Henry W. Oliver wanted to leave a mark on Pittsburgh, and he certainly did. Virgin Alley was renamed Oliver Avenue, and he planned this building to be the tallest in Pittsburgh. It was the tallest when it opened in 1910, although Oliver himself didn’t live to see it finished. As architect, he hired Daniel Burnham, the great Chicago beaux-arts master for whom Pittsburgh was practically a second home—there are more Burnham buildings here than anywhere else but Chicago.
Both these buildings are quite utilitarian, with ground-floor storefronts and upper-floor workshops; but each is adorned with its own distinctive classical detailing. The Greek-key pattern shows up on both, but no. 819 in particular adds a profusion of other ornaments that distinguish it from its neighbors.
Once again, the narrowness of Penn Avenue makes it difficult to get a complete picture of the façades of these buildings, so the tops are a little blurry.
The Renshaw Building (left) was built in 1908; it is architecturally interesting for the way it duplicates the base-shaft-cap form of a standard beaux-arts skyscraper in miniature.
The Kirkpatrick Building was built a quarter-century earlier in 1884. A cast-iron front on the first four floors gives way to standard Victorian Romanesque brickwork in the upper half.
Now converted to loft apartments and known as “The Cork Factory,” this landmark of industrial architecture was designed by Frederick Osterling. Here we see it from Washington’s Landing on a grey day. Since the weather was mopey, Father Pitt decided to make this picture look as much as possible as though it could have been made in 1901, when the buildings were new; but in fact it was taken just this afternoon.