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Allegheny West

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1860–1900. Bounded by W. North, Allegheny, and Ridge aves. and Brighton Rd.
  • Rhodes House (Photograph by Chris Siewers)
  • Gertrude Stein House (Photograph by Leepaxton, CC BY-SA 4.0)

A large post–Civil War mansion on Western Avenue is one of the settings for Marcia Davenport's 1943 novel The Valley of Decision, about a family of Pittsburgh industrialists from 1873 to 1941. The Joshua and Eliza Rhodes House (c. 1866; 939 Western Avenue), in which the family of a traction czar lived from the 1860s through the 1920s, may have been the inspiration for that setting. Certainly it constitutes a fascinating remnant of late-nineteenth-century Pittsburgh. The Italianate house, of a simple sort, added florid hood molds and brackets to its plain brick walls. The vibrantly colored interior of the house, which is now a bed-and-breakfast, has original cabinetry, and a ballroom and servant quarters are located in a structure to the rear. The brick- and-stone-veneer houses in the 800 and 900 blocks of Beech Avenue, between Allegheny Avenue and Brighton Road, give a perfect idea of upper-middle-class Pittsburgh life after the Civil War. The blocks, unbroken and further unified by the roof cornice, are enlivened by the overlaying rhythm of prominent door and window moldings and punctuated by the occasional veranda. Two of the residents here were famous not for wealth but for their literary talent. Gertrude Stein was born at 850 Beech in 1874; Mary Roberts Rinehart wrote a dozen of her mysteries in the solid house at number 954.

Writing Credits

Lu Donnelly et al.



  • 1860


What's Nearby


Lu Donnelly et al., "Allegheny West", [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, 92-92.

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