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The Reymer House
Origins

On April 13, 1868 — almost three years to the day after Lee’s surrender at Appomattox — Pittsburgh confectioner Jacob Reymer purchased the lots upon which he would build his home. Learn More

Jacob Reymer

A partner in the well-known Reymer Brothers wholesale grocery and confectionary firm, Reymer himself never found his way into the Pittsburgh Social Register. Learn More

Architectural Description

A structure of the mid-Victorian era, Reymer House is more a reflection of the Eclectic Movement, which began in the last decades of the nineteenth century. Learn More

Interior Description

Through the front carved-walnut doors is a walnut-paneled vestibule which is tiled with multi-colored mosaics of the period. The second walnut door of the front vestibule opens into an ell-shaped reception hall, whose focal point is a brass-lined fireplace surrounded by bronze-colored ceramic tile. Learn More

On April 13, 1868 — almost three years to the day after Lee’s surrender at Appomattox — Pittsburgh confectioner Jacob Reymer purchased the lots upon which he would build his home. However, it was not until 1883, 15 years later, that Reymer House was built in Manchester which had by then been annexed to the City of Allegheny on the North Shore of the Allegheny River, across from the City of Pittsburgh. Today, Manchester has been declared a historic district, and Reymer House is registered on the National Registry of Historic Landmarks.

A partner in the well-known Reymer Brothers wholesale grocery and confectionary firm, Reymer himself never found his way into the Pittsburgh Social Register. (Like H.J. Heinz, Reymer was considered a mere peddler!) Nevertheless, Reymer was a household word to four generations of Pittsburgh candy-lovers.

The Reymer Candy Company made more than 700 different kinds of candy and operated six retail candy stores in downtown Pittsburgh and surrounding communities until the late 1950s. Reymer was perhaps best known for its frosty, lemon drink, Reymer’s Lem-N-Blennd, which is still on the market.

A structure of the mid-Victorian era, Reymer House is more a reflection of the Eclectic Movement, which began in the last decades of the nineteenth century. Its simplicity and severity of style is an alliance of the Richardsonian brick domestic tradition common to Pittsburgh at that time with the characteristics of Colonial Revival.

Although lacking the historical decorative crown over the front door supported by pilasters, the three-story, 51- by 61-foot rectangular brick structure features a 3-ranked facade with symmetrically balanced windows and center door, reminiscent of the Colonial Georgian or Adams tradition. The ornately carved, 10-foot-high walnut double doors are the focal point of the front facade. Knobs and escutcheons are polished brass. The 3-ranked facade is repeated at the second and third levels.

Only a small percentage of Colonial Revival houses are three stories high, and, like them, Reymer House has a low-pitched, standing-seam tin, hipped roof. Two decorative borders of patterned brick near the eaves add a fanciful touch to the almost stark, totally business-like exterior.

An additional bit of gingerbread is found in the elaborate frame canopy which covers the back porch, and a cast-iron fence which runs along the front and side of the house.

A two-story brick carriage house (as yet unrestored) sits at the back of the property. It is one of the last remaining in Manchester.

Through the front carved-walnut doors is a walnut-paneled vestibule which is tiled with multi-colored mosaics of the period. The second walnut door of the front vestibule opens into an ell-shaped reception hall, whose focal point is a brass-lined fireplace surrounded by bronze-colored ceramic tile with an ornately carved and mirrored walnut mantle extending to the ceiling. The fireplace is positioned to direct the eye to the dramatic main staircase, highlighted by a window of stained and painted glass on the landing, displaying a panorama of leaves and roundels of birds. Behind the staircase is a butler’s sink.

Leather wainscoting and walnut dado line the walls throughout the first floor reception area and continues along the left wall of the staircase and throughout the second-floor hall. The ceiling is delicately stenciled in pastels and gold with a design which combines geometric and floral patterns and repeats the blue and bronze of the fireplace hearth. The flooring is hardwood parquet with different inlaid perimeter patterns in each room.

Three formal rooms with 13-foot ceilings adjoin the reception hall. To the right, on entering, through sliding walnut doors, was the parlor. A floor-to-ceiling, panel-shuttered window looks out onto West North Avenue and emphasizes the spaciousness of the 21- by 15-foot room. The ceiling, its center medallion of plaster still intact, is joined to the walls by plaster cornice molding.

To the left of the reception hall is what was once the library. This 15- by-16-foot room repeats the floor-to-ceiling, panel-shuttered window of the parlor and the ceiling molding.

The formal dining room is accessible through both the reception hall and a rear hall leading to the kitchen. Here the walnut fireplace mantel is crowned with the original ornately framed mirror (to reflect, no doubt, flickering candles lighting the banquet table).

The kitchen is adjoined to a small pantry that was once twice as large before being partitioned to create a first-floor powder room just off the front reception hall.

A back staircase provides secondary access to the second floor and is the only way of getting to the third floor, suggesting that the third floor was designated for the servants’ quarters.

On the second floor is a master suite consisting of a bedroom and sitting room joined by an arched passageway. Two additional bedrooms and a bath complete the second level. In the bath are the original claw-foot tub and a marble sink accented by brass legs. The central hallway repeats the leather wainscoting, walnut dado, and stenciled ceiling of the first floor foyer. Ceilings here are 11 feet high, and original plaster medallions remain in the central hall and one bedroom. Floors are hardwood throughout. Second-floor fireplaces (two of them with Eastlake mantles) are less dramatic than those on the first floor but feature the same dark carved walnut accented with colorful ceramic tile. The windows, like those on the first floor, are shuttered.

The modest third floor has five rooms surrounding a skylighted central hall. The ceilings here are only 9-foot and the floors are of soft pine. Two rooms are without fireplaces. In the others, two have relatively simple oak mantles, and the third is of gray and red slate with simple, decorative carving.