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!


  1. Again, the cheap, but insensitive changes that have been made to Vilsack Row has deprived this design of its very modernist feel that predated the Bauhaus by almost a decade. Why can't people lucky enough to own a Scheibler building just simply restore original features that become perhaps structurally unsound instead of radically altering them with cheap replacement solutions such as what has been done here.

  2. I agree. I am a descendant of F.G. Scheibler and would like to talk to the blog poster…I'd love a tour of Scheibler homes when next I can come to the Pittsburgh area.

  3. I agree-- I would like to get in touch with the blogger of this site. Do you have contact info? Am related to Scheibler through my father, who was his nephew.

    1. Hi Ingrid, I'm the one who blogs about Frederick Scheibler. Thank you for commenting on my blog. My email is jolene.m@gmail.com. Please contact me so I can reply! Jolene