In addition to its architectural interest, this house on Penn Avenue is notable because it stands on the site of the cottage where Stephen Foster was born.
Lawrenceville has two First World War memorials. The most famous is the Doughboy in Doughboy Square (which of course is a triangle) at the intersection of Penn Avenue and Butler Street. But this more modest memorial at the corner of Butler and 46th Street is a charming statue of Victory that would be the pride of any neighborhood that did not already possess a greater masterpiece.
The Butler Street gatehouse was part of the original design of the cemetery in the 1840s, and it serves its function perfectly. From a busy city street we enter a romantic fantasy landscape that might have come straight from Sir Walter Scott. The contrast is almost as great as the contrast between life and afterlife.
Lawrenceville is one of Pittsburgh’s most interesting neighborhoods. In its long history—it was the birthplace of Stephen Foster—it has never really decayed, but it has seldom been a really fashionable neighborhood. The result is a collection of houses going back to the Federalist style, many of them in good condition, and relatively few bulldozed for new developments. Now, at last, the neighborhood is becoming fashionable, but among artists who cherish the history and architecture of the place.
This house probably dates to the 1880s, but the basic shape of Lawrenceville rowhouses has remained the same for most of the neighborhood’s history. The green trim and dark red paint were the typical look of a Pittsburgh house for many decades; by contrast, the identical house to the left has been restored and pseudo-Victorianized.
The fame of Richardson’s courthouse made “Richardsonian Romanesque” a favorite style in Pittsburgh for decades. Here a small industrial building in Lawrenceville shows that a little tasteful Romanesque detail is never out of place. (Update: This is actually the old Lawrence School, built in 1872, now converted to other uses.)