Millionaire’s Row: The History of 5945 Fifth Avenue

Fifth Avenue, now the main thoroughfare between Shadyside, Oakland, and Point Breeze, was once known by a different name: Millionaire’s Row. Home to Gilded Age Industrialists and synonymous with wealth, power, and social status, Fifth Avenue’s mansions were stunning reflections of their prestigious owners.

Today, only a precious few of Fifth Avenue’s historical homes remain. 5945 Fifth Avenue still stands today under the ownership of Franklin West.

The property’s original owner, J. M. Guffy, certainly fit in with his notable neighbors at the time. Guffy was a gas and oil tycoon with strong ties to Southwestern Pennsylvania. His company, J.M. Guffey Petroleum Co., eventually branched out to form Gulf Oil in 1907 — a millionaire, indeed.

While the original architect of 5945 Fifth Avenue is unknown, many original design elements are similar to the work of George S. Orth.

What began as an ornate, red brick Queen Anne Victorian mansion, stands today as a white stuccoed, Praire-style duplex. Franklin West selects and carefully restores buildings of historic value, ensuring their continued use as comfortable residences with architectural integrity.

While significantly altered, 5945 Fifth Avenue exists as one of the rare, few vestiges of Millionaire’s Row. This year marks its 134th birthday.

Research conducted by Frank Reichard, Wenfei Luo, and Justin Greenawalt for East Liberty Valley Historical Society, Inc.