Feature: Albion Bindley, Architect/Builder
By Albert M. Tannler
Historical Collections Director
Pittsburgh History & Landmarks Foundation
Architect/builder Albion Bindley (February 5, 1851-March 10, 1904) was the youngest of three brothers. Edwin Bindley (1842-1906) and John Bindley (1846-1921) were his older brothers.
Although the family was English, their primary American ancestor was John Cooper Bindley (1808-1881) who emigrated from England to Pittsburgh in 1829.
John Cooper Bindley [was] born during his father’s residence in America, at Williamsport, [Pa.] in 1808, was educated in the famous English school of Professor Cross, returned to America, and after a few years in the Eastern states removed to Pittsburgh, Pa., and became a contractor and builder, conducting his business with that astuteness that was so characteristic of those pioneers of that manufacturing city. He was also an architect, which materially facilitated his operations as contractor and builder. He, as his own affairs broadened and prospered, became interested in those of the people and of the city in general. He was first of all loyal to his trade and profession, and in this he had the cooperation of his clients and, more important still, that of his subordinates in his various constructive operations. He became interested in the banking institutions of Pittsburgh almost as soon as he began to build houses and other structures, and was early a trustee of the Dollar Savings Bank, remaining in this capacity until his death.
John Cooper Bindley had three sons who became prominent in Pittsburgh––Edwin, John, and Albion. Albion had married Sarah L. Slocom on June 5, 1889, in Allegheny, Pa. In 1900 they had a son, Albion, Jr., 10, and a daughter, Almira, 8.
All three brothers were involved with the Bindley Hardware Company, established in Pittsburgh in 1901. Albion designed and constructed the Bindley Hardware Company headquarters, 401 Amberson Avenue, Shadyside, erected in 1903; Edwin was the vice-president and John the president of Bindley Hardware. John also served as president of the National Hardware Association.
[John] Bindley chose to erect a new wholesale facility that provided direct access to the railroads, and to the road systems, and which would serve as an example of the efficiencies which he assumed would come from the business combine. The new building was begun within six months of the collapse of negotiations for the combine, and made the Bindley Hardware Company . . . “the largest of its kind in Pittsburgh,” while its railroad siding and access to the vast trackage of the Pennsylvania Railroad made its “facilities for handling goods, unexcelled by those of any other hardware house in the country.”
The Nomination Form notes:
The new building was erected by Albion Bindley, youngest of the three brothers, who had taken over the architectural and construction business of their father. Though conservative in style as industrial buildings tend to be, it is architecturally imposing, as it merged the materials and colors with the larger scale classicism of the turn of the century, that in turn recalled the mass and architectionic effect of Henry Hobson Richardson’s great courthouse. Though the warehouse is architecturally impressive, Albion Bindley’s real task was to create a building that would function as an extension of John Bindley’s vision of an integrated industrial storage, sales and shipment facility not unlike the contemporary Sears, Roebuck & Co. of Chicago for housewares and dry goods.
The Bindley Hardware Company was placed on the National Register on June 24, 1985.
William M. Johnston, four-story frame dwelling, Francis street between Wylie and Center avenues. Builder, Albion Bindley. Architecture and Building: A Journal of Investment and Construction. Building (News Supplement) VIII: no. 23, 1888: 180.
Shadyside Commons apartments, formerly Bindley Hardware Company, 401 Amberson Avenue, Shadyside, 1903.
John W. Jordan, ed., Encyclopedia of Pennsylvania Biography, Vol. II. New York: 1917:49-57.
John Bindley obituary, New York Times, 17 December 1921: 13.
Fleming, George Thomas. “Men Widely Famed: John Bindley,” History of Pittsburgh and Environs, from Prehistoric Days to the Beginning of the American Revolution, Vol. 3 (1922): 870-872.
Pittsburgh Board of Trade. The East End. 1907: 41.
Ancestry.com—Pennsylvania County Marriages, 1845-1963/1900 United States Federal Census/Pennsylvania, Death Certificates, 1906-1964.
Albert M. Tannler
 John W. Jordan, ed., Encyclopedia of Pennsylvania Biography, Vol. II. New York: 1917: 49-57. Articles on John Cooper Bindley, Edwin Bindley, and John Bindley. Another son, Josiah, is mentioned but no other information is given. Also included in the article are grandsons Edward H. Bindley (b. 1878) and Albion Bindley, Jr. (b. 1890).
 George T. Fleming, History of Pittsburgh and Environs, from Prehistoric Days to the Beginning of the American Revolution, Vol. 3 (1922): 871.
 National Register of Historic Places Inventory––Nomination Form, prepared by George E. Thomas, Ph.D., “Bindley Hardware Company,” Section 8, page 3. Quotation from Pittsburgh Board of Trade, The East End, 1907: 41.
 Nomination Form, Section 8, page 4.
 John Cooper Bindley’s daughter Zabina married William M. Johnston.