Secular Lanterns


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We have traced lanterns of Romanesque churches, beginning with the Old Salamanca Cathedral, to Trinity Church , Boston , to Shadyside Presbyterian.  We found numerous lantern churches in Pittsburgh after the Shadyside precedent.  We even surveyed several of the many lantern churches nationwide.  However, we can also find lantern towers used on various kinds of non-ecclesiastical buildings.  Here, we look at three, of which two have a connection to Shadyside Church .

Kansas City Market House (1)

In Kansas City , during the 1890s, an unknown architect designed a market house with a central lantern.  In fact, if the commercial wing (a really long transept!) in the photograph were absent, one might readily read the structure as a church.  The typical function of a lantern, bringing light into a central space, would have served this market well.  This building was torn down.

P&LE Railroad Station, Coraopolis (2)

Shepley, Rutan & Coolidge is best known in Pittsburgh as the architects of Shadyside Church .  They also designed Masonic Hall, downtown, now gone.  There is little awareness that they designed a railroad station that still stands.  On Mill Street in Coraopolis, the firm built the station for the Pittsburgh & Lake Erie Railroad.  A somewhat miniaturized lantern is the dominant architectural feature.  Like similar towers for railways, this probably served as an observation post along the tracks for the stationmaster.  Although it is on the National Register of Historic Places, its condition is precarious.  After its life as a station, it served as warehouse space for a store.  An effort is underway to save the structure, with possible adaptive re-use.  See http://www.saveourstation.org/ which contains some confusing dates and a misattribution to H. H. Richardson.

Similar Lanterns at Shadyside Church & Shakespeare School

A second connection to Shadyside Church can be inferred merely by observing the Shakespeare School ís lantern design.  Its tower duplicates the churchís except in size and details of the dormers.  The function of the lantern here is not clear.  Shakespeare was built in 1892, two years after the completion of the church, at the very far eastern end of Shadyside.  After it ceased operating as a school, it was sold in 1956.  Later it was demolished to make way for a grocery store.  The photo of children and teachers reminds us that many memories are tied to buildings.

Shakespeare School Students & Teachers (3)

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(1) Paul Lawson, The Spirit of H. H. Richardson on the Midland Prairies, Iowa State University Press, 1988

(2) From W. C. Kidney, Pittsburgh Architectural Landmarks, Pittsburgh History & Landmarks Foundation, 1997

(3)  Photo courtesy of the estate of Elizabeth Hoeftman, used by permission of her niece Beverly.