125 First Avenue: A Historical Landmark

Jeanne Lofgren Stonecipher

125 First Avenue is a three-story yellow brick and stone masonry structure with a flat roof that occupies the entire lot of ground at the northeast corner of First Avenue and Chancery Way.  Over the doorway, is a raised circular medallion on which the letters “A”, “B”, and “C” interlock.

125 First Avenue is the home of Stonecipher Law Firm.  It is located in the earliest-settled section of the city of Pittsburgh.  Following the Great Fire of 1845, the building was re-erected and eventually purchased by A. Guckenheimer & Brothers, a wholesale liquor dealer and whiskey distillery that had been in existence on Market Street since 1858.  The company produced “Copper Distilled Pure Whiskies”, including the “world-renowned ‘Guckenheimer’s Pure Rye Whiskies'”.  The Guckenheimer plant was located in Freeport, Armstrong County.  Its office and warehouse was located where Stonecipher sits today.

Since the prohibition, 125 First Avenue changed owners and purposes a handful of times.  In 1980, Paddington Associates purchased the building and converted it for use as law firm offices.  In March 1995, led by the efforts of Melinda Beard, 125 First Avenue was designated a historic landmark with a finding that “this building is among the best of the handful of surviving structures in the Market Street / Monongahela Wharf commercial district from the mid-nineteenth century” and an “excellent example of the use of Richardsonian Romanesque architectural style, and of heavy timber construction, in a commercial building.”  The exposed brick, high ceilings, and massive wood beams throughout the building dating back circa 1860 make 125 First Avenue one-of-a-kind.