Pittsburgh Maps Collection is a wonderful on-line resource of
the Historical Society of Western Pennsylvania at the
Center. Among the maps are
city atlases and plat plans - street-by-street maps identifying
property ownership and indicating major buildings.
These documents were updated periodically and show a
remarkable amount of detail of the shape of larger structures.
They serve as a diagrammatic record of the three churches
that served Shadyside Presbyterian over the years. (See also
- Atlas of the Cities of Pittsburgh, Allegheny and Adjoining
63 (Click on link for the church under “Buildings on Current
First Church Building
version shows our original frame structure (completed 1867)
which occupied the space where the Chapel is now.
It accurately depicts the “T” shape of the church
on the corner property (highlighted in green) along with
what is likely the manse.
Surrounding properties bear the familiar names of
founders and early leaders:
Negley, Aiken, Pitcairn, Renshaw and others.
Note that street plans have altered over the years.
- shown here connecting Ellsworth to Fifth - is today just
half a block long terminating in a cul-de-sac.
occupied the present
- Atlas of the Vicinity of the Cities Pittsburgh and Allegheny: Plate
31 (Zoom in near the “S” in
Second Church Building
|An 1886 map from the Allegheny County Atlas is of
slightly different character than the
Gothic Revival second church is seen just above the “e”
alongside the original building (above the “t”).
The manse is not shown on the property - which
appears to be bounded by a street connecting Amberson and
Pitcairn, north of the church through the location of the
present Parish Hall. Careful
observers will note that the properties are much larger than
those found in the neighborhood today.
In part, this reflects the rural nature of Shadyside.
In part, it hints at the comfortable means of
is during the time nearby
was developing into “Millionaires’ Row.”
The property is depicted eleven years after the
second church was completed and four years before the third
Volume 2 - East End of Pittsburgh (North): Wards 18-21 & 37: Plate
Third Church Building
|By 1904, the plat plan shows the present church
(1890) and chapel (1892).
Although they have always been joined by an arcaded
ambulatory, the delineator shows a separation - perhaps
because the walkway is not completely closed.
He pays close attention to detail, showing a
projection of the building at the front entrance (near the
“S” in Shadyside). This
represents a wooden vestibule, apparently appended to reduce
draftiness in the sanctuary, a problem before the narthex
screen was added in 1920.
Since this draftsman was so careful, one wonders what
he was showing with the projection at the lower left hand
corner of the church. It
does not conform to the outline of the south porch and it
disappears in later plat plans.
The right-of-way to the north has been abandoned and
the property owned by Mary Porter Lincoln, a donor for
another landmark church close by - First Baptist on North Bellefield Avenue.
Across Westminster from the church is the property of her
brother, George Loring Porter, also important in the
construction of First Baptist.
Volume 2 - East End (South): Wards 7 and 14-15: Plate
|Two external modifications appear on the 1923
plat plan: the
chapel was extended northward in 1908 and the front
vestibule was removed after a narthex was created.
A pathway passes between the church and chapel,
through the present cloister, and approaches some sort of
small out building at the northeast corner of the property
(seen in lower left of photo).
The manse is carefully drawn, as it was in the 1904
plan. The A. R.
D. Gillespie home on the opposite corner of Amberson &
Westminster was a later manse for Shadyside.
By now, the only vestiges of the
right-of-way are dotted lines on the map.
Perusal of other parts of this map show that many
Fifth Avenue mansions still exist, but some of the larger
properties near the church have been divided into smaller
Volume 2 - East End (South): Wards 7, 14 and 15: Plate
Comparison of 1923
& 1939 Detail
|The relatively minor changes to the outline of
the church buildings in the 1939 version do not hint at the
major changes to the church interior.
Superficially, only a connection between church and
chapel and a small semicircular apse appear.
In fact, the worship space transformed from a
central-pulpit, Victorian theater-style auditorium to a
sleek, divided-chancel, Word and Sacrament sanctuary,
influenced by the ecumenical movement.
The connection to the chapel housed office space.
This remodeling, after a decade of national economic
depression, evidences the ample resources and abiding faith
of the congregation seventy years ago.
Shadysiders of today would recognize the
configuration of streets and homes seen on this plan.
After Parish Hall
Pittsburgh Maps Collection ends with 1939, but the church,
chapel and early 50s Parish Hall addition can just be
discerned on a US Geological Survey topographical map.
The Parish Hall included fellowship-gymnasium space,
a stage, classrooms and a kitchen.
At the same time, the chapel was remodeled and
renamed in honor of Shadyside’s beloved long-time pastor,
Hugh Thomson Kerr.
Aerial View from Google
|Under Dr. Kerr’s successors, Howard Scharfe and
Robert Cleveland Holland, the church and its ministries continued to
grow. The need
for classroom and meeting space led to a “north porch,”
mirroring the shape (but not exact size) of the original
entrance porch on the south.
Over a century, as the congregation and its mission
increased, corresponding structure was added, where and how
the functional needs dictated.
Today, mapping data is gathered, not on the ground,
but by aerial and satellite photography.
Shadyside’s “organically grown” shape is seen
in this view from Google Earth.
growth is seen in the additions and alterations which are a
part of the church's Building Community ministry theme.
your questions & comments.