architects and their clients loved towers.
Always picturesque – often functional - towers were found on
residences, commercial buildings, schools, government buildings and,
libraries and churches. The
architects found ample precedent for towers in the styles they revived or
emulated, most especially Gothic and Romanesque.
Given this popularity, we are not surprised to see two towers at
Shadyside Presbyterian Church.
The lantern itself is
a tower, centrally located, cubical in form with a pyramid shaped roof.
In that sense, we worship within a tower.
More easily recognized as a tower is the cylindrical structure
attached to the north side of the building that houses the pastor’s
study and the music director’s office.
This round form is ubiquitous in Richardsonian Romanesque Revival
architecture, along with numerous other shapes.
Allegheny Courthouse Main Tower & Four Tower Types at Jail
A frequent model for
the church, the Allegheny County Courthouse and Jail displays a wide range
and large number of towers. Of
course, the dominant feature is tall main tower over the main entrance
which is partially counterbalanced by two shorter towers on the opposite
side of the courtyard. These
demonstrate an at least intended functionality.
The main tower was to provide storage space and to draw clean,
fresh air into the building from high above the city’s sooty streets.
The lower pair exhausted air from inside.
Courthouse Pavillion as Tower
Many features of this
government complex can be read as towers. The
corner pavilions can be seen as towers anchoring the four corners of the
courthouse and were referred to as such, during the architectural
competition. Half round
cylinders house judges’ chambers project from either side of the north
and south entrances to the courtyard.
Might these be the model for the pastor’s study at
Similar Use of Towers for Judges' Chambers and Pastor's Study
When used as office
space, such towers are both charming and awkward.
They allow views in three directions from a single vantage point.
(This made towers useful for defensive purposes in medieval
buildings – not a likely feature today.)
The semicircular plan, however, yields inefficient placement of
furniture, unless it is custom built.
There is precedent at Richardson's Trinity Church, Boston, for Shadyside's Pastor's Study.
Tower at Trinity Church
(photo courtesy Emily Slaughter, Southern Star Photography, NC)
Three firms made up
Tower at Sunnyledge, Dr. McClelland Residence
Several of the
private residences of the firm feature towers.
Shadyside member Dr. James McClelland built his home on the steep
Similar Towers at Boggs House & Shadyside
Towers often enclose
stairwells and express their function clearly. The North Side home of R.
H. Boggs has such a tower. Longtime
Pittsburghers will remember Boggs & Buhl department store.
In terms of feature for feature correspondence the Boggs tower
Tower carried over from medieval times by Sir Christopher Wren at London's St. James Church
A principal purpose
for church towers is to call
attention to themselves. Their
height distinctive shape allow them to be located among other buildings
from a distance. Also, they
often house bells to summon worshippers.
Towers were a feature extensively developed in medieval churches.
During the Renaissance, when Classical architecture was emulated,
towers with spires were retained, especially in the
Popular Tower of Richardson's Brattle Square Church
Some towers achieve
greater esteem than the buildings they serve.
When H. H. Richardson’s
Bellefield Tower & Cathedral of Learning Tower: All that remains and All there is
A similar situation
Two Towers at Pittsburgh Central Korean Church
Apse at Shadyside Church
Speaking of engaged towers, we might well identify a third tower at Shadyside. In 1938, the apse was added to the east end of the sanctuary for the communion table and mosaic. Its external form is a half-round tower.
Below is a Sampling of Towers