Sunday, May 19, 2013

Klages House, 5525 Beverly Place

"Entering the Klages House in Highland Park is like walking into an enchanted cave where stained glass parrots roost in the dormers, tile turtles and ducks are underfoot and carved wooden dragons greet you at the top of the staircase,"

...writes Patricia Lowry in her article "Dynamic Domiciles" for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. 

Welcome to the Klages House, one of Scheibler's most romantic houses!

This Historic Landmark was designed in 1922-23, my favorite Scheibler period. Today, big, beautiful trees block much of the house, but we're lucky that this home has many fans and lots of information online.

According to Lowry's article, the home is made of Philadelphia schist, a luminous, reflective stone.

This  house is another example of Scheibler rejecting the idea that a main entrance has to sit at the front of the facade. This home's entrance is delightfully, ambiguously tucked in a tower on the side! The entrance sits under, according to floor plans, a "sewing room" and forces one to make a 135-degree turn to enter the house.

Tucked in a tower!

Recessed front porch, with floor-to-ceiling windows and grids of art glass

The Klages House was designed for Allen and Elizabeth Klages and remained in the family till 1994. In The Progressive Architecture of Frederick G. Scheibler, Martin Aurand writes that the owners were proud of the Klages House, even featuring a drawing of it on their Christmas cards, but that they had to prod Scheibler about its completion and, according to Allen's second wife, Suzanne Klages, even filed a suit against him over a disagreement about the second story flooring.

The Klages House is featured in WQED's Houses Around Here, which you can borrow, locally, on DVD from the Oakland branch of the Carnegie Library.

I'm dazzled by the interior--a fairy tale space brimming with birds, bees, butterflies, crabs, ducks, dolphins, owls, dragonflies and turtles. Aurand writes that the elaborate ornamentation is second only to the amazing Eva Harter House in Squirrel Hill.  He says that the living and dining rooms are paneled in dark wood and separated by stained glass panels of flower and spider web motifs!

The following photos are gratefully borrowed from the Aronson-Manning Online Museum. I did not snap these.

Martin Aurand writes that this living room mosaic was inspired by Allen Klages and his love of travel and the sea.

Stained glass parrots live in two of the bedrooms

Carved mahogany dragons at the top of the stairs

Built-in china cabinet

Coat closet with stained glass butterflies

"Sewing room" balcony doors
Stained glass hibiscus in the mahogany dining room

The bathroom looks somewhat similar to one in the Parkstone DwellingsMercer tile (from the Moravian Tileworks), is shown here around the bath that adjoins the master bathroom. 

There are three bedrooms, two bathrooms, and a sun room off the master bedroom.

Kitchen with original windows

Rear left

Rear second floor

Right side with entrance tower

According to Lowry's article, the kitchen was updated when it was purchased in 1994. (Those owners have since moved to Australia.) The original built-ins, like a refrigerator underneath a china cabinet, were removed. 

Here are first and second floor plans. You can see more on the house's Library of Congress site.

Click to enlarge!

Click to enlarge!

You can read the entire Post-Gazette article here:

Click to enlarge!

Click to enlarge!

From The Progressive Architecture of Frederick G. Scheibler:

In conclusion, Klages House owners, can I come over?

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Vilsack Row: 1659 - 1693 Jancey Street, row houses

We seem to have visited all the buildings in walking distance from our house! So, the Beagle and I drove past the Pittsburgh Zoo today to visit Vilsack Row in Morningside.

He makes that face when I sing to him. 

Vilsack Row is comprised of 18 row houses that Frederick G. Scheibler designed in 1913. They were commissioned by Leopold Vilsack, a prominent Pittsburgh business man who also rented office space to Scheibler.

They're grouped in four, eight, and then six flat-roofed units. You'll see geometric shapes and contrasting materials of red brick, white concrete and stucco.

These are a modest but interesting group of homes. Aurand writes, "There is no evidence that Scheibler or his client intended a radical undertaking; indeed, the commission was extremely modest in its program of eighteen row hoses, each just fifteen feet wide, with only five major rooms. The design was an outgrowth of Scheibler's early low-budget row house projects in both its sitting and design."

Sun rooms, which create two-story windowed walls, are cut inside the homes.  As for the signature Scheibler details, each set of doors is nestled under an arch.

But these homes must have been changed. Aurand writes about "the porches, suspended in space, [which are] just plain unnerving!" In this photo, you can see that the balconies were held up with only one thin post! Over the years, the porches that you see jutting into the air in the photo below must have been replaced with awnings.

Here is the same building, modified by 2013.

One more Scheibler detail: is that a stained glass window??

In The Progressive Architecture of Frederick G. Scheibler, Aurand offers a floorplan. He writes that the interiors are not as unique as the exteriors. 

Vilsack Row is another example of Frederick Scheibler using a modest design to create interesting, aesthetically pleasing yet affordable homes.

Update! On September 3, 2014, I found some shots of the interior of the end unit -- 1693. Its realtor called it a "Pottery Barn" style home. You'll recognize the rounded fireplaces from the Highland Towers!

Sunday, May 5, 2013

2619 Shady Avenue and 6243 Monitor Street, houses

After yesterday's post from Homewood, I promised my mom that I would stick to a friendlier neighborhood today! So, it was back to Squirrel Hill and back to 1912.

We already looked at the Beacon Street houses from the same year and neighborhood. Here are 2619 Shady Avenue and its sibling, right around the corner at 6243 Monitor.

2619 Shady Avenue 

2619 Shady Avenue 

6243 Monitor Street

6243 Monitor Street with 2619 Shady yonder

6243 Monitor Street, with 2619 Shady yonder


Two days after I posted this entry, the 6243 Monitor Street sold for $245,000. I found these photos on the realtor's website.