Manchester Historic District
The Manchester District was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1975. Portions of the content on this web page were adapted from a copy of the original nomination document.  Adaptation copyright © 2008, The Gombach Group.
The Manchester Historic District, built from about 1860 to 1900, is virtually a catalogue of mid to late Victorian eclectic architectural styles. This concentration of 19th century housing contains individual and semi-detached houses and numerous sections of row housing flush with the sidewalks in the classical urban pattern. Most of the district consists of two or three story structures, three bays wide, with mansard or pitched roof and one or two dormers. Most structures are brick although there is also stone and frame constructions. However, considerable architectural variety is also displayed in form, ornateness, and sophistication.
The 1200 and 1300 blocks of Sheffield Street display the overall similarity yet individual variety that comprises the district. The houses have mansard roofs with cast iron crestings, brick and Richardsonian rock-faced lintels and sills, porches of ornately turned woodwork, some with turrets to one side, elaborate stained glass transoms, and oval gable windows. Some houses have elaborate Classical cornices modeled in burnt brick. Others have ornate, low-relief designs of the Eastlake and Queen Anne styles on numerous gables and pediments above porches.
The north side of the 1300 block of Liverpool Street is composed of semi-detached houses placed so close together that they give the impression of being a continuous row. Each house is three bays wide, two and one-half stories high, with mansard roofs, double porches with slim, jig-saw ornamented pillars that occupy the four central bays of each unit.
All of the houses of Manhattan Street have Victorian jig-saw porches with turned columns and ornate lattice work below Classical cornices. These houses are two bays wide, three stories high with simple corbeled brick cornices and plain lintels and sills. The roofs are both mansard and pitched.
The simplest housing are the worker's houses at 1307-1309 Franklin Street, and the 1400 block of Faulsey Street. These are of brick or frame construction, two or three bays in width, most with low-pitched roofs. The window lintels, sills, portals, and cornices are plain or articulated in simple Classical manner.
Interspersed throughout the district are numerous corner buildings with Victorian shop fronts dating from the 1870's. These Italianate structures retain their bracketed roof and portal cornices and are located at 1339 Sheffield Street and at 1201, 1213, and 1215 Pennsylvania Avenue.
On North and Pennsylvania Avenues and Liverpool Street are several large Victorian mansions. The Langheim Mansion, resembling the small hotel particularly of the Second Empire, provides a strong contrast to the semi-detached row houses on Liverpool Street. 1410 Pennsylvania Avenue, built about 1870, is a Gothic mansion, while 1414 Pennsylvania Avenue, built about the same time in the Second Empire style, contains an Italianate villa tower.
The name "Manchester" appears to have been derived from the English immigrants who first settled the area. It appears to have been suggested by the fact that the city of Birmingham, named after the English industrial city, was located across the Monongahela River. Manchester was laid out in 1832, became a borough in 1843, and merged with Allegheny City in 1867 because of common industrial and commercial interests. In 1908, Allegheny City became part of the City of Pittsburgh.
During the second half of the nineteenth century, numerous industries and commercial concerns developed in and around the Manchester area. These included: the Hall and Speer Plough Works; the Phelps, Carr, and Company coach and sleigh factory; Howard's Paper Mill, Pittsburgh Locomotive and Car Works; LaBelle Steel; Star Iron Works; the Hutchinson Oil Works; and many others. By the late 1870's, the Manchester Docks were also the scene of much activity.
With the mills and factories employing thousands, the area comprising Manchester Historic District became a primarily residential area which served the industrial and commercial concerns. A concentration of nineteenth century individual, semi-detached, and row housing developed here in this relatively flat area which permitted the Classical urban, gridiron street pattern. Interspersed throughout the district are larger Victorian mansions which served as the homes of a more wealthy group.
Around the turn of the century, the area began to decline, a process which continued into the 1960's. A neighborhood improvement program developed by the Urban Redevelopment Authority of Pittsburgh in conjunction with the Pittsburgh History & Landmarks Foundation, the Manchester Neighborhood Council, and other public agencies, has attempted to revitalize the Manchester area. A preservation planning study of the 1300 block of Liverpool Street undertaken in 1964 by the Pittsburgh History and Landmarks Foundation, resulted in preservation and urban renewal studies of the entire Manchester area. From these studies came the Manchester Urban Renewal Plan which allocates funds for historic restoration.
One of the main objectives of the plan is to achieve historic preservation while keeping the cost to the property owner as low as possible. For this reason, all buildings designated for historic restoration will have the exterior portion of the building restored at no expense to the owner. All of the work and material will be paid for by the Urban Redevelopment Authority of Pittsburgh with the standards determined by the Pittsburgh History & Landmarks Foundation. An important element of the program is that the interiors of these structures will be restored by the owners in cooperation with the Authority using loans and grants of the regular program.
The Manchester Historic District is significant not only because it retains much of its Victorian architecture but also because it represents an important period in the growth and development of the City of Pittsburgh. Urban renewal efforts have taken these factors into account and serves as an example of historic preservation in the urban residential neighborhood.
Parke, Judge John F., Recollections of Seventy Years and Historical Gleanings of Allegheny, Pennsylvania, Boston: Rand, Avery & Co., 1886.
Scully, Honorable Cornelius D., The Story of Allegheny City, Allegheny Centennial Committee, 1941.