Pittsburgh, the Steel City, is not only known for its industrial heritage, but also for its rich history and culture. The city is home to some of the most fascinating and unique historic homes. These homes hold a wealth of stories, architectural marvels, and glimpses into the lives of prominent and influential figures of the past. All around Pittsburgh, you can see the evolution of this great American city in the architecture of it’s residences. From the quiet row homes in Deutschtown to the stately mansions in The Schenley Farms Historic District and the tree-lined avenues in Beechview, Pittsburgh reveals it’s history one street at a time. The list below are some of the more well-known and historic houses to visit in Pittsburgh, and are open to the public.
Historic Houses In Pittsburgh You Should Visit
The Frick Museum – Clayton
Henry Clay Frick, one of Pittsburgh’s wealthiest citizens, made his fortune in the steel industry alongside his business partner, Andrew Carnegie. His estate, known as Clayton, is now open for public tours, offering insight into the history of the Frick family and the opulent lifestyle they enjoyed in the early 1900s.
The Mansion and the Tour
The Clayton mansion is preserved in the same style as when the Fricks lived there, and the tour guides do an excellent job of illustrating what life was like for the family. They also provide background information on the estate’s history and Pittsburgh’s steel industry, where Henry Clay Frick made his fortune.
The Frick house is located in Point Breeze. It is recommended to purchase tickets in advance, as tours may sell out. However, it may be possible to join a tour upon arrival if you are fortunate. You can visit the Frick’s website here.
Hartwood Acres – The Hartwood Mansion
Nestled in the north of Pittsburgh, the mansion at Hartwood Acres is a stunning Tudor-style house built in the 1920s by John and Mary Flinn Lawrence. The house is open for public tours with advance registration, offering a glimpse into the lives of the affluent family in the mid-1900s.
The Architecture and Design
The Hartwood Mansion offers a fascinating blend of modern amenities and Old-World design, making it feel like a European castle from centuries past. Visiting the mansion during the holiday season offers an added treat, as the house is adorned with beautiful Christmas decorations.
Visiting Hartwood Mansion
The August Wilson House
Situated at 1727 Bedford Ave., within the Hill District of Pittsburgh, the August Wilson House is an important landmark in American Literary History. As the childhood residence of the renowned playwright August Wilson, the August Wilson House is committed to honoring his artistic and individual contributions, while simultaneously functioning as a cultural hub for the local Hill District community. You can visit the website for the August Wilson House here.
The Bayernhof Museum is not just any ordinary historic house. It was once the residence of Charles Brown III, an eccentric millionaire who built a unique Bavarian-inspired mansion filled with secret passages and other intriguing features. What makes this house even more special is that it houses one of the largest collections of self-playing musical instruments in the world.
Charles Brown was an avid collector of these one-of-a-kind music machines, and his final will and testament dictated that his estate be turned into a museum to share his collection with the world. Visitors can now tour the house and learn about Brown’s life, his passion for music machines, and even listen to a sampling of the instruments during their visit.
Visiting the Bayernhof Museum
The Bayernhof Museum is located in O’Hara Township, just a few miles northeast of Pittsburgh. It is essential to make an appointment for a tour, preferably 2-4 weeks in advance, especially if you plan to visit on a weekend. The tour is available for visitors aged 12 and older. You can see the website for the Bayernhof Museum here.
The Troy Hill Art Houses
Tucked away in a quiet road in Troy Hill, the three Troy Hill Art Houses may appear like any other homes on the block. All 3 homes are the the brainchild of Pittsburgh collector Evan Mirapaul.
It is challenging to describe the contents of the Troy Hill Art Houses without giving away the surprise. Each house is incredibly unique, the La Hütte Royal, the Kunzhaus and the Darkhouse Lighthouse all offer a unique experience inside, as well as being considered singular and collective works of art themselves. To fully appreciate these homes, it’s best to visit them. You won’t be disappointed!
Visiting the Troy Hill Art Houses
The Troy Hill Art Houses are all located in… you guessed it. Visits are by appointment only (one reservation required for each house), and it is advised to book as early as possible, as slots fill up quickly. The tour is open to visitors aged 16 and older only.
Trundle Manor is the residence of Mr. Arm and Velda von Minx, two artists with an eclectic and unusual collection. Ranging from taxidermy animals to unique movie memorabilia, their collection is vast, and a significant portion of it was created by the couple themselves.
The Collection and Events
A visit to Trundle Manor is an unpredictable experience, as you never know what to expect. The couple also hosts various events, including stand-up comedy nights, couples’ taxidermy lessons, and weekly horror movie screenings.
Visiting Trundle Manor
Trundle Manor is located in Swissvale. Visits are by appointment only and should be scheduled a few days in advance. The tour is suitable for visitors aged 13 and older; however, only those with a specific sense of humor will enjoy this one. Here is Trundle Manor’s website.
While this isn’t a house in Pittsburgh, it is just a short drive from the burgh. Frank Lloyd Wright’s iconic Fallingwater house near Ohiopyle is well worth the trip. This architectural masterpiece seamlessly integrates nature and design, making the house and the waterfall it is built upon one cohesive entity.
Fallingwater is considered one of Wright’s best works, and the house is designed in such a way that the waterfall can be experienced from almost every corner of the house. The house appears to change with the seasons, offering a unique experience each time you visit.
Fallingwater is located near Ohiopyle State Park, about an hour south of Pittsburgh. Tours run frequently, but it is recommended to purchase tickets in advance as they often sell out. See Falling Water’s website right here.
Kentuck Knob is another Frank Lloyd Wright-designed house located in the Laurel Highlands, just a few miles from Fallingwater. This house is a more conventional example of Wright’s Usonian style, situated atop a picturesque hill.
Visiting Kentuck Knob allows you to experience a more traditional Wright house while taking in the beauty of the surrounding countryside. Additionally, the crowds at Kentuck Knob are often smaller than those at Fallingwater, resulting in a more intimate experience. Here is the website for Kentuck Knob.
Visiting Kentuck Knob
Kentuck Knob is located at 723 Kentuck Road in Chalkhill, PA.
Buffalo Bill’s House
While this home was not originally what you would consider a “historic house in Pittsburgh”, fans of The Silence of the Lambs will remember Buffalo Bill’s house from some of the movie’s most iconic scenes. The house, located outside of Perryopolis, PA, is now open for tours and house rentals. It features incredible art and memorabilia from the movie and even has a recreation of the well for photo opportunities. You can visit Buffalo Bill’s house right here.
Visiting Buffalo Bill’s House
The Buffalo Bill House is located at 8 Circle Street in Perryopolis, PA. Tours generally take place one weekend a month (reservation required) from spring through fall and are available as private rentals for the rest of the year.
Pittsburgh is a city with a rich history and a treasure trove of historic houses that are open for public exploration. Whether you’re a history buff, an architecture enthusiast, or simply looking for a unique experience, these houses in Pittsburgh offer a glimpse into the past and a chance to appreciate the beauty and craftsmanship of a bygone era.