“Live Worship Shop” House Tour 2018

The 4th annual “Live Worship Shop” House Tour took place on Saturday, October 20, 2018 from 11:00 AM to 4:00 PM.

10 N. Fremont Avenue

Christ the King Church is the former Emanuel’s Lutheran Church which had a very long history in Bellevue, occupying the building at 10 North Fremont Avenue from the time of its construction in 1908 until 2015.

In 1907 the Reverend B.F. Hankey, D.D. became the founder and first pastor in Bellevue of the Emanuel’s congregation. Soon afterward the congregation purchased a lot on North Fremont Avenue in Bellevue, adjacent to the streetcar line to West View. At that time Bellevue was a rapidly growing “streetcar suburb” that was attracting many former residents of Pittsburgh’s North Side neighborhood due to its clean air, attractive streets, and convenient transportation. W.H.C. Moore and H.G. Ruehl were contracted to erect a gray stone building to cost $17,340. The new church was dedicated on February 7, 1909. A bell tower was added at the front of the building in 1922, and a matching 15-room Parish House annex was built in 1927 at a cost of $40,000.

Despite the sudden death of the Reverend B.F. Hankey on November 5, 1930, Emanuel’s continued to expand during the pastorate of the Reverend G. Lawrence Himmelman, D.D., who came to Bellevue from Jeannette in June 1931. The confirmed membership numbered 489 by 1932. The congregation enlarged the church as it presently exists, extending the original building to join the Parish House, which greatly enlarged the sanctuary and increased seating by 150. Arthur Steinmark was the architect for the expansion which was completed by April 1942 and cost $62,000. The project included installation of a public address system and Schulmerich Carillon chimes, the stained glass window at the front of the sanctuary was moved to the rear, and a beautiful new window installed above the altar. A church history notes that despite wartime shortages and rationing which hindered new construction in Pittsburgh and across the nation, “with influential men on our committee…we were successful in securing steel and other materials after the market was closed to unrestricted buyers.” On April 22, 1942 members gathered to celebrate the successful completion of the project which they called “Building a Greater Emanuel’s.”    

The 13 stained glass windows along the sides of the sanctuary, designed and crafted by Hunt Studio, were completed in the 1950s at a cost of $7,600; they are symbolic in design and depict the major virtues in Christian life. Hunt Studio was founded in Pittsburgh’s West End by Henry Hunt in 1906 and is still in business today.

By the early 2000s, the Emanuel’s congregation was experiencing declining numbers, and regular attendance at weekly services had dwindled. Only a few years after celebrating its centennial in Bellevue, Emanuel’s closed its doors on July 12, 2015; fortunately they would not be closed for very long.

On December 14, 2015 the property was purchased by Christ the King Church, a small but dedicated non-denominational congregation led by Bishop George and Pastor Susan Beninate. Originally birthed in Bellevue 36 years ago, Christ the King Church held its earliest meetings in the former VFW and then moved to the YMCA on Lincoln Avenue. After worshipping in a succession of buildings in various towns around the Pittsburgh area, Christ the King Church finally found a permanent home at Emanuel’s in Bellevue, where the members enthusiastically set to building a dynamic ministry while restoring the church building to its former grandeur and also re-establishing its integral role in the Bellevue community. Although the building remained in beautiful condition overall, members faced the urgent task of addressing a serious moisture infiltration problem. The exterior stonework was re-pointed in 2018; the roof is now in the process of being restored and repaired; and in the near future, the basement social hall will be fully restored and reopened for use as an outreach to the public.

31 N. Howard Avenue

Dan and Linda Carroll are the owners of the large brick Tudor Revival home at 31 North Howard Avenue. The house is a fine example of Tudor Revival, a style most popular during the 1920s and 1930s, especially in suburban settings. The Carroll property was part of a three-acre tract owned by the Bayne family in the 19th century and acquired by William Jenkinson, an important real estate broker in Bellevue at the turn-of-the-century in April 1887. Jenkinson divided his property between North Howard and Thomas (North Fremont) Avenues into a plan of lots called the “William Jenkinson Plan.” In February 1909 the property was sold for $3,300, and the house was built soon after. It would stay in the same family until 1961. The house was used as a boarding house from the mid-1960’s through 1980. The current owners, Dan and Linda Carroll, acquired the property in 1984.

The owners strive to maintain the home while honoring its original features, like the original light fixtures in the living room. The front hallway light fixture, purchased from an antique shop in Bellevue, originated from a house in Brighton Heights. The stained glass windows at the top of the stairs and in the 2nd floor bathroom are also original to the house.

The first floor bathroom was originally a pantry, then made into a pink and black tiled bathroom with baby blue fixtures. The current owners updated the bathroom in the mid-90s. They also converted the original nursery into the small 2nd floor office.

In the kitchen, a framed area of plaster shows the year 1915 and the name John Davidson Ballard, details that were discovered when wallpaper was removed. John and Margaret Ballard were the grandchildren of Margaret J. Davidson, the house’s first owner. Somewhere else was written “John Davidson Ballard loves Margaret.”

The Carrolls feature many works of art in their home including a print in the hallway by Robert Qualters, a painting in the first floor hallway by Bellevue artist Phyllis Riegle, a flower print in the 2nd floor hallway by Pittsburgh artist Barry Jeter, and two paintings by Bosnian/British artist Azra Palos. In addition to these beautiful works of art, perhaps the most loved view in the home is the sight of downtown Pittsburgh seen from the front bedroom window.

Lincoln Avenue Brewery — 538 Lincoln Avenue

The three-story brick building at the northeast corner of Lincoln and Hawley Avenues that will soon house Bellevue’s first microbrewery was constructed in 1902 by the Bellevue Realty Savings & Trust Company. It occupies Lot 1 in the “T.M. Bayne Plan of Lots,” a subdivision laid out in the mid-1890s. Nineteenth century maps reveal that it was the first building to stand on this prominent corner lot in the heart of Bellevue’s business district. The original address was 440 Lincoln Avenue.

The building was constructed at a time when Bellevue was growing rapidly following the extension of streetcar lines from Pittsburgh’s North Side. Real estate developers bought up vacant land in the borough and laid out new streets and subdivisions. The Bellevue Realty Savings & Trust Co. opened for business on July 1, 1902 and was heavily involved in the local real estate market. It had a real estate department which marketed “choice properties for sale and rent in Bellevue, Avalon, and Ben Avon.” In 1922 the bank moved to a new, larger building on the corner of Lincoln and Balph Avenues. That building now houses Citizens Bank.

After the Bellevue Realty Savings & Trust Co. vacated the building at the corner of Lincoln and Hawley, its use during the following decade is unclear. By the mid-1930s it housed a dress shop on the first floor and apartments above. Many advertisements for the business appeared in local newspapers during this period.

Longtime local residents remember that during the late 1950s through 1960s the building was owned by Robert Sheetz whose Sheetz Fried Chicken and Fish restaurant occupied the first floor. There were broasted chickens turning on spits in the front window, and people recall that the smells coming from the building were wonderful. The Sheetz restaurant was followed by a George Aiken Fried Chicken take-out restaurant in the late 1960s and early 1970s and then a Baskin Robbins ice cream shop which lasted from 1973 to about 1980. In 1986 the building was acquired by Dr. Domenic DeFrank and converted into a dentist office, a use that continued for several decades.

In November 2017, 538 Lincoln Avenue commenced a new chapter in its colorful history when it was purchased by Bellevue residents Grant and Lisa Saylor and Joel and Amy Haldeman. The new owners shared a vision of creating a community brewery by and for the people of Bellevue, a new enterprise that would contribute to the rejuvenation of the borough’s business district. To that end dozens of local volunteers donated countless hours of their personal time to renovating the ground floor space during the winter, spring, summer, and fall of 2018, an ambitious project that is now nearing completion and which will breathe new life into the old bank building.

124 Sheridan Avenue

Suzanne Harper’s home at 124 Sheridan Avenue is an early Foursquare house with a combination of Queen Anne and Colonial Revival stylistic elements. It is the oldest house on the 2018 tour, probably built about 1886. The property was part of the 1-acre 29-perch “Lot D” resulting from the partition of the James Sterritt farm, purchased by Joseph B. Smith on May 6, 1876. In 1883 he sold the present Harper lot to John Young, a 33 year old merchant tailor and prominent figure in Bellevue real estate, and in November 1886 it was conveyed to John Young’s wife Eliza. The Youngs and their children owned the property until 1945.

The exterior of the house is almost completely intact, with no significant alterations. The numerous leaded glass windows, ornamental brickwork, and well-preserved front porch with its full-height columns and turned balustrade are especially noteworthy. The interior also is immaculately maintained and exhibits many fine period details, such as the ornate oak staircase, the multiple tile and marble fireplaces — many with elaborate oak surrounds and mantles, cast-iron inserts, and covers — wood inlay in the floors, and original oak woodwork throughout.

Suzanne Harper moved into her stately home in 1977. However, it was not love at first sight. Back then the house was divided into a first floor and second floor rental and had most of the stained glass windows and several of the fireplaces stripped out. Much of the woodwork was covered in several layers of  paint (orange was big at the time), and all of the walls were covered in old wallpaper.

It took years of searching to find stained glass windows that fit the openings and fireplace mantels that suited the style of the house. The faux grained woodwork is original and the parquet floors were a pleasant surprise when the aged carpet was removed. Of course, the floors had to be painstakingly refinished. The large front porch is a great place to relax and enjoy the crisp fall air, and the back porch is charming and private, surrounded by trees and the sounds of water splashing in the fountain.

You won’t be able to miss Suzanne’s extensive collection of antique dolls in the living room and teddy bears in the guest room. Not long after moving into the house, she developed a love for the beautiful faces and meticulous craftsmanship of these vintage dolls. Several of the dolls in her collection were made in France and Germany, date from the 1830s, and feature leather bodies. It’s amazing to think how much little girls treasured these dolls for them to have survived in such pristine condition today.

48 North Euclid Avenue

The home of Bradley J. and Sarah E. Wheeler is located at 48 North Euclid Avenue. It occupies Lot 21 in the “Roseburg Revised Plan of Lots,” a tract of 13 acres between North Fremont and North Bryant Avenues that was subdivided into 94 building lots in 1905.

The brick Foursquare house at 48 North Euclid is representative of the substantial single-family homes envisioned by the Roseburg Land Company for its building lots which were intended to attract “the leading business and professional men of Pittsburgh.” The home was built in 1914-1915 and sold to the present owners, Sarah E. and Bradley J. Wheeler, in April 2017.

The Wheeler home is a classic example of one of the early 20th century’s most popular residential building forms, the American Foursquare. The entry features leaded glass sidelights and transom, with other leaded glass windows throughout the house. Highlights of the interior include multiple tiled fireplaces, original varnished woodwork, pocket doors, original light fixtures, and an impressive second floor storage pantry.

Since their home purchase, the Wheelers have been busy remodeling to bring the home up to date with some of the conveniences we expect in 2018 but have endeavored to keep the period feel of the home.  They have done much of the work themselves with the help of their very capable (and patient) parents.  The entry way has been divided to provide a coat closet and first floor powder room.  The lovely bench,

previously in the entry, was rebuilt in the dining room as a window seat. Moldings and doors from the kitchen renovation were salvaged and used in the entry way remodel, with new woodwork designed to match the existing. The kitchen, when the Wheelers purchased the home, was approximately 10 feet square with a stove, refrigerator, farmhouse sink, and a single built-in shelf. Those 100 square feet had three doorways and two windows, no cabinets, or countertops. During the renovation, the footprint of the kitchen was not expanded, but the wall between the kitchen and dining room was removed, the basement doorway was moved into a hallway, a window was closed, cabinets and countertops were added, and the butler’s pantry and laundry chute were kept.

The third floor displays most of the Wheelers’ efforts in modernizing the house. There was a single light and no HVAC on the third floor, but there was a beautiful open space with lovely floors and views. Cracked plaster and the need for updated wiring and HVAC led to a full removal of five tons of lath and plaster from the third floor. New wiring, insulation, HVAC, windows, full bath, closet, and refinishing of the woodwork have turned this space into a spacious master bedroom and bath with a walk-in closet.

93 North Euclid Avenue

The brick and shingle Colonial Revival cottage at 93 North Euclid Avenue is owned by Justin Greenawalt and Christopher Eddie. Construction of 93 North Euclid Avenue spanned from late 1911 to early 1912.

93 North Euclid Avenue is an example of an Eclectic Period cottage. Eclecticism, sometimes called the Historicist Period, was a late nineteenth and early twentieth-century architectural period characterized by the sampling and incorporation of varying historical architectural elements to create a stylistic language that was new and original. In architecture, these elements often included structural features, stylistic motifs, and ornament. Whereas earlier architectural styles focused on purity in stylistic expression, styles of the Eclectic Period focused on the building’s overall aesthetic value.

93 North Euclid features elements from several historic architectural styles while also incorporating numerous contemporary design features. With its steep gambrel roof and wide front-gable dormer, the house borrows heavily from the Colonial Revival style. However, the cantilevered dining room bay and the use of cedar shingles is a nod to the late Victorian and Shingle styles. Details, including the interior woodwork, are simple and clean, referencing the growing popularity of Craftsman design in the early 1900’s. Many of the details inside the house, including doors, trim, banisters, and fireplace mantles were manufactured by the Curtis & Yale Company, a Pittsburgh-based division of the Curtis Lumber & Millwork Company of Clinton, Iowa.

In considering the plan of the house, 93 North Euclid was altogether different from most of its contemporaries. The “Reception Hall House,” frequently identified as an “American Foursquare,” and sometimes referred to colloquially as “The Pittsburgh Box,” became the preferred model of developers in the Roseburg Plan. However, 93 North Euclid displays a more modern plan. The house is built on the “living room plan,” wherein the entry opens directly into the living room, dispensing with the typical, formal reception hall and parlor. A more egalitarian design, guests were received in a spacious living room — welcomed into the house instead of being left waiting at the door.

The first floor plan is a balance between contemporary and traditional. Dark woodwork, stained glass, and pocket doors sample from the Victorian period, but the plan is open. The living room flows into the dining room, but the use and purpose of each space is clearly defined. The stained glass window in the dining room is traditional in its subject matter — featuring roses and foliage — but subtle Craftsman influence is apparent in the strong verticality of the lead came and the earthiness of the amber slag glass. Abiding by the conventions of the day, the kitchen is well removed from the more public spaces of the house. The house originally featured a butler’s pantry between the dining room and kitchen (removed in the 2011 rehabilitation). Unlike larger homes of the period, the house was designed to function without the aid of servants or staff.

Upstairs, three bedrooms, a bathroom, and a staircase to the third floor radiate off a central hall. A second stained glass window illuminates the stair landing. The stained glass exhibits both Craftsman and Art Nouveau influence with striking verticality coupled with curvilinear forms.

On January 2, 2015, current owners, Justin Greenawalt and Christopher Eddie purchased the house. As a professional Architectural Historian and Historic Preservationist, Justin has concerned himself with the continued rehabilitation and restoration of the house. Together, Justin and Christopher view themselves not as owners, but as curators of 93 North Euclid preserving the house for the generations that will follow.

68 North Harrison Avenue

The 1906 brick Foursquare home of Samuel and Angela Onuska stands on the southeast corner of North Harrison (formerly Seville) and Teece (formerly Bayne) Avenues. It occupies Lot 69 in the “Roseburg Revised Plan of Lots,” a tract of 13 acres between North Fremont and North Bryant Avenues that was subdivided into 94 building lots.

Lot 69 was acquired by 51-year old Sarah J. Elste on July 6, 1906, and the house probably was built soon afterward. Sarah’s husband was 53-year old grocer Charles Este, proprietor of the Bellevue Market at 547-549 Lincoln Avenue, now Dietz Floral. In 1904 their daughter Anna married William Sample, who worked at the Bellevue Market and would become co-owner of the business with Clarence Elste in 1907. At Sarah J. Elste’s death in November 1917 she left the house to her daughters but provided for a life estate to her husband Charles. The house remained in the Elste’s family until 1930, and had several owners until the mid 1980’s. The house then stood empty for decades until April 2016 when it was acquired by the present owners, Samuel and Angela Onuska, who are now undertaking a comprehensive renovation.

The Onuskas faced an enormous rehabilitation challenge. Deterioration of the roof had allowed water and snow to accumulate on interior floors, walls, and wood structural members. The box gutters were rusted, rotted, and decayed for 50 percent of their length, allowing additional water to run along the brick walls and cause damage. Approximately half of the concrete window/door sills and lintels were cracked and required replacement. Many of the joist members were either rotted or cracked, the footers for structural columns had sagged, and the stairs and landings were water damaged. Nearly all of the plumbing supply and drain lines had been removed from the house prior to purchase, and presumably, sold for scrap. All of the stained glass had been removed from the house either through salvage or theft. The front porch with its supporting concrete columns is original.

The initial task was to evict a family of raccoons who were living on the third floor and had the run of the house. They left on their own when Sam and Angela installed motion sensor lights which encouraged the raccoons to find a quieter and darker home.

The next task was to make the building weather tight, requiring replacement of the roof and repairs to the gutters and eaves. All three chimneys were significantly damaged and were disassembled by hand without the use of tools. Some of the cracked radiators were scrapped, several were salvaged for similar homes that needed replacements, and a couple were used on the set of “Last Flag Flying” when the show was filming in Pittsburgh; one pair were retained for use as decorative pieces. All plumbing and wiring were replaced.

The Onuskas were able to salvage the pocket doors and plan to re-use them at the entrance to the living room and from the master to the main bath. They demolished and secured the original tile work at the entry and salvaged many decorative windows and the original main staircase wood paneling which will be saved and re-used. Many slabs of marble and stone found in the yard and basement will be re-used for steps, kitchen surfaces, and in certain tile/stone floors. Previous owners had closed off all of the fireplaces, so Sam and Angela opened several and plan to convert them to gas-burning. They will maintain most of the house’s interior layout while making minor modifications to wall locations.


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