Chatham Village

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Chatham Village Historic District
Some houses in the Chatham Village Historic District
Chatham Village is located in Pennsylvania
Chatham Village
Location Roughly bounded by Virginia Ave., Bigham St.,Woodruff St., Saw Mill Run Blvd., and Olympia Rd., Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
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Area 46 acres (190,000 m2)
Built 1932 to 1936
Architect Clarence Stein and Henry Wright
Architectural style Georgian Colonial Revival, Classical Revival
NRHP Reference # 98001372[1]
Significant dates
Added to NRHP November 25, 1998 [1]
Designated NHLD April 5, 2005[3]
Designated PHLF 1990[2]

Chatham Village is a community within the larger Mount Washington neighborhood of the City of Pittsburgh, and an internationally acclaimed model of community design. Chatham Village Historic District, is a historic district in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA. It is roughly bounded by Virginia Ave., Bigham St., Woodruff St., Saw Mill Run Blvd., and Olympia Rd. It was declared a National Historic Landmark in 2005.[3][4]


Chatham Village was built 1932-1936, and was designed by Clarence Stein and Henry Wright on the principles of the Garden City Movement of the early 20th century. It is in the Georgian Colonial Revival style. It was built to show that affordable housing for the working class could be attractive and safe, however it quickly became a middle- and upper-class neighborhood because it was so attractive. The funding was provided by Pittsburgh's Buhl Foundation.


In 2007, Chatham Village was included in the American Planning Association's list of Great Neighborhoods as part of its Great Places in America program, which recognized 10 neighborhoods from across the nation for good design, function, sustainability, and community involvement.[5]

In The Death and Life of Great American Cities, writer Jane Jacobs criticizes Chatham Village as an example of how Garden City planning created islands of class homogeneity, thus fostering economic and social distance within Pittsburgh and other cities. Jacobs cites Chatham Village residents' inabilities to cooperate with other parents once their children entered the more economically and socially diverse local junior high school, which drew lower-class and lower-middle-class students from outside of Chatham Village. In Jacobs' view, the success of Chatham Village as an urban community in a park-like setting depended upon the residents' tendencies to trust one another due to the similarities in their professional, economic, and social status. The ideals of city planning expressed in the Garden City Movement, Jacobs argues, are only suitable for upper-middle-class lifestyles and, thus, fail to engage the endemic economic and social diversity of cities.[6]

The Homes

View of the back of some homes (with deeply recessed garages) fronting on the street

The homes are red-brick-and-slate-roof townhomes. They are situated in clusters toward interior courtyards with their rears facing the loop roads around the property. The homes do have rear-access integral garages in the basements but these are recessed several feet to greatly reduce the visual impact.

The community is regarded as one of the best-preserved examples of the Garden City concept by city planners, architects, and landscape architects. It is also a National Historic Landmark, on the National Register of Historic Places, and is on the List of Pittsburgh History and Landmarks Foundation Historic Landmarks.

The Bigham House, built in 1844, now known as Chatham Hall

Chatham Hall

The complex includes the Bigham House (former home of Thomas Bigham), originally built in 1844, and renovated for use as a community clubhouse, known as Chatham Hall. Thomas James Bigham (1810-1884) was an abolitionist lawyer, and his house was "purportedly a station on the Underground Railroad".[7]



  1. 1.0 1.1 Staff (2010-07-09). "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. Historic Landmark Plaques 1968-2009 (PDF). Pittsburgh, PA: Pittsburgh History & Landmarks Foundation. 2010. Retrieved 2011-07-30.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. 3.0 3.1 "Chatham Village". National Historic Landmark Quicklinks. National Park Service. Retrieved 20 March 2012.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. Edith B. Wallace and Paula S. Reed (December 12, 2003). National Register of Historic Places Registration: Chatham Village (pdf). National Park Service.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. "Neighborhood in Mt. Washington cited as one of nation's top 10". Pittsburgh Truibune-Review (October 3). 2007. Retrieved 2008-11-05.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  6. Jane Jabobs, The Death and Life of Great American Cities (New York: Modern Library, 2001 [1961]), 83-85.
  7. African American historic sites survey of Allegheny County, Eliza Smith Brown, Daniel Holland, et al., page 173 (1994, Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania . ISBN 0-89271-064-0. Missing or empty |title= (help)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>)

External links