History of 3219

HISTORY OF 3219 JOE HAMMER SQUARE

Prepared by Carol J. Peterson
https://www.facebook.com/pages/Pittsburgh-House-Histories/163356233687884
412-687-0342
February 2014

Herman L. Dean constructed 3219 Joe Hammer Square and adjacent houses between late 1899 and early 1901. The houses were constructed for the then-considerable cost of $3000 each, on land that Dean purchased for $75,000 in 1899. Dean built the houses with some Colonial Revival style influence, which is shown in their three-sided second-floor façade bays, keystone lintels above the first floor windows, and original front porch supports.

The houses took the place of an estate called Elsinore, which had belonged to wholesale shoe dealer William E. Schmertz and his wife, Amelia, for many years. William E. Schmertz was also president of the Third National Bank of Pittsburgh. Herman L. Dean named one of the streets Elsinore Square. The name lasted until 1944, when the street was renamed Joe Hammer Square for a resident who had died as a soldier in France in World War II.

The earliest occupants of 3219 Joe Hammer Square were Horace and Cora Bikle, who rented the house in 1901. Horace Bikle was an employee of W.W. Wattles & Sons, a Downtown jewelry store. Harry L. Fleck, a steelworker, lived in the house between 1902 and 1905. The house’s first owner-occupants were Michael and Rose Saville, who lived there between 1907 and 1914. Michael Saville was a tailor. Samuel Pasekoff, a produce wholesaler, and his family lived there later in the 1910s.

Jacob and Lillie Sheffler owned and lived at 3219 Joe Hammer Square between 1920, when they bought the house for $6500, and the late 1950s. Jacob Sheffler was a wholesale tobacco salesman. The Shefflers converted the house to two apartments, and Jacob’s brother William and his family lived in the other unit for many years. William Sheffler was a streetcar conductor, and his son Edgar was a ticket taker at Forbes Field.

The house at 3219 Joe Hammer Square has now had a total of nine owners. Detailed information on the history of the house is contained in the following report.

 

OWNERSHIP

Pre-construction

July 1, 1899 (Allegheny County Deed Book 1056: 20): Amelia A. Schmertz of Pittsburgh, widow of William E. Schmertz, conveyed a tract of land that included the site of 3219 Joe Hammer Square and adjacent houses to William G. Price Jr. of Philadelphia for $75,000. The irregularly shaped property was described as beginning on the west side of Craft Avenue, 230.5’ northwest of Niagara Street, and running northwest on Craft Avenue 54’6.75”; still along Craft Avenue northwest 348.96’ to the line of D.P. Reighard; along that line southwest 837.17; southeast 101.11, northeast 242’, and northwest 40’; then northeast 279.71; southeast 104’; and northeast 260’5.625” to Craft Avenue at the place of beginning. The property contained a two-story brick dwelling house with a finished attic, a one-story frame dwelling with a basement, and a brick and frame stable.

November 10, 1899 (Deed Book 1046: 387): Sallie P. Eyre Price and William G. Price Jr. of Philadelphia conveyed the parcel described in the July 1, 1899 deed to Herman L. Dean of Philadelphia for $10,000 and the assumption of a $65,000 mortgage given by Amelia A. Schmertz to William G. Price Jr.

Post-Construction

July 2, 1901 (Deed Book 1129: 547): Herman L. and Annie F. Dean of Philadelphia conveyed 25 houses known as 3201-3227 and 3202-3222 Joe Hammer Square and other property along Craft Avenue and Kennett Square to the United Real Estate and Construction Company of Pittsburgh for $100,000.

December 31, 1901 (Deed Book 1170: 237): The United Real Estate and Construction Company, of Pittsburgh, conveyed 25 houses known as 3201-3227 and 3202-3222 Joe Hammer Square to Sallie P. Eyre Price of Chester, Pennsylvania, for $108,000.

September 29, 1904 (Deed Book 1342: 551): Sallie P. Eyre Price and William G. Price Jr. of Chester, Pennsylvania, conveyed 3217-3219 and 3221-3223 Joe Hammer Square to Elizabeth Z. Pritchard of Pittsburgh, wife of John J. Pritchard, for $26,000.

March 29, 1907 (Deed Book 1527: 293): Elizabeth J. and John J. Pritchard of Pittsburgh conveyed 3219 Joe Hammer Square to Michael Saville of Pittsburgh for $5500. This deed and subsequent deeds conveyed the lot on which the house now stands, measuring 20’ wide by 90’ deep.

June 30, 1914 (Deed Book 1814: 165): Michael and Rose Saville of Pittsburgh conveyed 3219 Joe Hammer Square to Samuel Pasekoff of Pittsburgh for $4500.

June 26, 1920 (Deed Book 2022: 310): Samuel and Fannie Pasekoff of Pittsburgh conveyed 3219 Joe Hammer Square to Jacob and Lillie Sheffler of Pittsburgh for $6500.

Lillie Sheffler died on May 17, 1957, vesting full title to 3219 Joe Hammer Square in Jacob Sheffler.

May 29, 1958 (Deed Book 3703: 128): Jacob Sheffler of Pittsburgh conveyed 3219 Joe Hammer Square to Mary F. Parnes of Pittsburgh for $7000.

Mary F. Parnes died on April 17, 1993.

June 21, 2006 (Deed Book 12931: 241): The estate of Mary F. Parnes, also known as Mary Friedman, conveyed 3219 Joe Hammer Square to Jon Ivan Parnes for $1.

September 14, 2006 (Deed Book 13010: 130): Jon Ivan Parnes of Allegheny County conveyed 3219 Joe Hammer Square to Tiffany Rose Parnes of Allegheny County, his daughter, for $1 and other considerations.

October 30, 2009 (Deed Book 14090: 73): Tiffany Rose Parnes and Jon Ivan Parnes conveyed 3219 Joe Hammer Square to Philip Garrow for $39,600. This deed stated that Jon Ivan Parnes joined in the conveyance as the real party in interest.

 

AGE OF 3219 JOE HAMMER SQUARE

Construction

Local historical records indicate that Herman L. Dean built 3219 Joe Hammer Square and adjoining houses between late 1899 and early 1901.

Plat maps of the area published in and before 1898 show that 3219 Joe Hammer Square and adjoining houses had not yet been built. As late as July 1899, what is now the 3200 block of Joe Hammer Square contained a brick mansion that had been the home of William and Amelia Schmertz, a small frame house, and as stable.

Herman L. Dean purchased property that included the house site on November 10, 1899. Dean had already arranged for the construction of houses on the property before he closed on the purchase. City of Pittsburgh building permit dockets show that on October 31, 1899, Dean received a permit for the construction of 24 brick houses on Elsinore Square between Ophelia Street and Craft Avenue. The houses were to be two stories in height and measure
16’ wide by 55’ deep. Dean was listed as both property owner and builder. The construction cost was $72,000, or $3000 per house.

The 1901 Pittsburgh directory listed Horace W. Bikle as living at 3219 Elsinore Square, and provides the earliest known documentation that the house had been built. The next plat map of the area, published in 1904, depicts the house.

 

Architectural style

The house at 3219 Joe Hammer Square and its neighbors were designed with the influence of the Colonial Revival style. The Colonial Revival influence is shown in the houses’ three-sided second-floor facade bays, the keystone lintels above the first floor windows, and in the original front porch supports that 3219 Joe Hammer Square and some of the other houses retain.

The Colonial Revival style became popular in the Pittsburgh area in the late 1890s, although a few houses were built in the style in the Sewickley area as early as around 1890 and on the East Coast circa 1880. The style originally came into use after the Centennial of the United States raised awareness of the architecture of the Colonial and Federal periods. The popularity of the style was also a reaction to what was perceived as the excessive ornamentation of the Queen Anne style and other late Victorian styles. The Colonial Revival style came to be perceived as more desirable because it drew from historical precedent, while the Queen Anne style was more a product of late 19th century stylistic innovations. Locally, the Colonial Revival style faded from popularity in the 1910s, but returned with the housing boom of the 1920s. In the Pittsburgh area and other regions, exteriors of some Colonial Revival houses built in the 1920s more closely resembled actual Colonial era dwellings than those which were built in the 1890s and first years of the new century. The style remained popular in the 1930s, with Cape Cod houses representing a modest and more affordable subtype, and in the 1940s.

No known records identify an architect who is credited with design of Herman L. Dean’s houses on and near Joe Hammer Square.

 

Herman L. and Annie F. Dean

Herman L. Dean was a speculative builder and merchant who lived in New York and Philadelphia for much of his adult life. He was born in New York State in about 1840. He lived in Brooklyn in the early 1870s, working as an insurance agent, and in the 1880s and early 1890s was a partner in a sewing machine store in Center City Philadelphia. Locally available records do not indicate whether Dean was a speculative builder in Philadelphia as he was in Pittsburgh.

Sallie P. Eyre Price and William G. Price Jr., who owned the former Schmertz estate for four months in 1899 and owned 3219 Joe Hammer Square and nearby houses between 1901 and 1904, lived in Philadelphia and in Chester, a city that is southwest of Philadelphia. William G. Price Jr. was a developer in Chester in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The Prices made a $65,000 mortgage loan to Herman L. Dean when they sold him the former Schmertz property, and the loan may have enabled Dean to construct the dozens of houses that he built
on the land.

 

Street renaming

Elsinore Square was renamed Joe Hammer Square in 1944. The street’s new name was in honor of Army Lieutenant Joe Hammer, who died in service in France in 1944. He had lived at 3222 Elsinore Street for all but the first six months of his life. A brother, Milton Hammer, also served in the Army in World War II.

 

EARLY OWNERS AND OCCUPANTS

Pittsburgh directories, U.S. census records, and other sources provide information on early owners and occupants of 3219 Joe Hammer Square.

Horace W. and Cora M. Bikle

Horace and Cora Bikle rented 3219 Joe Hammer Square in 1901, and were apparently the first occupants of the house. Horace Bikle worked as a jeweler and clerk at W.W. Wattles & Sons, a jewelry store at 214 Fifth Avenue, Downtown. The Bikles were married in 1899 or early 1900, and rented a house at 1215 Buena Vista Street in the Mexican War Streets before they moved to Joe Hammer Square. They were 30 and 26 years old, respectively, when they lived in the house. When they left Joe Hammer Square, they moved to Woodworth Street in Bloomfield.

Horace Bikle was listed in the 1895 Pittsburgh Blue Book, a directory of socially prominent families.

Harry L. Fleck

Harry L. Fleck was listed at 3219 Joe Hammer Square in Pittsburgh directories published between 1902 and 1905. Fleck was listed as a steelworker and foreman. He moved to 366 Lawn Street in 1905-06.

Elizabeth J. and John J. Pritchard

The Pritchards owned 3219 Joe Hammer Square between 1904 and 1907, renting the house to tenants while living a few blocks away at 145 Robinson Street. John J. Pritchard was a clerk. They rented the house to Frank S. Jarrett, a clerk, and Thomas Jarrett, a salesman, in 1906. Morris Simon, a tailor, rented the house in 1907.

Michael and Rose Saville

Michael and Rose Saville were the first owner-occupants of 3219 Joe Hammer Square, beginning in 1907. Michael Saville was a tailor during the time that he lived in the house; his workplace is not known.

The 1910 census reported that Michael Saville, 32, had been born in England and came to the United States in 1888. His wife (identified as Rose on a deed, and as Ray in census records) was 27. She had been born in Pennsylvania to Russian immigrant parents. The Savilles had been married for ten years and had had three children, two of whom were living: Beatrice, six, and Madeline, four.

A roomer, Alan Weisberg, lived with the Saville family. Weisberg, 40, was unmarried and a son of Russian immigrants, and was born in Pennsylvania. He worked as a men’s goods salesman. The family also employed a servant, Minnie Komana, who lived in their home. Komana was 14 years old and had been born in Pennsylvania to Hungarian immigrant parents.

The Savilles sold 3219 Joe Hammer Square in 1914 and moved to Natchez Street on Mount Washington, where Michael Saville became a grocer.

Samuel and Fannie Pasekoff

Samuel and Fannie Pasekoff owned 3219 Joe Hammer Square between 1914 and 1920. Samuel Pasekoff was a wholesale produce merchant. Records of the 1920 census show that Pasekoff, then 33, had been born in Russia, came to the United States in 1900, and became an American citizen in 1903. Although census takers were not to record religion, Pasekoff’s native language was given as Jewish rather than Yiddish or Hebrew.

Fannie Pasekoff, 27, had been born in Ohio, like her parents. She and Samuel had three children: Harold J., seven, Eleanor D., four, and Herbert I., 19 months. A maid, Veronona Leskoyansky, 16, lived with the family. She had been born in Pennsylvania to Slovak immigrant parents.

Jacob and Lillie Sheffler

Jacob and Lillie Sheffler bought 3219 Joe Hammer Square in 1920, and lived there until the 1950s. The Shefflers had previously lived at 2037 Rose Street in the Hill District and at 304 Ophelia Street. Jacob was born in Romania in 1885, and was brought to the United States in the same year. He spoke Romanian as his first language. In 1900, the Sheffler family lived on Crawford Street in the lower Hill District and Jacob’s father, Isaac, was a cigar maker. Lillie was born in Pennsylvania in 1885, to parents who were from Poland. Jacob Sheffler worked
for many years for the Siller-Narton-Barnes Company, a wholesale tobacco business at 951 Liberty Avenue, Downtown. He was a traveling salesman for the company, and was also manager of the pipe department.

William Sheffler, a brother of Jacob, and his wife Bertha also moved into 3219 Joe Hammer Square in 1920. Jacob and Lillian, who had no children, used the house as two apartments, living in one unit and renting the other to William and Bertha.

At the time of the 1930 census, Jacob Sheffler, 44, was a salesman with a wholesale tobacco firm. Lillie, 44, did not work outside the home. The couple shared their apartment with Benjamin Leiber, 35, an unmarried brother of Lillie Sheffler. Leiber was a laborer in a warehouse.

William Sheffler, 47 years old in 1930, worked as a streetcar conductor. Bertha, 45, had no occupation. They had one child, Edgar, who was 13. They rented their apartment for $25 per month.

In 1940, according to census records, Jacob Sheffler was still a wholesale cigar salesman. He had worked 48 hours during the previous week, but in 1939 had only worked 26 weeks and was paid $600. Benjamin Leiber no longer lived at 3219 Joe Hammer Square. William Sheffler was unemployed in 1940, and neither he or Bertha Sheffler had earned any income in 1939. Edgar Sheffler, 23, worked as a ticker taker at Forbes Field in Oakland. He had worked 26 hours in the week prior to the census, and in 1939 he had worked 26 weeks and earned $250.

The 1930 census had estimated the value of 3219 Joe Hammer Square at $8500. In 1940, the house was estimated to be worth $4500, and William and Bertha Sheffler’s rent had dropped from $25 to $20 per month. The Great Depression of the 1930s diminished property values in the Pittsburgh area, and in all or most regions of the United States.

The 1940 census is the last census that provides information on occupants of 3219 Joe Hammer Square. Manuscript census records are withheld from public view for 72 years, to protect the privacy of persons who were enumerated.

Jacob Sheffler retired by the early 1950s. Lillie Sheffler died in 1957, and Jacob sold 3219 Joe Hammer Square in 1958.

 

SUPPLEMENTARY MATERIALS

The following materials accompany this report:

-A copy of part of an 1852 map depicting the Oakland area

-Copies of parts of plat maps of the area around 3219 Joe Hammer Square, published in 1890, 1898, 1904, 1914, and 1923

-A copy of part of a 1905 fire insurance map of the area around 3219 Joe Hammer Square

-“Elsinore Sq. Now Is Hammer Sq.,” from the Pittsburgh Press, October 18, 1944