Topics & Collections

small text medium text large text

South Side: John Eichleay Jr. Co.


At the time of the illustrations in this exhibit, John Eichleay Jr. Co. was located at South 20th and Wharton Streets on Pittsburgh's South Side. Today--1996--The Eichleay Companies are headquartered at Fifth and Penn Avenues, in Pittsburgh's Point Breeze.

A Vertical House Moving

From Scientific American, 12 December 1903.
There have been some remarkable feats of house moving chronicled from time to time in the columns of the Scientific American; but surely the one of which we here present illustrations, in which a fine old mansion was lifted 160 feet from the banks of the Monongahela to the summit of the cliffs above, is the most remarkable of them all. The building, which is known as the Brown mansion, has stood for several generations at the foot of the lofty and precipitous cliffs which line the river at this point. It was built by a Capt. William Brown, father of the present owner, and has been a landmark at Brown's Station on the Baltimore & Ohio Railway for many years. Among the many improvements of their track which are being carried out by the Baltimore & Ohio Railway Company is the straightening out of their line, by the elimination of the sharper curves, especially on those portions of the line which follow the windings of the river. At Brown's Station, where this house was located, the railway company required for improvement purposes the ground on which the building stood; and when the site had been sold to the company, the question arose as to what disposition should be made of the old mansion. At the top of the cliff, 160 feet above the former site of the house, is a fine stretch of orchard land belonging to the present owners of the house, and largely from sentimental reasons, it was decided to move the building up the face of the cliff and place it on this elevated site, which commands a fine view of the river and the surrounding country. The difficulty of the task will be understood when it is stated that the building measures 85 feet by 40 feet, and weighs about 800 tons. The first operation was to insert eight large timbers, measuring 12 inches by 16 inches, and 85 feet in length, beneath the building, while between these and the structure were laid about 200 7-inch steel needle-beams. While this was going on, the face of the cliff was stepped out into four benches of about 30-foot lift each. The building was then raised a little at a time by hand jacks, and the eight walls of timber cribwork built up beneath it. The blocking was all carefully sized to 6 inches by 8 inches. The cribwork was stiffened in both directions by means of 8 x 8-inch waling pieces, and it was sway-braced by half-inch chains with turnbuckles. When the house had been lifted 30 feet, it was drawn onto the first bench by means of two winches on the top of the cliff, each driven by two horses, a 2-inch line with four-part blocks being used. Another lift of 30 feet was then made to the next bench, and the various operations were repeated, until the house was landed on its new site, 200 feet back from the old site and 160 feet above it. As may well be imagined, a vast amount of timber was required for this work, amounting in all to 20,000 carefully-sized sticks, which required twenty cars to transport them. The actual cost of this house moving is not given out, but it is well understood that it considerably exceeds the original cost of the house itself. We are indebted for our illustrations and particulars to Messrs. John Eichleay, Jr., Company, the contractors for this unique piece of engineering work.


Organizations. Narrative. Outline. Neighborhoods. Main Menu.