pittsburghmagazine.com | OCTOBER 2014 | 29 PHOTOS BY RENEE ROSENSTEEL (HOW’S WORK?) & JOHN ALTDORFER (MOLYNEAUX)
Google Just Walked in the Front Door
We live in a golden age of pre-screening. Before you try a new restaurant, you can hop online to scope out the menu, check for specials, read reviews
. . . and, thanks to a new feature on Google Maps, even stroll through the joint from your desk. Google Business View offers 360-degree interior
tours of restaurants, shops and other businesses; think of it as an indoor version of the popular “Street View” feature. Chris Vendilli, founder of local
Internet marketing firm ProFromGo, is a certified photographer with Google; places that want to be featured on Business View will be referred
to Vendilli or another certified photographer who will arrive with specialized equipment to capture the images. “A lot of businesses want to do a
reshoot every year or two,” as interiors change, Vendilli says. To see the technology in action, search for one of the ’Burgh businesses ProFromGo has
shot — including Molyneaux Tile & Floor’s showrooms (left), Seviche and ESSpa Kozmetika. — Sean Collier
Job: House Historian
What does a house historian do? People hire me to research the
history of their houses — when [the houses] were built and whom
they were built for, who were the original families in their houses.
[Former residents] give context to the building, you know — socioeconomically, ethnically and so forth.
How do you establish a house history? I go downtown to the
Allegheny County Real Estate Department. I look at the deeds, and
then I go different places around the city and look at building permit
records and old maps. I look at the architectural features of the house
itself. And as far as finding out about the people who lived there, I
look at old city directories, census records, obituaries, biographies . . .
and kind of put it all together.
So you’re a detective? That’s pretty much what I’m doing.
What is the weirdest house history you’ve ever come
across? There was a house I researched a bunch of years ago . . .
Nice house. The first owner was a man who was a pretty well-known
patent attorney. He lived with his mother and his wife and kids, and
then he suddenly died one day. And it became known that he had
another wife and kids [in another neighborhood]. The wives were
fighting over who was really his wife and who could go to the funeral
. . . It was all over the front page. That was just the wildest story I’d
That’d make front-page headlines today, too. There was
another one [in the early 1900s] — a house in Squirrel Hill . . . They
had a son who was in his early 20s. I ended up finding out he was
arrested in New York City for possession of cocaine and hitting a
police officer. It didn’t make the Pittsburgh papers that I could tell . . .
but it did make the New York papers, so there’s a record on it. It’s like
Charlie Sheen or something, just in old-fashioned clothes.
Why are house histories important? Everybody knows
about the captains of industry, the Carnegies and the Fricks and the
Mellons. But people don’t know about the middle-class or working-class people. It’s important to document that because it would be lost
otherwise . . . It’s better for our culture to know what came before.
It’s about ethnic history, African-American history, steelworkers,
shopkeepers — the people who collectively make things what they
are. — Margaret J. Krauss
How’s Work? is a series offering interviews
with ’Burghers who hold unusual jobs.
Former heavyweight boxing champion Mike
Tyson taking in a show at the Pittsburgh