North Hills Historic District, New Castle City, Lawrence County PA 16101

North Hill Historic District

New Castle City, Lawrence County, PA

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The North Hill Historic District was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1999. Portions of the content on this web page were adapted from a copy of the original nomination document. [‡]


The North Hill Historic District is a residential neighborhood in New Castle, Pennsylvania located immediately north of the central business district. This district consists of ninety-one blocks and the land area is 449.7 acres. The boundaries include Hillcrest and Fairmont Avenues on the north; Delaware and Neshannock Avenues on the east; Crescent and Falls Streets on the south; and Beaver, Jefferson and Mercer Streets on the west. Elevated above the city, Lincoln Avenue and several other streets have commanding views. There are 1,888 buildings, 1structure and no objects in the North Hill Historic District. The structure is a contributing concrete girder bridge on Boyles Avenue reportedly constructed by the WPA. This area is composed of a variety of late 19th and early 20th century architectural styles including Late 19th and Early 20th Century American Movements, Late Victorian, and Late 19th and 20th Century Revivals. The most common styles are Bungalow/Craftsman, American Foursquare, Queen Anne and Victorian. The majority of buildings are two and one half story in height and are constructed of wood or masonry. The North Hill Historic District is composed of primarily single and multiple dwellings with a mixture of one percent commercial and health care related properties. There are four religious buildings and two schools in the district. Ninety-one percent (91%) of the resources are detached single family homes with front, side and rear setbacks. The streets and sidewalks originally arranged in a grid pattern have been retained, with no changes, since at least 1904. The majority of residences constructed between 1890 and 1930 parallel the rapid growth of the railroads, tin and steel industries. There are 1,729 contributing resources and 160 noncontributing resources in the district. The one hundred and sixty noncontributing resources are widely scattered throughout the neighborhood. The district is well preserved and possesses strong architectural integrity.

Several architectural styles of the Late 19th and Early 20th Century American Movements, Late Victorian, and Late 19th and 20th Century Revival are represented in the district. The predominant styles include: Craftsman, American Foursquare, Queen Anne, Colonial Revival, Neoclassical and Tudor Revival. Some of the buildings in the district exhibit an eclectic mix of styles. The building inventory lists the predominant style first and the influencing style second. The resource count of 1888 buildings includes dwellings, businesses, churches, and professional buildings. The majority of properties do not have outbuildings and have therefore been omitted from the resource count. The properties that have outbuildings are generally garages that were built reflecting the style and materials used for the primary building.

Moving northward, from the south boundary of the district, the topography commences at 850 feet above sea level and ascends northward to its highest point of 1120 feet. As one author describes the district "The bluffs rise very abruptly to one hundred feet or more; in places precipitous, and showing bold and rugged rock and escarpments ... The view from Lincoln Avenue was depicted as quite wild and picturesque, with minor streams present, coupled with rare and beautiful retreats. The bluffs are very bold and commanding and afford many fine building sites." [1] The uphill grade of North Hill Historic District continues through its entire length (to Fairmont Avenue), however the climb is more gradual after Wallace Avenue. There is a stone retaining wall approximately five feet high on E. Winter Avenue, which turns a corner to proceed north up N. Mercer Street where it tapers off as it meets E. Leasure Avenue. This is a landscape feature and not included in the resource count. This retaining wall was built in ca. 1916 to level the site for Alex Crawford Hoyt and his sister May Emma Hoyt's two mansions. The main corridors typically run north to south. Highland Avenue is the exception to the rule, because this main corridor changes to a southwestern decent above E. Leasure Avenue until it turns into Mill Street, at the Grant Street intersection. Laurel Boulevard is another anomaly in the district since it has the only median strip. The median strip is twelve and a half feet wide and two hundred and twelve feet long. This median strip has two park benches along with a spattering of plentiful shade providing trees. Buildings are typically setback twenty-five feet from the street and are well preserved.

The Lower North Hill located south of Wallace Avenue appears to have been considered prime location for magnificent residential development among the prospering industrialists, merchants and bankers of the time. The majority of homes in this particular section of the district were built from 1890 to 1930. These homes were located on a steep hill, overlooking the central business area of downtown. It is easy to imagine the breadth, mass, and beauty of these homes as born out of the economic boom, from the industrial era and are lasting expressions of the women and men for whom they were constructed. Queen Anne, Colonial Revival, Neoclassical and Folk Victorian styles were the most common. These three and four bay homes are larger and more detailed than those built in later periods. Some of the residences could be considered mansions due to the buildings' square footages, intricate design and larger size lots. The mansions are brick or stone, while the majority of the dwellings in the area are weatherboard and shingle.

While the lower North Hill was principally developed for the leaders in industry and business, the Upper North Hill, located north of Wallace Avenue, developed into the domain of the middle management residence. For instance in 1897, the J. P. Watson Real Estate Co. created a speculative subdivision called Neshannock Heights on Winter, Leasure, Garfield, Highland, Albert and Delaware Avenues. This development offers a classic representation of middle management residential housing for the time period of 1890 to 1930. Some styles found throughout Neshannock Heights were Craftsman, American Foursquare, and Queen Anne.

The most common forms of architecture in the upper North Hill are Craftsman, American Foursquare, Tudor Revival and Gable Front Folk Victorian styles. Typically, these homes are two bays wide by two bays deep, constructed with wood or brick, and are generally two to three stories in height.

There is a wide diversity of architectural styles in the district. The Upper and Lower North Hill vary in architectural design, however a limited amount of intermixing of styles between the areas unifies the district. The quality of workmanship is extensive throughout the district with much attention given to detail, finish work and ornamentation.

The North Hill Historic District has forty-eight resources whose range of construction falls within 1870 to 1890, a period of rapid growth after the introduction of railroad transportation and large scale industry. All of these buildings are either two or two and one half stories high and ninety percent (90%) have weatherboard exteriors. Architectural styles of this period include Queen Anne, Folk Victorian, Second Empire, and Italianate. These dwellings are primarily located on central corridor streets south of Moody Avenue.

A good example of construction from the period from 1870 to 1890 is a two and one-half story, square plan Italianate style residence located at 311 E. Falls Street. Built in 1882, this dwelling has a hip roof with cross gables, a hip roof dormer, interior end chimneys, and brackets under the eaves. The main facade is four bays wide and the exterior walls are brick. The fenestration is irregular with single and paired round top one-over-one double hung windows with brick surrounds and lug sills. There is a bay window on the east side. A verandah has beveled square posts, a sawtooth frieze, and a scroll cut open balustrade. Within the round arch entry are double, wood panel doors. This building is located on a raised lot with a deep setback off a secondary street at the edge of the central business district.

The North Hill Historic District includes 1,680 resources constructed from 1890 to 1949, which account for eighty-nine percent (89%) of the buildings in the total district. Approximately sixty-eight percent (68%) of the resources built in this era are two to three stories high and sixty-three percent (63%) of these exteriors consist of weatherboard or wood shingle. Twenty-three percent (23%) of the total resources constructed in this period have brick exteriors. Prevalent architectural styles between 1890 to 1949 include: Folk Victorian, Craftsman, American Foursquare, Colonial Revival, Dutch Colonial Revival, Neo-Classical and Queen Anne. These buildings are located throughout the district.

The description below offers common representation of buildings from the period of 1890 to 1949. A brick Craftsman style house located at 201 E. Leasure Avenue was built between 1910 and 1930 and represents 25% of the resources during the mentioned period. This building is two and a half stories and two bays wide. In addition, the residence possesses a moderate-pitch, gable roof with wide eaves, and heavy brick square piers, which support a hip roof over the full porch. There is a rounded window on the third floor. Decorative brick arches are found between the first and second story windows on the west side. An arched, hood adorns a doorway located on the west side of the residence.

Another representation of middle management housing, which represents 20% of the architectural style of the district, is an American Foursquare style, two and one half story dwelling found at 314 Fairmont Avenue. Built in the 19201s, this wood framed building has a hipped roof with a large overhang and four equal sized dormers. The foundation is composed of molded rustic faced concrete masonry units. The fenestration is regular with double hung windows. There are stained glass windows on the sides and a tri-partite double hung window with a transom. The front porch has a hip roof and tapered yellow brick piers with buttered mortar joints.

A representation of Craftsman style of the period 1890 to 1949, is a one and one-half story building located at 909 Mercer Street. It maintains a cross-gable asphalt roof with beveled end 4x4 wood brackets supporting the wide overhang. The exterior is clad with wood shingle siding and the foundation is composed of molded rustic faced concrete blocks. The windows are double hung and a fireplace chimney covered with stucco is prominently placed on the front elevation. The front porch has brick piers to the height of five feet with wooden posts above. The area between the wooden posts has screening set into wooden frames. The area below the porch is enclosed with latticework.

The Dutch Colonial Revival is the fifth most prominent fashion of the district and contributes 5% of its architectural style to the aforementioned time period. A representation of such was built between 1910 and 1930 and is located at 1812 Delaware Avenue. It is a two story building constructed with a wood frame and brick veneer on the first floor exterior and with asphalt shingles on the second floor exterior walls. The cross-gambrel style roof has asphalt shingles and a deep overhang that continues around all four sides just above the first floor. There are double hung wooden windows with limestone headers. The front porch is inset under the main roof.

New Castle's industrial boom included the construction of several major churches on the North Hill. For instance, in 1910 the two story Romanesque style Trinity church was built at 212 N. Mill Street. This facility is constructed of cut limestone and has a square tower with a round tower joined to it. In 1929, the Clen-Moore Presbyterian Church, a two-story Gothic Revival style cut limestone building, was erected at 220 Clen-Moore Boulevard. This edifice equipped with large vaulted doors and pointed arched windows contains an east wing with doubled gables and dormers, and a west wing created from matching limestone. The Highland Presbyterian Church built of cut limestone in 1922 is positioned at 708 Highland Avenue. This Romanesque Revival style building is constructed with two stories, large vaulted doors, a portico on the south side, and additional grand vaulted doors facing west. Both entrances to the church contain pointed arched stain glass windows. Previously, two additions were annexed to the church, including one on the north and a handicap accessible ramp on the south side. Both additions were assembled from cut limestone and blend seamlessly into the original building. The former Temple Israel was built in 1927 at 908 Highland Avenue as the first permanent home of the Reformed Jewish congregation in New Castle. This impressive two-story brick building graced with menorahs on the south side of the building is unique and unclassified in style. The tall arched window openings once held beautiful stained glass windows with quotations from the Torah. These windows were moved to another building new home following a merger with another congregation.

The district is noted for its well-designed school buildings. W. G. Eckles Company Architects were the designers for New Castle High School, a Neoclassical style building constructed in the upper class neighborhood at 310 E. Lincoln Avenue in 1910-1911. The same architectural firm designed George Washington Intermediate School in 1928 at 101 Euclid Avenue, and this building is eclectic in style. Both of these two facilities are still used as schools. The former Arthur McGill School, which was built in 1921 at 1701 Albert Street in an eclectic style, was sold and converted to a combination of private school, day care and adult care services

R.G. Schmid Co. of Chicago, a regional architect, designed the Scottish Rite Cathedral at 110- 120 E. Lincoln Avenue. S.W. Siesel, the contractor who erected this monumental building in the time span between 1924 and 1926, had offices in both Pittsburgh and Milwaukee. The Cathedral is located at the top of Highland Avenue and was originally built for the Free Masons Lodge #433 as a multi-purpose lodge hall and cultural center. The main facade is two stories with nine bays and the rear facade is eight stories with four bays. The exterior of the building is brick cladding over concrete construction. The facade has a pedimented parapet with full classical entablature of stone with the main cornice below the parapet. In addition, there are monumental round arch openings between the stone Ionic columns. The interior includes a ballroom, banquet room, theater, Mason's lodge room and various other small rooms. The theater has 2800 seats, including the balcony, and a stage that is 60 feet wide and 45 feet deep. This theater is reported to have the largest stage between New York and Chicago and superior acoustics. In addition, there is one of the two remaining Mueller organs in the United States, which was donated in 1926 by tin mill industrialist, George Greer. The Cathedral has been well maintained throughout the years and closely resembles its original construction.

The structure, the E. Boyles Avenue Bridge, is a concrete bridge with exposed steel girders and includes a concrete staircase descending from the northwest side. Used as a crossing over Rural Avenue, this bridge spans thirty-two feet, and is thirty-seven feet wide. The district has essentially retained its historic characteristics with the help of local zoning ordinances. A limited number of businesses have been permitted in the district and these buildings were reused for a variety of retail and commercial endeavors. The commercial facilities constructed since 1949 represent less than one percent of the district resources. The majority of businesses, located on Highland, Mercer and Jefferson streets, existed throughout the period of significance. Since the 1960's the usage of one hundred thirty of the larger single dwellings has changed to multiple dwellings, and twelve apartment buildings were constructed. A business college formerly located on Rhodes Place purchased more than twenty large homes between 1968 and 1978 that were converted to dormitories with little regard to workmanship or architectural significance. In 1994 these homes were purchased by a developer and are currently being restored and converted to large apartments. Currently, the total number of multiple dwellings located in the district is less than eleven percent (11%). [2] The area has one hundred sixty, or eight and one half percent (8.5%), noncontributing buildings distributed throughout the area. Eighty-three percent (83%) of the noncontributing buildings were built after the area's period of significance. The remaining seventeen percent (17%) of noncontributing buildings are classified as such due to exterior alterations. Artificial siding was applied to about thirty-six percent (36%) of all the residences. The majority of residences remodeled used materials consistent with the original character. Windows were replaced and porches altered, but the basic design of the dwellings prevailed. Original materials and craftsmanship have endured, infusing the district with feelings and associations of New Castle's history. A visitor to this area would be compelled to comment on the historic character and style these dwellings possess. The North Hill Historic District retains integrity with approximately ninety-one percent of all buildings remaining intact.

Statement of Significance

The North Hill Historic District is significant under National Register Criterion A for industry as the neighborhood where middle and upper managers of the local iron, steel and tin industries resided. The wealth of the industries is directly reflected in the homes of the district. The district is significant under National Register Criterion C for the prominent and varied architecture reflecting prevalent designs of the day. The period of significance began ca. 1870 with urban residential growth on the North Hill and ends in 1949, thus meeting the fifty year guideline identified by the National Register for historical significance.

John Carlyle Stewart and his relatives were the first European settlers on land that would become the City of New Castle. They had previously lived near New Castle, Delaware, and after surveying the town site around April of 1798, they named their new community New Castle, Pennsylvania. Their town-plat encompassed about fifty acres and was located at the confluence of the Shenango River and the Neshannock Creek. The North Hill area was not included in the first town-plat, which stops at North Street one street below the southern boundary of the North Hill Historic District. New Castle was the first town to be platted in what is now Lawrence County. The early settlers were predominately of Scottish-Irish descent along with German, English and Welsh inhabitants. The first settlers earned a living as farmers, shoemakers, tanners, hatters, carpenters, stonemasons, coach-makers, blacksmiths, wheelwrights, cabinet-makers, tavern keepers, and merchants. The community grew slowly but steadily. New Castle achieved the status of becoming a borough on March 25, 1825 with less than three hundred inhabitants.

Canals were instrumental in manufacturing growth, thus spurring an increase in population and housing. The completion of the Beaver Extension of the Pennsylvania Canal in 1833 connected Beaver to New Castle. In 1838, the Ohio Division "Cross-Cut" Canal opened, connecting New Castle with a railhead in Youngstown, Ohio and in 1844 the Erie Extension Canal opened. These waterways allowed Lawrence County's large quantities of coal, limestone and iron ore to be shipped to other areas of the country. Prior to street car and railroad transportation, the canals were also a primary means of long distance travel. A dock located on the Neshannock Creek enabled travelers access to the borough of New Castle.

Early employers included grist, saw and linseed oil mills, distilleries, tanneries, carding factories, hat, drum, shovel makers, steel wire and nail works. In 1838, James D. White opened the first iron manufacturer, Aetna Iron Works, on the Neshannock Creek, which included a stone blast furnace. The canals provided another vehicle for exporting manufactured goods and led to a greater demand for labor. New Castle's population grew from 611 in 1840 to 1,563 in 1850. Growth in the area resulted in the creation of Lawrence County in March 20, 1849.[3] The Borough of New Castle, formerly part of Mercer County, became the county seat.

In an 1858 speech given in honor of the enlargement of the borough, Hon. John W. Forney stated the manufacture of iron was the principal business in New Castle.[4] Having all the necessary furnaces, rolling mills and nail factories, the local manufacturers were able to take ore, coal and limestone from the area and create every grade of article, from railroad iron down to three-penny nails.

The canal influence ended with the coming of the railroad and between 1870 to 1890, New Castle became an important rail hub. The railroad in turn aided in further industrial expansion. The industrial boom occurred after The McKinley Tariff Act of 1890 placed a tax on all imported tin plate. At this time there were 48 homes in the district. This motivated George Greer and local groups of investors to open the New Castle Steel and Tin Plate Company in 1893. "The establishment of this giant industry in New Castle was due in chief measure to the enterprise and personal exertions of Mr. George Greer, the present district manager. The fact that New Castle from 1890 to 1900 increased in population from 11,200 to almost 29,000, and subsequent to that of a city of 40,000 or more, largely due to its tin industries ...This enterprise has its origin in 1892, a company being then organized by George Greer; president Charles Greer, secretary, and W.S. Folt as treasurer, for the purpose of erecting a tin plate plant. They first erected a four-mill plant with a bar-mill in connection. The works were put in operation October 26, 1893. This company was known as the New Castle Steel and Tin Plate Company and the mill was sometimes known as "Greer's Tin Mill," Mr. Greer being the leading spirit of the enterprise. In 1897, the Shenango Mill, which is the largest mill of its kind in the world, was erected by certain gentlemen representing the Shenango Valley Steel Company, namely William Patterson, John Stevenson, W.E. Reis and others.[5] Before New Castle's Shenango mill was completed, the works were purchased by the American Tin Plate Company. Mr. Greer, Patterson, Stevenson and Reis all built homes in the district.

Another major manufacturing concern was the Pennsylvania Engineering Works Inc. In 1899, the plant manufactured machinery, casting, boilers, blast furnaces, and other steel plant components. The president, Edward King, and vice-president, Edwin N. OhI, both built homes on The North Hill by 1906. The King mansion is located at 316 Rhodes Place and the Oh1 mansion is located at 208 Lincoln Avenue.

In 1901 the Shenango China Company was incorporated and erected a plant in New Castle. The company engaged in the manufacture of semi-virtuous China, both plain and decorative. The president was E.N. Baer, vice-president, Edward Noris, and treasurer, E.E. McGill. Five years later the plant employed over 400 people, some of whom undoubtedly purchased homes on the North Hill which was rapidly expanding. The products they made were shipped all over the world.

By 1906 New Castle began to grow and assert itself as a significant industrial city. Arron L. Hazen in 1906 describes New Castle as follows: "It is chiefly to the extraordinary development of her manufacturing of industries that New Castle owes the great degree of prosperity and fame she now enjoys. The five railway trunk liners joined to give New Castle the distinction of having the heaviest freight traffic of any city of its size in the world. Most of this was the direct result of the phenomenal increase in the extent and importance of her manufacturing interest. Today New Castle manufactories compel the admiration of the world. She has the largest tin plate mills and production of limestone; while the great Carnegie Steel Works, operation four large blast furnaces, the Republic Iron and Steel Company, and the Elliott-Blair Steel Company form another leading factor in her industrial prosperity. In addition to these, factories of window glass, brick, flour, enamel ware, paint, varnish, lumber, cement, and various products of the country, besides other minor industries."[6]

The property in the North Hill Historic District prior to the industrial boom consisted of several large farms that were later subdivided and comprised most of the land for the district. These farms, located in Neshannock Township, were annexed into New Castle in 1858, 1906, and 1949. The John Falls' farm is broken into eight parcels given to Falls family members on April 23, 1868.[7] An additional subdivision of this farm creates Falls Street between N. Mercer Street and N. Mill Street with new lots on both sides.[8] (Only the lots on the North side on Falls Street are in the North Hill Historic District.) On January 26, 1870, other parcels of the Falls farm were further divided and created sixty-two 60' by 160' lots on Wallace and Boyles Avenues between N. Mercer Street and Highland Avenue. William Brown's subdivision created streets and lots between Highland Avenue and East Street on June 16, 1891.[9] Prior to 1892, there was farmland purchased between Lincoln and Wallace, west of Highland Avenue. By 1897, a developer, J.P. Watson bought two farms on the North Hill. The first was Henry C. Falls' farm, located on Falls Avenue east of Highland Avenue. The second one was Matthew Irwin's farm, which J.P. Watson Real Estate Co. subdivided to create Winter, Leasure, Garfield, Highland, Albert and Delaware Avenues and developed into a speculative neighborhood called Neshannock Heights. The upper northern boundary of the district is Fairmont Avenue where there was residential development as early as 1900.

The industrial development in this era caused residential expansion throughout the city and in 1899, seven hundred homes were built. The influx of needed workers and development of New Castle's manufacturing growth is again described by Hazen. He notes the major developing manufacturers were the American Sheet and Tin Company (later U.S. Steel), Pennsylvania Engineering Works, and Shenango Pottery.

The increased demand for iron, tin and steel during World War I accelerated growth and prosperity in the district. By 1917, there were sixty mills in the city and it was considered the fastest growing city in the nation.

The majority of the North Hill buildings (1,208) were constructed during the period from 1900 to 1920. According to a document prepared by the greater New Castle Association for the Sesqui-Centennial Celebration in 1948, the U.S. Bureau of Census recorded the city's population as 11,600 in 1890 and as 48,674 in 1930. These figures represent a population increase of more than thirty-six thousand persons.

The Depression of the 1930's devastated the city, permanently shutting down several plants. As a result, banks closed causing many people to lose their jobs and homes. Penn Power and New Castle Water Company established public works projects, and supplemented workers with baskets of groceries in lieu of payment. The federal government's Works Progress Administration and Civilian Conservation Corps provided needed services that helped to restore dignity of the workers.

During the period 1920 to 1940 only 364 homes were built. The World War II boom did not affect the city immediately. In the spring of 1941, New Castle was portrayed as a ghost town in an article in Harper's magazine.[10] Defense industries provided work in 1942, such as Shenango China, which manufactured ceramic land mines and United Engineering, which provided a large new plant for the city. At the end of World War 11, New Castle was once again faced with staggering unemployment. Many workers traveled to Sharon, Pennsylvania and Youngstown, Ohio to work in mills but continued to live in New Castle. Housing construction did not resume until the G.I. Bill was enacted. The job market improved in the 1950's as Rockwell International moved into the old tin mill and both Shenango China and Johnson Bronze were expanded.

The 1960's and 1970's brought urban renewal and the beginning of extensive demolition to the central business district. Many of the businesses were bought out and relocated to the townships. Several properties, particularly the larger homes, located in and around E. Lincoln Avenue, became rental properties during the 1970's. A business college located off E. Lincoln Avenue bought more than twenty mansions and large homes. These facilities were converted to dormitories with little or no regard to workmanship or architectural significance. Recently, eight of these facilities have been restored and converted to spacious apartments utilizing entire floors. Most of the original character of the buildings was restored.

The North Hill District developed as industry grew. The wealth derived from the industrial boom was used to build several large exceptional homes overlooking the city. These homes were for the upper class residents. The majority of the homes in the district were built for middle management 06 the industrial and commercial businesses in the city.

William Patterson, a wealthy industrialist built a residence on the lower North Hill prior to 1886. The Second Empire style home is located at 315 N. Mercer Street.

The Queen Anne style brick residence at 208 E. Lincoln Avenue was erected ca. 1899 as a residence for Edwin Newton Oh1 who was a regional industrialist. The Ohl family owned the Republic Iron and Steel Inc. of Youngstown, Ohio and Mr. Ohl managed the New Castle division for two years. Mr. Ohl served on several industrial boards such as First National Bank of New Castle, Pennsylvania, Portland Cement Company and Keystone National Bank of Pittsburgh.

The Colonial Revival style mansion at 316 Rhodes Place was built as a residence for Edward and Mary Elizabeth King ca. 1903. At that time, Mr. King was a secretary-treasurer of the Pennsylvania Engineering Works, but later became president. In addition, he was president of the First National Bank.

The North Hill Historic District may be compared with Beaver, Franklin, North Side Historic District of Oil City and South Side Historic District of Oil City. Beaver, like Franklin and New Castle are county seats. Beaver is however almost 100 years older than New Castle and Franklin nearly 20 years older. Beaver Historic District was basically a residential community of upper middle class persons who owned and operated industrial/commercial facilities in other areas throughout the county. Moreover, while Franklin and Oil City are towns that evolved from oil, New Castle developed as an industrial center with iron, steel, tin and great railroad system. The North Hill Historic District became a major residential area for those upper and middle class owners and managers living in a large prosperous industrial city. The North Hill Historic District location, as the name implies, developed north of and above the community's business districts and mills. In New Castle, the laborers' residential areas were to the east, west, and south of the business district, associated with industrial areas that were the economic mainspring of New Castle.

Architectural Significance

The dwellings built in the North Hill Historic District were Late 19th and Early 20th Century American Movements, Late Victorian, and Late 19th and 20th Century Revival styles and meet Criterion C for the National Register. The most popular styles include; Bungalow/Craftsman, American Foursquare, Victorian Folk, Queen Anne, Colonial Revival, Neoclassical and Tudor Revival. Much of the original architectural ornamentation, i.e. columns, spindles, siding, dentil molding, slate roofs, ceramic porch floors, doors, windows, chimneys and towers survives. The Many upper and middle class homes were staunch and formal. Many residences in the North Hill Historic District were designed with a front hall and two sitting rooms where guests could wait for the hosts' arrival, and separate sitting rooms existed for men and women. Also large formal living rooms and dining rooms were prevalent with a smaller servant's kitchen. The bedrooms were located on the second floor, while the third story was often an entertainment or recreation area. Many of the resources in the district have this type of floor plan.

An example of a Lower North Hill, upper class home is the Henderson residence. Built in 1895, at 131 E. Lincoln Avenue. This patterned masonry Queen Anne style dwelling is located at the crest of Highland Avenue overlooking the business district. The massive two and one- half story, square plan edifice is three bays wide with a red tile covered hip roof, gable roof wall dormers with stone trim and finials. The red brick cladding has decorative rough-cut stone courses, quoins and window surrounds. A three-story tower with a conical roof is located in the east bay while the west side has a two story bay window with a conical roof. Mathias Holstein Henderson, who was vice president of Lawrence Savings and Trust, was the original owner. This resource is used as a residence and a funeral home.

Many of the resources in the district were designed by master architects of the period. A two and one-half story, coarse limestone, Queen Anne style dwelling was built ca. 1891 at 330 North Jefferson Street for Leander Raney, a local industrialist and community leader. Mr. Raney was associated with both the Raney & Berger Iron Works and Raney Milling Company. Local architect S. W. Foulk designed the home which is four bays wide with a square turret asymmetrically placed north on the axis of the roof, which contains multiple gables. In the southern bay, there is a round tower with a conical roof. The fenestration is irregular with one-over-one double hung, cottage type and multi-light Queen Anne style windows. S. W. Foulk was also a regional architect well known for his powerful Romanesque Revival style churches and YMCA buildings which can be found in Pennsylvania, Ohio, Virginia, North Carolina and South Carolina. This property was purchased by David Jameson, the founder of Citizens National Bank and Jameson Memorial Hospital, in 1907, and remained in the Jameson family until 1941.

Another prominent architect, Frank H. Foulk, son of S.W. Foulk, was hired in 1904 by tin mill developer, George Greer, to build a residence at 408 North Jefferson St. This stately Colonial Revival style dwelling has a clapboard exterior and is four bays wide decorated with a dentiled cornice line between the second and third floors. The bowed bay front entry west of center has an elaborate classical architrave. The cottage windows have decorative leaded headers and there is a central eyebrow dormer on the hip roof. The full front porch has a dentiled cornice line with braces in the eaves and clustered fluted Ionic columns with a short open balustrade. This building now stands as the home and museum of the Lawrence County Historical Society.

Two other buildings on the North Hill designed by Frank H. Foulk have become museums. The first resource is found at 101 E. Winter Avenue, and was built between 1914-1917. This twenty-five room Tudor Revival style mansion was constructed for Alex Crawford Hoyt, a third generation philanthropist, banker and industrialist. His father, Lewis Stiles Hoyt, was a reputable investor of oil, steel and coal and was also known as a financier. Alex Crawford Hoyt was elected a director of Citizens National Bank, First National Bank and National Bank of Lawrence County, all located in New Castle. Alex Crawford Hoyt and his sister May Emma Hoyt purchased a city block between Leasure and Winter Avenues. Both constructed ornate mansions with deep setbacks from the secondary residential streets. Alex Crawford Hoyt's Tudor Revival style mansion is two and one-half stories high with a common bond brick exterior a width of five bays. The red tile gable roof has a main ridge running east to west and lower cross gable. Brackets are located under the eaves. The interior end brick chimney has a corbelled cap with stone coping and courses. Roof dormers are adorned with kingpost gable decorations and a pair of two story bay windows has battlements and casement windows with transoms. The central entry includes three French doors with round arch openings and sleeping porches located on each side.

May Emma Hoyt's luxurious Colonial Revival style mansion at 124 Leasure Avenue was designed by Charles Owsley, of Youngstown Ohio, and Frank H. Foulk. This two and one-half story, rectangular plan residence is clad in running bond brick. The hip roof is covered with green Spanish tile and includes hip dormers with casement windows. The second floor windows are one-over-one double hung. The bay windows are casement with leaded glass transoms with a decorative frieze and dentils. There is one story classical portico with clustered Doric columns, pilasters and a full entablature. A porte cochere is located on the west side and a sleeping porch on the east side. Both Hoyt properties today house the Hoyt Institute of Fine Arts, serving western Pennsylvania as an art gallery and cultural center. A glassed-in walkway connects the two mansions.

Another local architect, Harry W. Wirsing, designed a home in 1901 for George W. Johnson at 318 Highland Avenue. Johnson was a leading local industrialist in limestone, iron and bronze production. This impressive two and one-half story, brick Colonial Revival style building features bowed bays, classically inspired roof dormers with Ionic pilasters, decorative round windows and is a total of three bays wide. The second floor has a tripartite stained glass window with stained glass circular windows on each side. This building which overlooks the city is consistently maintained, and is currently used as law offices.

A good example of a contributing resource that exhibits an eclectic mix of Arts and Crafts influences is a residence at 317 Clen-Moore Boulevard. This building, constructed in the 1920's strongly reflects Prairie style design. The low-pitched, hipped roofs have deep eave overhangs and the exterior is covered with vinyl siding. There are large multi-light bowed windows on the first floor. The upper story has both casement and double hung windows with diamond and rectangular shaped lights. Additionally, the second floor has a bay window above the main porch. The main porch has a low pitched hipped roof and low stone walls with deep raked joints. The covered porch on the west side has a rounded corner and a wrought iron railing. There is an octagonal plan porch on the east side, which has half height stone walls. The front door has a twelve lite window with wooden panels below.

A two story, rectangular plan Colonial Revival style dwelling at 207 Clen-Moore Boulevard is a representation of architectural significant buildings constructed between 1931and 1949. This wood frame residence was built in the 1940's and has a foundation of molded rustic faced concrete block. The side gable roof has little eave overhang and is covered with asphalt shingles. The exterior is clad with weatherboard. The fenestration includes casement windows on the first floor and double hung windows on the second floor. The entrance has a gabled pediment with dentils and fluted pilasters. There is a twelve lite, wooden storm door and a paneled main door. The side porch has a shed roof supported by pairs of wooden posts and is enhanced by trellis work.

The North Hill Historic District is a strong example of an upper and middle-management residential neighborhood in Western Pennsylvania. Comparing the district's architecture to Beaver, Oil City and Franklin, Pennsylvania's historic districts, we find significant similarities. Oil City North Side district, Beaver and Franklin districts all show similar styles like Italianate, Queen Anne, American Foursquare, Bungalow/Craftsman, and Victorian. Also, buildings exhibiting Romanesque Revival, Gothic Revival, and Neo-Classical styles are found in the four historic districts. The major difference between the North Hill District and the other three approved districts is the number of resources plus total land-mass that comprise the North Hill District. The North Hill Historic District land-mass is 30% greater than the largest of the approved comparative districts, and has 23% more resources than the Beaver Historic District, next highest comparative district.

The district is a neighborhood of diverse architectural styles and workmanship representative of New Castle's upper and middle-management residences during a time of booming industrial growth, and thereby meets both National Register criterion from 1870 to 1930 and between 1931 and 1949, as a neighborhood of diverse architecturally significant styles.

End Notes

  1. 1 Century History of New Castle and Lawrence County, Pennsylvania, pg. 110
  2. 1998 New Castle Polk Directory
  3. 20th Century History of New Castle and Lawrence County, Pennsylvania, pg. 74
  4. 20th Century History of New Castle and Lawrence County, Pennsylvania, pg. 81
  5. 20th Century History of New Castle and Lawrence County, Pennsylvania, pg. 122,125
  6. 20th Century History of New Castle and Lawrence County Pennsylvania pg. 133
  7. Lawrence County Agreement book 1, pg. 291
  8. Lawrence County Deed Book IS, pg. 423 of January 2, 1868
  9. Lawrence County Plot Book 1, pg. 32
  10. A Portrait of an American City: 200 Years of New Castle History, May 3, 1998, pg. 9

Bibliographic References

‡ Thomas J. George, North Hill Historic District, Lawrence County, PA, nomination document, 1999, National Park Service, National Register of Historic Places, Washington, D.C.

Nearby Neighborhoods

Street Names
Albert Street • Beaver Street • Berger Place • Blaine Street • Boyles Avenue • Carlisle Street • Centennial Street • Clen-Moore Street • Cottage Street • Craig Street • Crawford Terrace • Crescent Street • Delaware Street • East Street • Edison Street • Emerson Street • Euclid Avenue • Garfield Avenue • Laurel Avenue • Leasure Avenue • Lincoln Avenue • Mercer Street • Mills Way • Moody Avenue • Park Road • Sheridan Avenue • Wallace Avenue • Young Street

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