Wednesday, December 16, 2015

The 34th Annual Victorian Christmas House Tour, Pittsburgh, PA!

"Allegheny West, only eight small blocks, is the City's smallest neighborhood and is listed on the State and National Registers of Historic Places.  As we celebrate the 34th anniversary of the Old Allegheny Victorian Christmas House Tour, the Allegheny West Civic Council also celebrates 50 years of community reinvestment!"  This was a part of the introduction to the neighborhood of Allegheny West on the Northside of Pittsburgh.

Where better to start the tour than in church, the Calvary United Methodist Church to be precise and their collection of Tiffany stained glass windows!

The Resurrection!
The Ascension!
The Apocalypse!
Inspired by the Great European Cathedrals, Gargoyles and All!
The Sanctuary is of French Gothic Design!
And the Mistress of the Tours Was All Dressed in Her Finery!
927 Beech Avenue
In the 1880's, the Klees built five adjacent homes, which became known as Klee Row.  These represented the most advanced row house design of the time.  927 Beech Avenue was the largest of the row houses and the Klees lived in it with their seven children.  The four sons each received a house in the row when they married.  What I liked about this house was that the current owner's father had built a tree out of wood to display his ornament collection.  His collection was divided between the siblings when he passed away.  So some of his ornaments were on their tree and she displayed a photo of the original tree and that it was in a national magazine some years ago.

Our Guide Talking About 946 W. North Avenue
Completed in 1889, this Queen Anne and Richardsonian Romanesque style row house, one in a row of eight, is known as Denny Row, built by Harmer D. Denny, a notable Pittsburgh business man and great-grandson of Ebenezer Denny, the first mayor of Pittsburgh.  There were new home owners at 946 W. North Avenue who have taken a Danish Modern approach to their living space, but their tree was an artificial white tree with historical ornaments of famous Pittsburgh men and women.  We had 24 people in our group so it was difficult to get indoor photos of the living spaces except towards the end.  Each home's inside was unique and distinctive even to the Victorian outsides!
810 Galveston Avenue
It is the middle unit of three Italianate townhouses that were built in 1883 by Theodore Hugh Nevin and were once part of a group of 13 similar rental homes owned by Mr. Nevin on the street.  Mr. Nevin, in addition to being a landlord, was a banker and the owner of Pioneer Paints, a white lead paint manufacturer whose main plant was right down at the street at the corner of Galveston and Western Avenues.  The current homeowner did a major renovation from the 1980's decor to get the house back to its original 1880 ambiance.

The William Penn Snyder House
 The last house to be built in Allegheny West, the William Penn Snyder House was built in 1910-11 for William and Mary Snyder.  The builder of the Calvary Methodist Church was also the builder of this house.  William P. Snyder was an iron broker in Pittsburgh and later became president of the Clairton Steel Co. and founded the Shenango Furnace Co.  This new home was designed in a late French Renaissance style.  It was part of what was known as Millionaire's Row.  The building is owned by an insurance company now.
An Ornate Ceiling
The Decorated Tree in the Lobby
One of the Oldest Homes in Allegheny West, 840 N. Lincoln Avenue
The Martha and Robert Graham House originally constructed from 1862 to 1863 was in the Italianate style which was very popular during the time.  Robert Graham had been a manager at the Irwin Rope Factory.  After the passing of the Grahams, their daughter Mattie lived in the house and was nationally recognized as being one of the best known educators in the country and became one of the first female principals despite protests that women were incapable of performing in that office.  The home had a major reconstruction in 1918 to the Mission and Spanish Eclectic style which is its current style.  My favorite part of this house was the back patio and gardens.

Lovely Patio and Garden at 840 N. Lincoln Avenue
Our final stop on the house tour was at 719 Brighton Road also known as Holmes Hall.  BTW, as a group we had to sing a Christmas carol for the home owners before they would let us come in.  Nobody seemed to want to take on that responsibility.  So as I enjoy singing Christmas carols, the guide and I thought about what we should sing for each house.  It was fun!
719 Brighton Road
In November 1867, the wealthy widow, Letitia Caldwell Holmes, purchased her double lot of $16,000 when the average American worker earned just $129 per year.  Two years of construction produced her dream house--a Renaissance Revival masterwork--Holmes Hall.  The opulent home served Letitia and her family for more than 60 years.  By 1980, the grand house sat empty and neglected, but miraculously intact.  Holmes Hall is the oldest survivor of the spectacular mansions that gave Brighton Road and Ridge Avenue more millionaires per square foot than any other place in America.  The current owners took four years to renovate the mansion and the tours got a chance to see the public rooms of the house, the parlor, the ballroom and the dining room.
The Christmas Tree in the Parlor
The Formal Dining Room
Holiday Decoration on the Mantel in the Ballroom
The Herbal Husband Quite Happy Among the Trains and Toys!
For an extra fee some of the tour got to see on the third and fourth floors of the house, the largest private collection of antique American toy trains in the world, its displays and village layouts.  These floors are open by appointment and only during the two days of the tour.  It was quite something to see.  I have a very brief video and I will put it on my YouTube channel soon.  So if you are looking for some Christmas cheer, think of the 35th Annual Victorian Christmas House Tour in 2016 because 2015's tour is over!  Thanks to the committee who wrote the guide book!  I used some of their information for this post!  The final two photos are our friends, Michael and Mary.  Mary's house has already been on the tour and Michael's house has yet to be finished!  It is a huge labor of love and commitment to these houses to bring them back to livable homes!  Maybe some day his will be ready!

Our Friend, Michael's House
Our Friend, Mary's Decorated Front Doors
We had a beautiful day here, sunny and balmy.  Almost 60 degrees.  I think this will probably be the last nice day until next week.  It is a roller coaster because of El Nino!  Hope you are having a great day.  I'll talk about our afternoon in Harmony tomorrow!  Talk to you then!


Shirley/Rock-Oak-Deer said...

Beautiful homes and decorations. Pittsburgh has so many beautiful old buildings. I look forward to your tour of Harmony as it is my husband's hometown and I've been enjoying its mystery and beauty for several decades. We live in San Antonio, Texas now and I found your blog through Cindy at FW Dirt.

Lemon Verbena Lady said...

Hi Shirley, Thanks for coming by and finding my blog! Yes, Pittsburgh has some great buildings and neighborhoods! Hope you enjoy a return to Harmony! xo