The Long View


Through various research projects, I have learned that Shadyside Church yields fascinating artifacts.  Sometimes they answer questions.  Sometimes they pose new questions.  It is my nature to want to track down the new answers.  Sometimes it is best just to appreciate the find.

Two fascinating photographs in the church’s archives are gems in their own right, even based only their plain evidence.  They depict the church under construction (probably late winter 1890) and after completion of the chapel (in 1892).  Their viewpoint is remarkable:  from an elevated position to the south of the church, obviously above Fifth Avenue.

They are contained in an envelope postmarked 1938 addressed to the mother of Shadyside’s long-time member, Mr. Robert Thomson.  The inscription on the reverse of each indicates they were taken from “ Grandview , ” the property of S. Jarvis Adams.  A map dated 1890 locates this between Fifth Avenue and Beeler Street .  Mr. Adams was a prominent industrialist and a member of Calvary Episcopal Church.


Left: 1890 Map with red circle showing approximate camera placement.  Church shown above street label  Westminster.  The property labeled Jas. H. McClelland is "Sunnyledge" (Dr. McClelland's home & office), today a bed & breakfast. Right:  Church under construction. The post extending above the center of the church is the "story pole" which was used to set elevations of the parts of the building.  Close inspection shows that a line of construction sheds extends along the church on Westminster Place.

Reverse of photo "View of Shadyside showing Shadyside Presbyterian Church in process of construction. Taken from "Grandview" home of S. Jarvis Adams"


Because of subsequent construction, it is impossible stand at the same place of the original photos to duplicate the viewpoint.  Thanks to the generosity of Warwick House, I was able to photograph from the adjacent property.  Warwick House's location is approximately where the Stewart property is shown on the map.  Of course, trees partially block the view, but a sunny morning and Winter’s lack of foliage permitted a sense of the scene today.


1892 View of Church & neighborhood from S. J. Adams property

2012 View of Church & neighborhood from Warwick House adjacent to former Adams property


1892 & 2012 Views of Church


A later map (1899) identifies other properties seen in the photos.   The property from which the photos were taken is labeled Emma V. Adams.

X Camera Location, 1 Jennings, 2 Porter, 3 Church , 4 Manse, 5 Lincoln, 6 Spencer , 7 Macbeth , 8 Pitcairn;  #3, #6 & #7 still exist in 2012




G.M. Hopkins Maps from Historic Pittsburgh