Today the Pittsburgh architectual history community mourns Carol Peterson, a tireless advocate for our region's built environment. She passed away yesterday at age 58. She was very supportive of my work as a historian and it was an honor to have her good opinion. My sincerest condolences to all her friends and family.

Carol J. Peterson, who traced the individual histories of 1,940 Pittsburgh houses and co-authored a North Side history book with the late Steelers owner ...
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Schwixon: the Schwab-Dixon Mansion added 2 new photos.

There has been an element of sadness to the library for many years. In the first pic you see just a single forlorn bulb on a pigtail in the ceiling. Also note... the wallpaper coving is only partly completed. I'm not sure when Richard Perlino - Dixon's "man with the golden fingers" who was responsible for much of the work he did on the place - died, but it was around 1995. That's as far as he got with the ceiling in the library. Dixon had clearly been waiting for the wallpapering to be finished before hanging a chandelier.

This, BTW, it occurs to me, is probably the first time a chandelier has hung from this spot in over a half-century. When it became HQ for the school district in 1960, they put fluorescents everywhere, even screwing them into the wooden coffered ceilings in the foyer and dining room (the screw holes are still there, but only noticeable if you look hard for them. What was here presumably went to the third floor since there were fixtures up there that Dixon rightly insisted went with the place when he bought it.

I don't know which one he was planning to hang, but I decided I had to start getting some of the fixtures hung - finished wallpaper or not, and so here's the one I'm auditioning for this space. It had had its wire removed, so that was the first step. Rewiring these things is tricky, but after having cleared that hurdle I discovered that I didn't have a canopy (the part that hides the wire at the ceiling) with the right-sized hole, and so Francis Nowalk (I'll post a link in the replies) came to the rescue on that.

Taking pix of these things is always disappointing. With lights out they look dead, and with lights on they flare the exposure out.

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Hartwood is ready for the holidays!

Experience the grandeur of a traditional English Christmas! Tour 20 beautifully decorated rooms in the historic Tudor estate. Make your reservations today!

The 111-year-old brick Colonial in Beaver has five bedrooms, 4½ baths and six fireplaces with original mantels.

It's holiday house tour season!

Six rehabbed Victorians will be open Dec. 8-9 for the 36th annual Old Allegheny Victorian Christmas House Tour on the North Side.

“Life at the Top” is a coffee-table book filled with photos of and details about some of the city’s most storied and exclusive buildings.

Wow - what a treasure!

Caliban Book Shop added 6 new photos.

HELLO Gorgeous! A fine, quite rare copy of "Notas Interesantes Acerca de Pittsburg" (1889) arrived recently at Caliban. Published on the occasion of the meeting... of the Congreso Internacional Americano in Pittsburgh, November 6-8, 1889, the book includes 75 tissue-covered plates, showcasing Pittsburgh's industry in the late 19th Century:…/notas-interesantes-acerca-de…

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If you're so inclined, hop on over to my Kaufmann's book page and enter the giveaway! Ends Nov. 12 at Noon ET. Be sure to "like" the page as well as the contest post!

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Remembering Kaufmann's Department Store


Win a copy of Kaufmann's Department Store signed by Melanie AND Rick Sebak!



1. "Like" this post.
2. Comment with your favorite memory of Kaufmann's.


Contest ends Nov. 12, 2017 at Noon ET. Winner will be chosen at random. Prize will ship within one week of contest end to U.S. addresses only.


By entering this contest, you release Facebook of any responsibility for the outcome or of any paper cuts you might sustain as a result of winning.

This giveaway is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with Facebook.

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Dear friends of Pittsburgh's Mansions:

I have a new book coming out about Kaufmann's Department Store and I'd love for you all to join me and Rick Sebak at the launch party next month. Please share and help spread the word!

Sun 5:00 PM ESTUnion StandardPittsburgh, PA
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Get a peek inside the Russell H. Boggs mansion during Doors Open Pittsburgh, Oct. 7 & 8. It's a great opportunity to explore historic architecture!

Doors Open Pittsburgh is planning its second event in October, expanding this year to include the North Side and the Strip District. Curious, or 'nebby,' ...

A Steel Tycoon, not a stockbroker, built this place. #pittsburghhistory, #braddock

A Pitt professor labors to preserve the Braddock mansion of Charles Schwab.

This is one of the historic, unique, beautiful homes on our tour next Sunday, 9/24! Get your ticket today!…/Friendsh…/stories/201709170030

A beautiful 1905 Foursquare that has been made more accessible is featured on the Friendship House tour on Sept. 24.
Sun 11:00 AM EDTBaum Grove ParkPittsburgh, PA
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East Liberty Valley Historical Society

We're still picking through the 1889 edition of Pittsburgh Illustrated. It is an absolutely invaluable resource; featuring things that even *we've* never seen b...efore. (And that's saying something.)

But this is a cautionary tale. Take nothing at face value. Always do your own research.

This is the home of James McCrea, president of the Pennsylvania Railroad from 1907 to 1913. When this photo was taken, he was merely the second vice-president of all rail lines west of Pennsylvania (la-ti-da).

A fabulous Queen Anne Victorian pile. I mean, it's a little awkward and the massing is kind of strange in places, but it was big and impressive. So it did the job.

But take a look at the penciled-in address: [Forbes corn. of Craft Ave]. False. In fact, almost every single address that was penciled into this book is wrong. There *was* a house like this at Forbes and Craft. But it's not this house.

The McCrea House was located in the 5200 block of Ellsworth Avenue, the site of present-day Ellsworth Place.

So, why do we care? Well, legitimacy, of course. But mostly because of what we can learn from this photo if it's correctly sited.

Take a look at the picture. No, a closer look. Closer. Off to the left a little. Hiding behind the porch of the McCrea House. There.

That's the Thomas Aiken house; a house no one has seen since it was demolished in the 19-aughts. A house of post-Civil War Era vintage. The house whose estate was divided to form much of this section of Shadyside. We see a wooden house, central hall plan, with Italianate embellishments and lovely, spindly porch columns.

That is why it's important to do your own research. Because you never know what you might be missing...

Image Source: "Pittsburgh Illustrated" H.R. Page & Co. 1889 (Accessed, University of Pittsburgh Digital Archive).

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Here's an update on the work the Mansions on Fifth's new owners have been doing in recent months.

Many of you often ask how things are going at other properties we operate. Well, here's a great article - thanks to Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reporter Patricia Sh...eridan - about what we've been up to at Mansions on Fifth in Pittsburgh's Shadyside neighborhood! We've come a long way since September, but we're just getting warmed up! Stop by and see us soon!

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June 28 is the grand reopening of the 22-room hotel in Shadyside that was purchased by the Priory Hospitality Group last year.