Collection Type:

1872 to 1958

Frederick G. Scheibler, Jr., a Pittsburgh native, received his architectural training as an apprentice in local firms before opening his own office ca. 1901. His first independent works were quite conventional in their use of historical precedents. Unlike most of his contemporaries, however, Scheibler developed a deep interest in the progressive European architectural movements of the turn of the century, and by 1905 was experimenting with forms inspired by the Arts and Crafts Movement, the English Free Style, the Viennese Secession and Art Nouveau. Although Scheibler has often been characterized as a modernist, and some of his works have strikingly modern qualities for their time, he is best understood as a progressive -- an architect who attempted to restate traditional architectural ideas in a new and personal way. For example, Scheibler, unlike most modernists, did not repudiate ornamentation. But Scheibler's ornament was unlike that of his contemporaries, for he used simple art glass and tilework -- which often featured naturalistic motifs like flowers and birds -- to accent plain stucco or brick walls. His trademark, the exposed I-beam lintel over windows, doors, and porches, was a frank and highly unusual use of a modern structural material in the role of a traditional building element.

Scheibler's apartment buildings, houses, rowhouses, and so-called "group cottage" developments are particularly striking elements in the built environment of the Pittsburgh area because of the architect's ability to create original compositions through the use of dramatic massing, rich detailing, and varied materials.

Many of Scheibler's early projects are documented by complete sets of working drawings and occasional watercolor cartoons for art glass and tile. The working drawings for later projects -- i.e. plans, elevations, interior elevations and details, and a structural section -- were often compressed onto one or two sheets that apparently doubled as presentation drawings.

Scope and Content: 

The renderings, drawings, blueprints, specifications, and photographs of the Scheibler Collection document almost 100 Scheibler projects, nearly all in southwestern Pennsylvania. Photographs from a 1962 Scheibler exhibition at the Carnegie Institute augment materials acquired from Scheibler's office.

Select Bibliography: 

Aurand, Martin. The Progressive Architecture of Frederick G. Scheibler, Jr. Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press, 1994.

Belnap, Gillian Hirth. The Apartment Buildings of Frederick G. Scheibler, Jr.: With a Catalogue of All His Multiple Residences. Ann Arbor, MI: University Microfilms International, 1985, 1986.