Singer Chapel

Singer Chapel on the left, Wilkinsburg Public Library Digital Archives

James Van Trump writes in 1983 of John F. Singer,

He had his own detached chapel near the main house; it was, perhaps, the only building of its kind ever erected in Pittsburgh. It was, with its sharply-pointed Gothic bell tower, the most salient building on the grounds, until its destruction by fire about six years ago [summer of 1976]. Here John Singer would conduct services of matins and vespers, “helped out” on occasion by visiting priests. This unique building should have been preserved.

Ika Stotler calls attention to the trefoil and quatrfoil theme in the house and the chapel, and gives perspective on the chapel,

The truly Gothic theme of trefoil and quatrefoil is everywhere repeated, inside and outside, also in the chapel, a charming little separate building near the side of the house, with a small pointed cupola housing the bell which summoned the field-hands and household workers to daily devotions, attended also by family members and presided over by Mr. Singer. Occasionally clergymen from the district were invited to officiate at the chapel services, among them the Rev. John Newell. This cupola of grey, weather-seasoned oak perched astride the chapel roof presents an odd optical illusion. Seen from the left front it looks to be crazily slanted towards the right. Viewed head on, front, the cupola stands straight as it should, seen from right of center it slopes left, leaving the viewer bewildered. Beneath this chapel which has diamond-pane windows, also circular porthole lights, was, at one time, a vast circular tank or cistern for storing water from the various springs in which the hillside abounded.

At some point, the chapel was turned into a garage.

Gazette, January 29,1975
Wilkinsburg Public Library Digital Archives
Wilkinsburg Public Library Digital Archives

James D. Van Trump, Life and Architecture in Pittsburgh. Pittsburgh: Pittsburgh History & Landmarks Foundation, 1983, p. 260.

Wilkinsburg Public Library Archives:

Ilka M. Stotler, research and writing, “The Singer Place in Wilkinsburg.” Paper read before the Wilkinsburg Historical Society in 1954.