Houses On Well-Loved Wooden Street Move One Step Closer To Historic Designation

Jan 10, 2018

Rosyln Place is a 250-foot cul-de-sac street in Pittsburgh’s Shadyside neighborhood. Such an abbreviated street doesn’t demand much attention, but Roslyn Place carries the unusual distinction of being made of wood.

While City Council approved a historic designation for the street last May, the 18 houses surrounding the street enjoyed no such protection.

The Planning Commission voted unanimously on Wednesday to recommend to change that, recommending that City Council approve a historic designation for the homes, as well.

“Every property owner in Roslyn Place is on board with it,” said Sarah Quinn, the city’s preservation planner. “It’s great, I don’t even have the words. It’s just really refreshing.”

Pittsburgh’s ordinance requires that 25 percent of property owners support a historic nomination in order to accept it. “There are many places where you wouldn’t be able to get that,” she said.

Matthew Falcone is president of Preservation Pittsburgh, and was the nominator for Roslyn Place. He addressed the Planning Commission during its public comment period.

“I think all of you know [Rosyln Place] is an exceptional part of Pittsburgh," he said. 

Approved by a 1914 resolution from City Council, Roslyn Place was laid out by architect-engineer Thomas Rodd. Rodd served as a Naval Officer during the Civil War, and was later appointed chief engineer of all Pennsylvania Railroad lines west of Pittsburgh. And then he planned this wee community around a wooden street.

Rodd’s historical significance, the houses’ Federal and Georgian styles, as well as the sense of place created by the street, all lent weight to the nomination.

“There are no other places in Pittsburgh where both the street, the physical street itself, and the houses were done together as a planned community,” said Falcone. “And they’ve survived largely intact to today. Roslyn Place is well over a hundred years old.”

City Council will have final say on the nomination. If they do, any changes to the outside of the homes or the street would have to meet muster at the Historic Review Commission.