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Meet me at the corner of Broad & Beaver...

Updated: Aug 22, 2023

All over America, the street that intersects the main drag brings forth the prevailing image of that town. In Sewickley, no doubt about it, Broad & Beaver is the local equivalent of Hollywood & Vine.

Certainly, Fortune was smiling on Sewickley Village when, in the second decade of the 20th century, businessman Earl W. Myers hired architect Herman A. Lord to spruce up his premises on the southwest corner of Broad and Beaver. The plan brought forth by Lord found immediate favor with the Sewickley Herald, which declared on the front page of its July 1, 1916, issue that “Ye Olde Englishe Shoppe on Main Corner Makes Town Look Better.”

A “before” photo, from a postcard in the SVHS collection. S. C. Ritchey grocery store, at the corner of Broad & Beaver, advertises boldly on the building that would be redesigned in 1916.

A photo of the refurbished prominent corner accompanies the article, which declares that the project “has made a wonderful difference in the appearance of the town of Sewickley.” As described by the Herald in 1916, the façade presents the appearance “of a handsome, timbered-plaster shop in imitation of the picturesque ancient English style, neat and clean in the extreme, and it sets off to advantage the whole row of adjoining business buildings

along both streets.”

The newly remodeled corner of Broad & Beaver, from the 1916 Herald

Now, nearly 90 years later, one concludes that architect Lord’s design has stood the test of time. It still brings that little hint of the English country town to Sewickley.

Herman A. Lord told the Herald that he got his ideas for the corner building from a building on Old Compton Street in London, although he did not follow the design exactly. Lord was an architect well-equipped to bring an artistic touch to the drawing board. He had formerly worked in the offices of Rutan & Russell, a Pittsburgh firm known for outstanding domestic architecture, and later with Charles Barton Keene, a Philadelphia architect who also designed

for Sewickley’s well-to-do. The Lord office was in Ambridge, where he designed a number of houses and commercial buildings. He was the architect of Ambridge High School.

In its 1916 article, the Herald praised the go-ahead spirit of Earl W. Myers and suggested that other property owners in Sewickley might do well to follow suit with future renovations in the English style. It was not to be, but was an interesting suggestion nonetheless.

- B. G. Shield

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