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Cement City District

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1916–1917, Louis D. Brandt. Bounded by Walnut and Chestnut sts., Beeler Alley, and Modisette Ave.

Cement City is what its name implies: a group of eighty concrete buildings that the Lambie Concrete House Corporation built for American Steel and Wire Company's middle managers on a steep hillside overlooking Donora. The builders used steel forms to mold the wet, reinforced, poured-in-place, Portland concrete. For the first time, the concrete included 6,650 tons of blast furnace slag from local steel mills. Eight different plans with low-pitched roofs and wide overhanging eaves were offered to meet the needs of one hundred families. The houses were finished with stucco and painted one of four prescribed colors. The company's “Ellwood Style” fencing enclosed the backyards. Because these houses were for managers, Cement City offered indoor plumbing and electric lighting, wood floors over the concrete slabs, and gasfired hot-air heat. The company provided a flower garden and tennis courts to make living in Donora more desirable. At the time of their construction, the houses of Cement City created a great deal of interest and were visited by engineers and technical students as models of affordable, sanitary, and fireproof housing on a mass scale, a lifelong interest of Louis Brandt. After 1943, the houses were purchased by individual tenants.

Writing Credits

Lu Donnelly et al.


What's Nearby


Lu Donnelly et al., "Cement City District", [Donora, 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, 295-295.

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