Eichleay Engineering Corporation Records and Photographs

What’s online?

The Eichleay Engineering Corporation online photograph collection contains images dating from 1892 through 1970. The images primarily document Eichleay’s role in moving residences, businesses, and other large structures and objects.

What’s in the entire collection?

The Eichleay Engineering Corporation Records and Photographs document the company’s business operations primarily through images that depict house raising and moving, structural engineering, industrial construction, and mechanical installation. Six ledger books contain board of managers, stockholders, and directors meeting minutes from 1903 through 1936. There is a series of promotional materials, including a selection of advertising copy for Eichleay services between the 1930s and 1960s. Throughout the collection are newspapers and magazine clippings documenting company moves and operations, as well as individual projects.

About the Eichleay Engineering Corporation

The John Eichleay Jr. Company, incorporated in 1902, performed the raising, moving, shoring, and underpinning of houses and buildings. Prior to the development of hydraulic jacks, structures were raised using acme threaded screw jacks turned in unison by a team of men signaled by a foreman. Once the structures were jacked to the necessary height they were repositioned using rails and rollers, movement that rarely was detectable by those inside the building. The more spectacular moves garnered the company increased business, as well as attention from the public and the press. In 1903, the company raised the home of Captain Samuel S. Brown from the banks of the Monongahela River 160 feet up a cliff side. In 1915, the company moved Bethlehem Steel President Charles Schwab’s house 1,500 feet over tree tops to a new location on his estate.

In addition to moving structures, the John Eichleay Jr. Company began fabricating structural steel for shoring and underpinning heavier structures, as well as stockpiling supplies and equipment for erecting new industrial buildings. They opened a yard on the South Side on Wharton Street, which was largely expanded by 1905. The company also managed real estate interests, a boat and barge enterprise, and leased their machinery and equipment.

As was the case throughout most of the country, World War II served as an economic and manufacturing catalyst for the Eichleay Engineering Corporation. Business emphasis shifted from structural moving to industrial and mechanical expansion of manufacturing plants involved in war-time production. Eichleay also innovated blast furnace construction and installation methods that reduced the amount of time the furnace had to be out of service. Such design, engineering, construction, and mechanical installation services led to direct contracting with major Pittsburgh manufacturers after the war as the company transitioned from house and commercial moving to general construction and contracting in the second half of the 20th century.


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