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Gwinner-Harter House

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William B. Negley House
1871–1872; 1912–1923 additions, Frederick J. Osterling; 1996 restoration, Edge Architects. 5061 5th Ave., Shadyside
  • Gwinner-Harter House (William B. Negley House) (Lu Donnelly)
  • (Photograph by Matthew Aungst)

This is the second oldest home of what remains from the days when Pittsburgh's 5th Avenue rivaled 5th Avenue in New York City. After World War I, many of the mansions in the Oakland section of 5th Avenue were demolished or turned into apartments, and this occurred here in the Shadyside neighborhood after World War II. This three-story Second Empire–style house built for attorney and banker William B. Negley is one of the few survivors. Edward Gwinner, a stone contractor, purchased the house in 1911, and commissioned Frederick Osterling to design a three-story addition to the west side of the house, and a single-story classically inspired porch in order to update the, by then, old-fashioned house. Gwinner expanded the small central entrance hall into a lavish marble room with an extravagant staircase, reminiscent of mansions in Newport, Rhode Island. In 1923, Osterling returned to design the interiors of three reception rooms; each is paneled in English oak and walnut, and two have carved limestone fireplace surrounds that reach the ceiling.

Dr. Leo Harter acquired the house in 1963 and began a decades-long restoration. In 1987, a fire on the third floor caused extensive damage to the house. Then in 1995, Joedda Sampson, a major force in the renewal of Pittsburgh historic properties, bought and restored the house, and hired Edge Architects for a contemporary redesign of the burnedout third floor's interior. The reborn house is the third in a row of superb 5th Avenue mansions, after the coolly classical Hillman House (1924, Edward P. Mellon) at number 5045 and the Rococo-style Moreland-Hoffstot House (1914, Paul Irwin) at number 5057. Older is the Gothic Revival Willow Cottage (Howe-Childs House), dating to around 1867, seven blocks away at 5918 5th Avenue, which has been handsomely restored and is part of Chatham University.

Writing Credits

Lu Donnelly et al.



  • 1871

  • 1912

  • 1996


What's Nearby


Lu Donnelly et al., "Gwinner-Harter House", [Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania], SAH Archipedia, eds. Gabrielle Esperdy and Karen Kingsley, Charlottesville: UVaP, 2012—,

Print Source

Cover: Buildings of PA vol 1

Buildings of Pennsylvania: Pittsburgh and Western Pennsylvania, Lu Donnelly, H. David Brumble IV, and Franklin Toker. Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 2010, 118-119.

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