Monday, November 23, 2009

Christmas in Allegheny West

Some of the greatest attractions of our North Side home are the neighborhoods within the North Side itself. About a mile to the west of The Priory is Allegheny West, a late Victorian era neighborhood which was home to the well-to-do and the really well-to-do. Spectacular mansions on Ridge Avenue, the former Millionaires' Row, were home to many of Pittsburgh's industrialists, including B.F Jones, one of the founders of Jones & Laughlin Steel (now LTV Steel) and the Thaw family. (A Thaw scion, Harry K. Thaw, was involved in a scandal at the turn of the 20th century where he shot and killed noted New York architect Stanford White, who had been having an affair with his wife, the showgirl Evelyn Nesbit. This incident and the ensuing trial was memorably portrayed on film in "The Girl in the Red Velvet Swing" (1955) and in "Ragtime" (1981)). Many of these mansions still exist, and are now home to offices and classrooms of the Community College of Allegheny County. Down the hill a ways were the homes of the prosperous, but not super rich. Many of these homes have been lovingly restored; one is home to Steelers owner (and now Ambassador to the Republic of Ireland) Dan Rooney and his wife Pat. Lincoln Avenue and Beech Avenue are the highlights (Beech Avenue was also home to writer Gertrude Stein and novelist Mary Roberst Rinehart).

Recently, the Post-Gazette ran an interesting story on Allegheny West and its upcoming Christmas House Tour. The House Tour is well worth a look - in many ways it is like walking back in time. Tickets on the regular tour cost $20 per person; there are some speciality tours, including a tea tour, which you may also want to inquire about. Tickets may be purchased through the Allegheny West community website,, or by calling (412) 323-8884.

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