History and General Information.
The Schenley Farms Historic District is largely the design of developer F.F Nicola, who in 1905 conceived of a “model city” on a verdant tract of land in the Oakland area of Pittsburgh. Nicola envisioned a fine residential enclave adjoining a monumental civic complex, a combination of model suburb and City Beautiful.
By design, a nineteenth-century air of gentility pervades the residential portion of the district, though at the same time, the most modern amenities are provided. Houses by prominent local architects in the then fashionable revival styles are uniformly terraced along streets named for British and American literary figures including Parkman, Lytton and Tennyson and Ruskin. A wide boulevard endemic of City Beautiful planning separates the residences from the prestigious array of civic, institutional and cultural buildings that comprise the urban component of the district. Though the generous amenities and design controls of Nicola’s development made the residential area a neighborhood for the upper middle class, the civic portion of the district had broader appeal and accessibility. This unusual blending of urban and suburban qualities, within an impressive architectural context, makes Schenley Farms a significant document of early twentieth century architecture and planning.
The Schenley Farms Historic District is located approximately 2.5 miles east of the center of Pittsburgh, and lies within Oakland, a large glacial terrace some 200 feet above the Monongahela and Allegheny River valleys. The approximately 170 acre tract belonged to William Penn, who conveyed it to Edward Smith in 1791. It remained in the O’Hara family until the death of descendant Mary Schenley in 1903.
The Parkman Wall, a remarkable feat of engineering!
Parkman avenue lies at the north end of Schenley Farms.
Some Schenley Farms History
submitted by Pat Chew, May, 2015
An interesting and informative article about the development of Schenley Farms and the creation of the historic district:
“Schenley Farms: A Quiet Oakland ‘Island’ Time Spared,” by Jerry Bird, The Pittsburgh Press — May 23, 1982
A Map of the Architects of Schenley Farms, by Jonathan Daniel
submitted by the SFCA Board, February 22, 2013
This interactive Map of the Architects of the Schenley Farms Residences was created and developed by former Schenley Farms resident, Jonathan Daniel. The map not only aims to identify the architects, year of construction, and original owners of the Schenley Farms Residences, but also serves as a compendium of old pictures and press snippets of the neighborhood.
Click on this link to go directly to the map:
A few thoughts from Jonathan Daniel:
My interest in Schenley Farms began just after a walk-through of 4360 Centre Avenue in 2011. The home was on the market, and I was curious about its architect, its origins, and if it was featured in any early documentation. I also wanted to buy the house. A quick search on Google revealed the house’s architect as Louis Stevens (from a PHLF newsletter), that is was built in 1911 (from clippings in Google News), and that there were plenty of old pictures (from “The Builder” magazine and “Letters from Schenley Farms Dwellers” book). Instantly, I was hooked on the neighborhood and the house. We purchased 4360 Centre in November 2011, fixed it up, and then sadly had to sell the house in June 2013 for new opportunities in Washington, D.C.
After leaving, my interest in Schenley Farms continued: I wanted to know all of the architects of the homes in Schenley Farms. The neighborhood is a concentration of works from prominent Pittsburgh architects of the time—a product of the strict standards set by the developer Francis Nicola—but many of the homes were not formerly identified in one location. Once again, Google did not let me down, and the resulting map not only aims to identify the architects, year of construction, and original owners of the Schenley Farms residences, but also serves as a compendium of old pictures and press snippets of the neighborhood. Some other discoveries came along the way as well, such as commissions from the Mercer Tile Works and the ironworker Samuel Yellin. Four large homes do not exist today, their demolitions driving the designation of Schenley Farms as a National Historic District.
The map continues to evolve, and I welcome submissions and corrections to enrich this resource for the neighborhood’s residents and admirers. Please email these to jonathan.p.daniel [at] gmail [dot] com. Many thanks for help and contributions from residents Mary McDonough and Sue Hughes, and from Martin Aurand at the CMU Architecture Library.
Schenley Farms 1997 House Tour Brochure
Click on a link below to view the Schenley Farms 1997 House Tour Brochure, in low or high resolution: