Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Allegheny City Hall – Federal and Ohio Streets Pittsburgh – 1863-1938 – Architect Colomb Gengembre

Present site of Buhl Planetarium 

Little has been written about the fifteen years Gengembre spent in Allegheny except for reports concerning the commission that turned out to be his last.  Gengembre provided the designs for the Allegheny City Hall pro bono, delivering the plans sometime between 1862 and 1863.  Donating his talent to create the city hall of his adopted home was a grand gesture on his part that was met with an offer from Allegheny Government cronies to share in the graft from inflated costs that they planned to build into the project.  Gengembre was said to be so appalled at the American lack of morals that he swore off speaking English for the rest of his life.  He died in 1863.

 Gengembre’s daughter, Sophie Anderson, was an artist who specialized in portraiture and her work is most often classified as Pre Raphaelite.  She married British artist Walter Anderson and enjoyed a successful career.   Her brother, Philip, changed his last name from the unpronounceable Gengembre to his mother’s maiden name of Hubert.  As Philip Hubert, he moved to New York City where he designed buildings that supported cooperatively owned apartments, a concept credited to him.   The Hubert Home Clubs were designed for middle class workers and owed much to his father’s brief stint working for Utopian thinker, Charles Fourier.   Hubert’s cooperative designs included the Navarro “Spanish Flats” Apartments as well as the Chelsea Hotel.


1 comment:

Al Tecacca said...

Thanks for the nostalgic tour. As much as I loved the star shows at Buhl, I was always terrified by the post-show van der Graaf generator demonstration that was between you and the exit.