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Pitt students trace evolution of historic Bloomfield mansion

By Laura Van Wert
Friday, August 1, 2008 

The historic windows of a Bloomfield mansion have a set replacement schedule.

It’s one of several results of a 12-week study by a class of University of Pittsburgh students who investigated the architectural history of the Henry J. Lynch House, which is home to the Waldorf School.

The research uncovered the chronological history of the ownership, building additions, subtractions and renovations as the property changed from a private residence to a school.

“It was actually really interesting going into the archives,” said Lauren McConnell, 22, a senior architecture student in the class. “It sounds kind of mundane, but it’s really interesting finding out who did what and when.”

Nine students presented results Thursday on different aspects of the building.The Lynch House has a complicated history, they said. The property was first owned by the Winebiddle Family in the early 1800s. Henry Lynch, who made his living selling dry goods, bought the property and started construction of the mansion in 1868.

The deed passed through several hands before it was bought by the Ursuline Order in 1895 for $33,000. Throughout the 20th century Ursuline Academy served as an exclusive and progressive school for girls.

In 1993, JoEdda Sampson bought the building and renovated parts of it. The property was sold in 2003 and is owned by the Waldorf School of Pittsburgh.

The Waldorf School will seek to place the Lynch House on the National Register of Historic Places.

This is the first Pitt architecture class to offer historical preservation field work to students, said Jeff Slack, the course instructor and architect for Pfaffmann & Associates in Pittsburgh.

The idea came about last year when Brendan Froeschl, facilities manager of the Waldorf School, contacted Drew Armstrong, director of the Architectural Studies program at Pitt, about starting field work on the preservation of the Lynch House, Slack said.

“This is an opportunity for learning, and an opportunity for partnering,” Slack said. “There is such a broad historic classroom outside.”

Three or four more years of research remain for future classes to conduct. Next summer, the class will investigate the property’s chapel.

“There’s really not a limit of what we can do,” Slack said.


Pittsburgh History & Landmarks Foundation

100 West Station Square Drive, Suite 450

Pittsburgh, PA 15219

Phone: 412-471-5808  |  Fax: 412-471-1633