William Ross Proctor was born April 5, 1863 in New York City. He was one of three children of William Fash Proctor (1826-1902) and Vouletti Theresa Singer (1840-1913). His siblings were Charles Edward and Ada Olive. His mother was one of the children of Isaac Merritt Singer (1811-75), founder of the Singer Sewing Machine Company.
Proctor graduated from the Columbia College School of Mines in 1884 with an engineering degree and moved to Pittsburgh in December of the same year. Shortly thereafter, he began the practice of architecture and also met Elizabeth Singer to whom he was married June 9, 1886. The wedding took place in the grand Allegheny home of the bride’s parents, William Henry and Hester Laird Singer.
While little has been written about Proctor’s architecture career, he appears to have had a successful practice. Research suggests that he was adept in an eclectic array of building types, including residential, commercial, ecclesiastical and public works. He was also skilled in the design of ornamental iron and bronze architectural elements. More than once he beat out a number of more prominent architects for important commissions, including the North Presbyterian Church (1896) and Western Pennsylvania Hospital (1897, unbuilt). The former once stood a block from the Willock House on the southeast corner of Lincoln and Galveston Streets. Other important designs include The Stevenson Building in East Liberty and the Pumping Station on the Allegheny River (off Freeport Road near the Waterworks Mall).
Proctor lived in Allegheny near many of his wealthy clients at 934 Ridge Avenue. For a time he had partners in his practice, with certain commissions being attributed to Proctor & Wass and others to Proctor, Wass & Tufts. For a time, he was also associated with Thorsten E. Billquist, who designed the Allegheny Observatory (1900). Proctor is known to have had offices at various times in the Hamilton Building, the Stevenson Building and at 341 Sixth Avenue.
After his father’s death in 1902, Proctor retired from the architecture profession to take charge of the family estate in New York. He later became a stock broker and special partner in the New York Stock Exchange firm of Barbour & Co. In 1915 he became a special partner in the firm Abbott, Hoppin & Co.
He held memberships in over thirty clubs and societies, among which were the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Architectural League of New York, the Union League Club, the Society of Colonial Wars in the United States and the New England Genealogical Society. He was Vice President of the New York Genealogical and Biographical Society where he was instrumental in overseeing the construction of their new building in 1929. He died at Harbor Hospital in New York on February 6, 1930 from pneumonia.
For more detailed biographical information about William Ross Proctor, including family trees and historic photographs, see sandpond.org (the source of much of the biographical information above).
William Walter Willock was born in Allegheny City (now the North Side of Pittsburgh) on March 9, 1863. He was one of at least four children of John S. Willock, a coal merchant, and Josephine Hays Willock, born in Pennsylvania to American-born parents. When William W. Willock was born, his family lived in a house that John and Josephine Willock owned at 73 Isabella Street in Allegheny City. The Willock home was near the present site of the Andy Warhol Museum, and was directly across a narrow alley from the Eagle Cotton Mills, which occupied an entire city block.
In 1873-1874, the Willock family moved from Isabella Street to 905 (then 44) Beech Avenue in what is now Allegheny West. The family’s move was part of a post-Civil War movement of middle-class and wealthy families from neighborhoods with commercial and industrial components, such as Downtown Pittsburgh and lower Allegheny City, to neighborhoods or streets that were at least generally residential. William W. Willock lived at 905 Beech Avenue until he was married.
William Willock, according to his obituary, attended Allegheny City public schools, the Chester Military Academy (predecessor of Widener University in Chester, Pennsylvania), and the Western University of Pennsylvania (predecessor of the University of Pittsburgh). In the early 1880s, Willock began working for the Third National Bank of Pittsburgh on Wood Street at Virgin Way, Downtown, as a messenger. He advanced to a position as a clerk in about 1884 and held that job for over a decade.
On April 16, 1889, William Willock, 26, married Alice B. Jones, 23. Alice Jones was born on April 18, 1866 in Downtown Pittsburgh. Her parents were Benjamin Franklin Jones, a prominent iron and steel manufacturer, and Mary McMasters Jones. B.F. Jones was a founder of Jones & Laughlin (later the Jones & Laughlin Steel Company; later the Jones & Laughlin Steel Corporation), which operated iron and steel mills in and near Pittsburgh. During approximately the last three decades of the nineteenth century and the early twentieth century, the Jones family lived in a mansion at the northwestern corner of Brighton and North Lincoln Avenues.
William and Alice Jones Willock lived with the Jones family for approximately the first four years after they were married. Their first child, Franklin Jones Willock, was born in January 1891. The Willocks moved from the Jones residence to their newly constructed house at 705 Brighton Road in 1892 or 1893.
William Willock worked as a clerk until about 1894, when he became the general manager of the Monongahela Connecting Railroad. The Monongahela Connecting Railroad was a subsidiary of the Jones & Laughlin Steel Company, and was headquartered in the parent company’s offices at Third Avenue and Try Street, Downtown. The railroad crossed the Monongahela River on the Hot Metal Bridge near South 29th Street, connecting Jones & Laughlin’s Soho Iron Works and its Hazelwood operations on the northern side of the river with its American Iron and Steel Works on the South Side.
William W. Willock (far right. courtesy University of Pittsburgh)
William W. Willock Jr., the Willocks’ second and last child, was born in the early 1900s.
William Willock was the general manager of the Monongahela Connecting Railroad until 1901, when he became its vice president. He joined the board of directors of the Jones & Laughlin Steel Company in 1902.
The Willocks became the owners of a summer home, Gladmore Farm in Sewickley Heights, in about 1901. In about 1905, they began using Gladmore Farm as their primary residence. The Willocks continued to own 705 Brighton Road.
A 1912 social directory listed three addresses for the Willocks: their Pittsburgh residence at 705 Brighton Road, their summer home at Gladmore Farm and a winter home called Billswood on Forest Avenue in Lakewood, New Jersey. Although the 1912 social directory listed 705 Brighton Road as the family’s first address, Pittsburgh and Sewickley directories published after 1906 consistently listed William Willock’s home as Sewickley Heights. Willock was listed in Pittsburgh directories sporadically after 1910, suggesting that he may have been semi-retired or that he spent much of his time at the family’s Lakewood, New Jersey home. The Willocks later had a second home at 998 Fifth Avenue in Manhattan and a summer home in Syosset, Long Island.
The Willock family began to rent 705 Irwin Avenue to tenants at some point between 1912 and 1919. Their first known tenants at 705 Brighton Road were Charles F. Patterson, an attorney, and his family. The house remained a single-family home through at least 1923. It became a rooming house by 1927-1928, when the Willocks rented it to Anna E. Barbe, an established North Side rooming house operator. Anna Barbe lived at 705 Brighton Road and used the property as a rooming house until the early 1940s. Pittsburgh directories show that William Willock maintained an office in room 1926 of the Oliver Building, Downtown, in the 1920s and 1930s.
William Willock served on the board of directors of the Jones & Laughlin Steel Corporation until he died on March 8, 1939. Willock died at age 76 in Syosset, Long Island, at or near his summer home there.
Alice Jones Willock survived her husband by less than three months. She died on May 30, 1939, at age 73. Her executors sold 705 Brighton Road in 1944.
Pittsburgh iron and steel manufacturer B.F. Jones commissioned construction of 705 Brighton Road in 1892 or 1893 as a home for his son-in-law and daughter, William W. and Alice Jones Willock. The house was built in the Chateauesque style. It took the place of an earlier house that had stood on the lot since the late 1850s or 1860s. A three-story brick stable was constructed at the rear of the property in 1898.
William and Alice Jones Willock began living at 705 Brighton Road after construction was completed in 1892-1893. In 1894, B.F. Jones transferred title to the new house to the Willocks. The couple lived at 705 Brighton Road for more than a decade, and owned the house until they died in 1939.
William W. Willock was a clerk when he began living at 705 Brighton Road. In about 1894, Willock became the manager of the Monongahela Connecting Railroad, a subsidiary of the Jones & Laughlin Steel Company, in which his father-in-law was a founding partner. Willock became vice-president of the railroad in 1901. He joined the board of directors of Jones & Laughlin in 1902, and remained on the board for the rest of his life.
William and Alice Willock had two children: Franklin Jones Willock and William Willock Jr. Records of the 1900 census show that the family employed five servants who lived at 705 Brighton Road. In addition, two coachmen lived in the stable at the rear of the property. In the early twentieth century, the Willock family moved their primary residence from 705 Brighton Road to Gladmore Farm in Sewickley Heights. The family had a house in Lakewood, New Jersey, and later maintained homes in Manhattan and in Syosset, Long Island. At some point in or before the late 1910s, the Willocks began to use 705 Brighton Road as a single-family rental property. The house became a rooming house in the 1920s. It remained a rooming house throughout the Willock ownership of the property, which ended in 1944.
Detailed information on the history of 705 Brighton Road is contained in the following report.
- June 11, 1858
- October 7, 1867
- February 16, 1882
- May 29, 1889
- January 20, 1891
- May 29, 1894
- May 30, 1939
- August 16, 1944
- May 12, 1953
- August 1, 1956
- July 20, 1970
- October 29, 1980
- November 15, 1983
John and Abigail Irwin of Allegheny City conveyed property that included the present site of 705 Brighton Road to Samuel P. Shriver of Allegheny City for $5250. The property that was conveyed was located at the northwestern corner of Ridge Avenue and Brighton Road (then Irwin Avenue). The property measured 75′ wide along Brighton Road by 198′ deep along Ridge Avenue to Rope Way. It was known as Lots 1, 2, and 3 in John Irwin’s Rope Walk Plan.
(Deed Book Volume 139, Page 366)
Samuel P. and Rachel D. Shriver of Allegheny City conveyed the present site of 705 Brighton Road to Thomas Dawson of Allegheny City for $8000. The lot that was conveyed measured 25′ wide along Brighton Road by 198′ deep to Rope Way. The lot was known as Lot 3 in John Irwin’s Rope Walk Plan.
(DBV 224 P 245)
Thomas and Eliza Dawson of the borough of West Bellevue conveyed the present site of 705 Brighton Road to Mrs. Nettie McKee Graham of Allegheny City for $16,000. The lot that was conveyed measured 25′ wide along Brighton Road by 198′ deep to Rope Way. The lot contained an earlier house that occupied part of the present site of 705 Brighton Road.
(DBV 441 P 13)
James C. and Nettie McKee Graham of Allegheny County conveyed title to the present site of 705 Brighton Road to the Fidelity Title and Trust Company and Christopher L. Magee, as trustees. The lot that was conveyed measured 25′ wide along Brighton Road by 198′ deep to Rope Way. The lot contained an earlier house that occupied part of the present site of 705 Brighton Road.
(DBV 646 P 470)
The Fidelity Title and Trust Company and Christopher L. Magee, as trustees for Nettie McKee Graham, widow, of Allegheny City, conveyed the present site of 705 Brighton Road to Benjamin F. Jones of Allegheny City for $23,500. This deed and subsequent deeds conveyed an irregularly shaped lot that consisted of all of Lot 3 and part of Lot 2 in John Irwin’s Rope Walk Plan. The lot was described as beginning on the western side of Irwin Avenue (now Brighton Road), 50′ north of Ridge Avenue, and running west 40.35′; south toward Ridge Avenue 4.33″; west along a line almost parallel with Ridge Avenue, 95.5′; north 4.75″; west along a line parallel with Ridge Avenue 62.60′ to Rope Way; north 25′ along Rope Way; east, along a line parallel with Ridge Avenue, 198′ to Brighton Road; and south along Brighton Road 25′ to the place of beginning. The lot contained an earlier house that occupied part of the present site of 705 Brighton Road.
(DBV 728 P 504)
Benjamin F. and Mary McM. Jones of Allegheny City conveyed 705 Brighton Road (then known as 45 Irwin Avenue) to Alice Jones Willock, their daughter, of Allegheny City, for $1.
(DBV 883 P 2)
Alice Jones Willock died on May 30, 1939. In her will she left her residuary estate to William W. Willock, her husband, and William W. Willock Jr., Dickson C. Shaw Jr. and the Union National Bank, as executors and trustees. William W. Willock predeceased Alice Jones Willock on March 8, 1939. William W. Willock Jr. renounced his right to act as executor and trustee, leaving Dickson C. Shaw Jr. and the Union National Bank as executors and trustees.
Dickson C. Shaw Jr. and the Union National Bank of Pittsburgh, executors and trustees under the will of Alice Jones Willock, conveyed 705 Brighton Road to Annie L. Brooks of Pittsburgh for $10,000.
(DBV 2804 P 522)
Annie L. Brooks died on May 12, 1953. She left all of her estate to Gloria Colleen Brooks.
Gloria Colleen Brooks (also known as Gloria Brooks Compliment, also known as Gloria Brooks Murray) and her husband, William Compliment (also known as William Murray) conveyed 705 Brighton Road to Muriel Brooks Jennings of Pittsburgh for $1.
(DBV 3639 P 205)
Muriel Brooks Jennings of Pittsburgh conveyed partinterest in 705 Brighton Road to Charles Brooks Jennings of Pittsburgh for $1.
(DBV 4858 P 369)
Charles Brooks and Nancy S. Jennings of Allegheny County conveyed the interest of Charles Brooks Jennings in 705 Brighton Road to Muriel Brooks Jennings for $1.
(DBV 6316 P 31)
Muriel Brooks Jennings of Allegheny County conveyed 705 Brighton Road to James V. Costa of Allegheny County for $51,800.
(DBV 6768 P 580)
Age of the House
B.F. Jones commissioned construction of 705 Brighton Road for his daughter and son-in-law, Alice Jones Willock and William W. Willock, in 1892 or 1893.
Plat maps of the area around 705 Brighton Road published in 1872 and 1890, and an 1884 fire insurance map, show that 705 Brighton Road had not yet been built. These maps show that an earlier house occupied the site of 705 Brighton Road. The earlier house had a smaller footprint than the present house on the property and was set back approximately 50′ from Brighton Road.
B.F. Jones, a Pittsburgh iron and steel manufacturer, purchased the property for $23,500 on January 20, 1891. The purchase price appears consistent with the size of the earlier house on the property.
An 1893 fire insurance map shows that 705 Brighton Road had been built. The 1893 Pittsburgh directory listed William W. Willock as living at 45 Irwin Avenue (now 705 Brighton Road) for the first time. William W. and Alice Jones Willock had previously lived with the Jones family at the northwest corner of Brighton Road and North Lincoln Avenue.
Allegheny City building permit dockets are available beginning in 1894, and therefore contain no information on construction of 705 Brighton Road.
The Architect: William Ross Proctor
B.F. Jones hired William Ross Proctor to design 705 Brighton Road. Proctor was a New York City native who married Elizabeth Singer, a member of a prominent Pittsburgh family who lived on Western Avenue in Allegheny West. In 1892, Proctor’s office was on Sixth Avenue in Downtown Pittsburgh. He and Elizabeth Singer Proctor lived at Western and Allegheny Avenues in Allegheny West.
The Contractor: A & S Wilson
B.F. Jones hired the firm of A&S Wilson to construct the carriage house at 705 Brighton Road. A&S Wilson was one of the most prominent contracting firms in Pittsburgh between the 1880s and the 1920s, and built houses for a number of families who were prominent in social and manufacturing circles.
Proctor designed 705 Brighton Road in the Chateauesque style. Architectural features of the house that are representative of the Chateauesque style include the house’s large size and masonry construction; its fairly steep roof; its complex roofline, with multiple dormers and chimneys, finials at roof crests and dormer peaks; and the round corner tower with a conical roof.
The Chateauesque style was used in the United States, particularly in the northeast and midwest, in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.
The style was generally limited to large houses built for wealthy families, and was therefore used much less frequently than contemporaneous styles such as Queen Anne and Colonial Revival. The best-known Chateauesque house in western Pennsylvania is probably Clayton at Penn and Homewood Avenues in Point Breeze, created in 1891-1892 for Henry Clay Frick as a remodeling and expansion of a smaller house.
Allegheny City building permit dockets show that on August 11, 1898, William W. Willock received a permit for construction of a three-story brick stable at what was then 45 Irwin Avenue. The building was to measure 25′ wide by 40′ deep. The 1900 census enumerated two coachmen living at 705 Rope Way. A 1906 fire insurance map also confirms that the stable had been built.
Comparable Construction Cost
The estimated construction cost of the stable at 705 Brighton Road was $4500. Costs of other buildings constructed in Allegheny City within a few years of 1898 included:
- 4017 Northminster Street, Brighton Heights, $3200 (1895)
- 3504 Perrysville Avenue, Observatory Hill, $3650 (1897)
- 1235 Page Street, Manchester, $5000 (1898)
- 1623 Rhine Street, Spring Hill, $5000 (1897)
- 930 W North Avenue, Allegheny West, $5317 (1895)<
- 2014 Osgood Street, Fineview, $5400 (1894)
- 3344 Perrysville Avenue, Observatory Hill, $8400 (1896)
- 940 W North Avenue, Allegheny West, $10,000 (1895)
- 920 N Lincoln Avenue, Allegheny West, $35,500 (1903)
- The Byers-Lyons House at 901 Ridge Avenue, $80,000 (1898)
The Home Today
Photos by Sara Sweeney and Nick Smerker
William W. and Alice Jones Willock owned 705 Brighton Road between 1894 and 1944. Pittsburgh city directories, U.S. census records, biographical materials and obituaries provide information on William W. and Alice Jones Willock.
The 1900 Census
The 1900 census was the first census of population taken following construction of 705 Brighton Road. The census enumerated William Willock, 37, as a railroad manager. Alice Jones Willock, 33, had no occupation. Franklin Jones Willock, nine, attended school.
In 1900, according to census records, the Willock family employed five household staff persons who lived at 705 Brighton Road. They were:
- Juliane W. Ficke, 37, a cook. She was born in Norway to parents born in Germany and
Norway, and came to the United States in 1890
- James W. Neale, 40, a butler. He had immigrated from England in 1899
- Marie Carney, 23, a laundress who had come to the United States from Ireland in 1897
- Winnie McBride, 18, a chambermaid. She was born in Ireland, and immigrated in 1897
- Hannah Hastings, 30, a nurse, born in West Virginia to parents born in West Virginia and
The family also employed two coachmen who lived in their recently constructed stable along Rope Way, at the rear of the property. Frank Lamb, 34, was the older of the coachmen. He had been born in Scotland, and came to the United States in 1880. John Biggins, 27, had been born in Ohio to immigrants from England.
The 1910 Census
The 1910 census did not enumerate any residents of 705 Brighton Road, suggesting the possibility that the Willock family then used the house as a secondary residence.
The 1920 Census
In 1920, according to census records, 705 Brighton Road was rented to attorney Charles Forsyth Patterson and his family.
Charles F. Patterson, 46, had been born in New Jersey to parents born in Ohio and Pennsylvania. His wife, Elizabeth L., 36, had been born in Maryland. Her parents were born in New York State and Ohio.
The Pattersons had a daughter and son who lived at 705 Brighton Road in 1920. They were Forsyth, 16, and Charles L., 14.
Two servants lived with the Patterson family at 705 Brighton Road. They were Loretta Kenney, 26, who had immigrated from Ireland in 1913, and Jean Evans, 36, who had come to the United States from England in 1912. Both were single.
Pittsburgh directories indicate that Charles F. Patterson and his family lived at 705 Brighton Road between approximately 1919 and 1923. Patterson’s law office was on the eighth floor of the Frick Building Annex, Downtown, during that time. In about 1923, the Patterson family moved to Sewickley.
Residential development of Allegheny West began by the middle of the nineteenth century. An 1852 map shows that a number of houses stood on both sides of present Western Avenue between Brighton Road and Allegheny Avenue. A few buildings had been constructed along Brighton Road between Ridge and Western Avenues, on what was then the grounds of the Rope Walk.
This report was based on the original 2001 research by Carol Peterson. It was enhanced with additional research in 2014 by Pfaffmann + Associates. Their full report is available as a PDF download.
A Researched History
By: Carol J. Peterson