History of Regent Square

This brief overview of the origins of Regent Square is taken from the book “Around the Square,” 1989 ed., published by the Regent Square Civic Association. It is available at adjacent libraries as well as at the Carnegie Library in Oakland and the Western Pennsylvania Historical Society library. Filled with historical maps, statistical and anecdotal information, pictures and entertaining comments about the Square and its residents past and present, it is highly recommended reading.

Regent Square, a collection of farm properties in the late 18th and early 19th centuries, began to emerge as a community in 1832, when Judge William Wilkins purchased a total of 650 acres in this area. After his death, James Hutchinson, the trustee of his estate, hired an engineer/architect to draw up plans for a subdivision. The Devon Plan, as the land was now called, was recorded in the Spring of 1872. By today’s geographical markers, it extended from Hutchinson to Forbes and from Richmond to Trenton. In a further expansion, William E. Harmon of Harmon Realty, having purchased a southern portion which included Trevanion, by 1919 acquired The Devon Plan and renamed it Regent Place, later changing it to Regent Square.

Significantly, in this same year, Henry Clay Frick willed to the City of Pittsburgh 150 acres near his home, Clayton. Now known as Frick Park and sited at the edge of Regent Square, it is one of the area’s defining characteristics. Through ongoing acquisitions, the park will have grown to 550 acres with the completed restoration of the Nine Mile Run watershed. It continues to enrich the lives of residents with its vast green spaces, trails, shelters, wildlife, flora and fauna.

Shaded by large trees that form a canopy on many brick-paved streets, Regent Square was and is home to Pittsburghers of varied incomes. George Westinghouse, it’s said, encouraged his executives to build here and some of the larger homes reflect this story. Hulley Homes, about which anecdotes also abound, were reportedly built for workers in the area, and the well-known architect, George Scheibler built several houses for residents here.

Reflecting this interesting architectural mix, the Civic Association has in the past held annual House Tours. Other events in the life of the Regent Square community continue to contribute to its ongoing appeal. The marathon Run Around the Square, the Easter egg hunt, the civic Halloween party, holiday house lights contest, Regent Square Flea Market, civic and social events and seminars – all are part of the fabric of life in the Square.

Recently, the Civic Association conducted a study of the South Braddock Avenue business corridor to determine solutions related to increased traffic, roadbed repair, parking and pedestrian safety. A mural depicting parts of Regent Square and Frick Park was another project recently completed and installed on a wall in the heart of the business district. Residents can be seen pointing out their homes and identifying birds indigenous to the area.

The Regent Square Civic Association is the sponsor of many of these events and the originator of grants that enhance our common life. Communicating to households every month through a newsletter and a website, each resident is invited to become a voice in the community and to share in its past and present … to be part of Regent Square.