branch

Another branch library by Andrew Carnegie’s favorite architectural firm, Alden & Harlow, who also gave us (as Longfellow, Alden & Harlow) the main Carnegie Institute building in Oakland.

Camera: Canon PowerShot A590 IS (hacked).

Frederick Osterling’s Grave

Sometimes one finds things one didn’t know one was looking for. Father Pitt had decided to visit Rosedale Cemetery in Ross Township, a small German cemetery that does not show up on many maps, and here it was: the Osterling family monument, with “Fred J. Osterling” inscribed on it. By the dates we know that this is Frederick Osterling, the great architect, and the monument itself is so strikingly tasteful that one suspects Mr. Osterling designed it himself for his parents.

Frederick Osterling is responsible for some of the most important buildings in Pittsburgh:

The Union Trust Building
The Armstrong Cork Factory
The Westinghouse “Castle”
The Arrott Building
The morgue
The Times Building

—among many others. His career pretty much ended with the Union Trust Building, however; the client, Henry Frick, refused to pay Osterling’s fee when the construction ran late, and Osterling sued. After a decade in various courts, the case of Osterling v. Frick ended in victory for Osterling; but meanwhile it seems that Frick, who was good at holding grudges, had made sure Osterling would never work again. On the other hand, it seems he didn’t really need to work: when he died in 1934, Osterling left an estate valued at a million dollars, which was a good bit of money in those days.

The Bertha Osterling whose name appears below Fred’s name is one of Frederick’s sisters, who apparently never married. Frederick never married, either; but, when he died with a million dollars in his estate, he left $10,000 of it to a certain Martha O. Aber in a handwritten codicil to his will (the rest went to his sisters Bertha and Anna). This woman then claimed to be his secret wife, and demanded a much larger share of the estate. Old Pa Pitt does not know what happened after that.

Camera: Canon PowerShot A540 (hacked).

Armstrong Cork Factory from the River

Frederick Osterling, one of Pittsburgh’s most interesting architects, designed the Armstrong Cork Company buildings, a masterpiece of functional yet attractive industrial architecture. They have now been turned into expensive loft apartments. You can see the buildings from a different angle here.

First Presbyterian Church

Composite picture, about 36 megapixels.

This splendid Gothic church sits on Sixth Avenue right next to Trinity Cathedral (Anglican/Episcopal) and right across from the Duquesne Club, forming a perfect triangle of old money. The architect was Theophilus P. Chandler, Jr., who also designed Third Presbyterian in Shadyside and the Duncan mausoleum in the Union Dale Cemetery.

An interesting feature of the front is the outdoor pulpit, perfectly positioned for thundering denunciations at the rich robber barons coming out of the Duquesne Club. But that never happens.

Camera: Olympus E-20n.

Free to the People

The entrance to the main Carnegie Library in Oakland. This is a picture Father Pitt took a few years ago, but nothing important has changed. The building was designed by Longfellow, Alden & Harlow, Andrew Carnegie’s favorite architects; they, or Alden & Harlow without Longfellow, also designed many of the neighborhood branch libraries.