Sunday, April 7, 2013

Old Heidelberg Apartments, 405 - 21 South Braddock Avenue

It makes sense to start our treasure hunt with the Old Heidelberg Apartments, a historic landmark in Park Place and one of Frederick G. Scheibler's best-known buildings.

Scheibler's task was to design a building to attract aristocrats. According to one published report, the Old Heidelberg was finished in 1905 to be "something unique, and of worthy appearance to occupy [the site] of one of the most aristocratic neighborhoods of the city." One of the ways he did this was to disguise the apartment building into what looked like a sprawling country house.

This beautiful, playful Old World building looks like something out of a fairy tale. I remember riding past it when I was little and my mom drove us to the East End Food Co-Op. I imagined that very lucky, very interesting people must live inside--like playwrights and poets and professors.

The Old Heidelberg is whimsically bedecked in mosaics and mushrooms (reportedly dedicated to his daughter), and is delightfully symmetrical and random at the same time. While the building is balanced with an equal number of balconies, doors, and windows, every one is slightly different. The second-floor apartments have French doors with art glass that open their living rooms onto their balconies.

One of the men who commissioned it, Fred Bruckman, named it the Old Heidelberg after the town Heidelberg, Germany, where his family emigrated from.

Entryway, under the famous plaster mushrooms!
I took this photo in August 2007. I like how there are no air conditioners in the windows...but if you click to enlarge and look closely, you can see a cat!

Taken in April 2013. Nice shot of the high red tile roof

The Old Heidelberg represents Scheibler's first use of white stucco, a hallmark of the European cottage tradition. Aurand writes that Scheibler used white stucco exclusively in his designs for the next five years, and that Pittsburgh's stucco buildings from that period are almost automatically attributed to Scheibler.

The Old Heidelberg holds four L-shaped apartments on each of its three floors. The L-shape allows every single room in every apartment to have a window. Each room radiates out of a central foyer, or, as Scheibler labeled them "reception room," with the kitchen tucked in the back. A back door exits from the kitchen down to an alley -- Flotilla Way.

Each of the apartment doors features a different art glass flower.

Here is the floorplan, from Martin Aurand's The Progressive Architecture of Frederick G. Scheibler. You'll see that what Mozart Management now calls the "pantries" were then the servants' rooms. I like that the living rooms were called "parlors!"

The photos you see in this entry show the Old Heidelberg as it looks in 2013, with the later additions of 5 cottages and a connected house. This photo from 1906 shows how it looked before those additions.

Some more historical photos from the Library of Congress:

Old Heidelberg dining room

I can't figure this photo out. Today, the building is much closer to the road than it shows in this photo. When did Braddock Avenue look like when this photo was taken?

Old Heidelberg living room

Here are some interior shots that I took. You can find more on Mozart Management's web page, here.

This is the art glass light fixture in the shared front entryway.

Interior, one of the dining rooms, with built-in china cabinet and plate rail

Interior, one of the dining rooms, with fireplace with copper hood and a window seat

Interior, one of the living rooms
Living room with marble/tile fireplace

"Servant's quarters," looking into the kitchen. I'm amazed that an apartment of this modest size could have a servant.


1 comment:

  1. So glad I found this! I'm moving into the Heidelberg at the end of the month, and this was really cool to read. Also, your picture that you "can't figure out" I think was taken from the hillside across the street where Shadyside Academy is now. If you look where the tree line meets the grass, you can tell it's a hillside.