Pittsburgh Mansion Book Captures History

In the 19th century Pittsburgh was recognized as a major manufacturing center.  The subsequent rise of the steel industry created a wave of prosperity that prompted a wash of extravagant residences to be built.  What better premise for a book.  Pittsburgh’s Mansions explores the stately homes of prominent residents from the 1830s through the 1920s.  The author is making a rare appearance at the Oakmont Library on Saturday, January 25 at 1:00 p.m.  Melanie Linn Gutowski is a writer, historian and lifelong resident of Pittsburgh. She has published many history features in western Pennsylvania and national publications.

As a child Melanie  took art classes at Baywood, the Alexander King estate in Highland Park. The experience left her with a lasting love for art and the grandeur of old houses.  The 30-year-old author grew up in Stanton Heights and now lives in Sharpsburg in a red-brick, Queen Anne-style house from 1905.  She has a BS  in the History of Art and Architecture from the University of Pittsburgh and an MS in Professional writing from Chatham University.

Below is a design by architect George Orth completed in 1900. Wilpen Hall was the Sewickley Heights summer estate of William Penn Snyder Sr. who was the founder of Shenango Furnace and Shenango Steamship Companies.  It was designed by architect George Orth and completed in 1900 is on the National Register of Historic Places.

Shadyside Hospital founder Dr. James H. McClelland lived in the  house that is now a bed and breakfast on Fifth Avenue in Shadyside called Sunnyledge. Across the street from it is the the restored English manor of Willis McCook who was Henry Clay Frick’s attorney. The McCook mansion is now part of a boutique hotel called The Mansions on Fifth.

Sunnyledge Boutique Hotel & Tea Room

On the North Side sits the West North Avenue mansion of department store founder Russell Boggs which was restored in 1998 and became the Inn on the Mexican War Streets.

The book’s cover shows Lyndhurst as the Squirrel Hill home of William Thaw Sr.  His daughter Alice Cornelia Thaw was married in the house in 1903 to the Seventh Marquess of Hertford and became the Countess of Yarmouth. Lyndhurst was demolished in 1944 so this book is the only way you can capture the integrity of this estate.  You will simply gasp when you see the entry hall embellished with a grand staircase trimmed in ornate ironwork, tapestries and stained-glass panels.  But all of these mansions will take your breath away.  This 127-page book serves as a wonderful visual tour for the precious estates that were restored and the unfortunate ones that were demolished.


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