George H. Schwan

Fifth Wood Building

Fifth Wood Building

George H. Schwan (1873–1928) had a prosperous career designing buildings most of us never notice. There are a few landmark buildings by him, but he had a particular specialty in groups of houses put up all at once, and his reputation went well beyond Pittsburgh. He was responsible for most of the buildings in the model Akron suburb of Goodyear Heights. and he designed whole streets of houses for the model factory town of Woodlawn, now in Aliquippa.

A brief biography appeared in the Charette, the magazine of the Pittsburgh Architectural Club, when Schwan died unexpectedly at the age of 55.

In Memoriam

George Henry Schwan,

Member of the American Institute of Architects, Pittsburgh Chapter.

Born at Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, October 14, 1873. Died at Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, December 30, 1928.

Among a small group, such as the workers in the profession of Architecture in Pittsburgh, the passing of any individual belonging to it has a considerable influence on the group. Particularly is this so in the case of one who has always been active in public and community work and in the affairs of the organized part of the profession. George Schwan was one of those who carried besides his commercial work, a full share of his duties toward his profession and toward his fellow workers.

Mr. Schwan was born and raised in Pittsburgh. He was trained in the office of George S. Orth, old time architect of Pittsburgh, and from there he went to the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia and took a special course in architecture in common with a number of other Pittsburgh architects at that time. He then visited Europe on a trip to study the buildings of the old world and on his return, shortly thereafter, opened an office about the year 1901 for the practice of architecture. The office he maintained tinder his own name until his death.

Mr. Schwan was particularly active in public matters and some of his best work was done through his association with and employment by public bodies. He was one of the first to take up the great question of housing for which he served the Pittsburgh Chamber of Commerce as architect. He also went into town planning and in the time of the great war contributed some very important work. He also is responsible for important work on housing for Jones & Laughlin Steel Company at Woodlawn and for the Goodyear Rubber Company at Akron. He also served as a member of the commission which revised the old Pittsburgh building code and which is responsible for our present building laws. In 1922 Mr. Schwan organized and secured the location of the Potomac Division of the Architects’ Small House Service Bureau in Pittsburgh. He carried on the work as President except for one year. He was the President at the time of his death. A partial list of his buildings is as follows: The Twentieth Century Club, Schenley Farms [note that this is usually attributed to Benno Janssen], Oakmont School, Turtle Creek High School, Y. M. C. A. Building at Massillon, Ohio, School Building at East Washington, Pa., School Building at West View, Pa., Bloomfield Trust Company Building, Office Building of the Hope Natural Gas Co., Clarksburgh, W. Va.

In addition to his membership in the Pittsburgh Chapter, he was a charter member in the Pittsburgh Architectural Club. He was also a member of the Duquesne Club. He was a Mason and was affiliated with Bellefield Lodge No. 68, F. & A. M., Shiloh Chapter No. 257, Royal Arch Masons, and Tancred Commandery No. 48 Knights Templar. He is survived by his widow, Mrs. Elizabeth Loughridge Schwan; two daughters, Margaret Hopper Schwan and Elizabeth French Schwan; his mother, Mrs. Mary Kopp Schwan; a sister, Mrs. Clyde F. Fellabom, all of Pittsburgh. Also by a brother, Albert E. Schwan of Oklahoma City.

Here is a short list of some of Schwan’s works in our area. For more, see Father Pitt’s Great Big List, which is kept up to date with his latest research.

Apartment building, 3337 Milwaukee Street, Hill District, 1911 (provisional attribution)
Concord Presbyterian Church, 1907 Brownsville Road, Carrick, 1914
Fifth Wood Building, Fifth Avenue and Wood Street
Whiteside Memorial Building, 250 East Ohio Street, Allegheny Center
Garage and Warehouse, 1921–1923 Forbes Avenue, Bluff, 1911 or after
House at 300 Merrimac Street, Mount Washington, 1911
Houses at 227–231 Annabell Street, Mount Washington, 1911
All the houses in 300 blocks of 2nd, Beech, and 3rd Streets, Oakmont, 1910
Turtle Creek High School, 126 Monroeville Avenue, Turtle Creek, 1917–1919
Vandergrift Savings & Trust Co., 129 Washington Avenue, Vandergrift, 1905
Alterations to Weldin’s Building, 415 Wood Street, 1914

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