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Beautiful decorations adorn homes on annual holiday tours

Shirley McMarlin
| Friday, Dec. 9, 2016, 10:09 a.m.
Willock House
Greg Coll
Willock House
Willock House
Greg Coll
Willock House
On of the Mt. Pleasant Historical Society's log homes
Mt. Pleasant Historical Society
On of the Mt. Pleasant Historical Society's log homes

The Mt. Pleasant Historical Society has changed the name of its annual holiday home tour to more accurately reflect the scope of the event.

The rebranded Holiday Town Tour is scheduled for 2 to 8 p.m. Dec. 10 and will include not only private homes in Mt. Pleasant but also a church and one of the society's historic log houses.

Visitors to the log house on Washington Street will be able to view several restored mechanical Christmas displays made by local engineer Barry Premoshis in the 1950s.

“Those who grew up here likely recall seeing the Premoshis display, which was far ahead of its time,” says co-chairwoman Cindy Stevenson. “The ‘Organ Lady' and ‘Santa's Workshop' have been restored and (are) ready to be enjoyed by a whole new generation.

“There are two returning favorites on this year's program, a colorful Victorian on Main Street and the McAdams mansion on Braddock Road Avenue,” she adds.

The tour also will feature a mansion on Oak Hill, the former home of owners of the Bryce glass company, whose leaded glass is now highly collectible.

Stevenson says the tour's afternoon and evening hours will allow participants “to enjoy the tour either in daylight or to enjoy the venues after dark, when Christmas lights add to the experience.”

Cost is $15, or free to children 12 and under when accompanied by an adult.

Advance tickets are available in Mt. Pleasant at Coke's Barber Shop and Abbey's Hallmark. On tour day, tickets and a basket raffle will be available at the log house site.

Details: 724-547-9115 or mphistory.com

Old Allegheny Victorian Christmas House Tour

Each of six dwellings on the 35th annual Old Allegheny Victorian Christmas House Tour promises to be a showstopper, says tour chairwoman Carrie Doyle.

“They're all beautiful old Victorian homes,” she says of featured sites in the Allegheny West Historic District on Pittsburgh's North Side. “Some do the old-fashioned, over-the-top decorating; but all have their own personal flair.”

Visitors can expect to see towering trees and mantels, staircases and chandeliers elaborately adorned with fresh greens.

New to this year's tour, set for Dec. 9 and 10, is the Willock House at 705 Brighton Road, overlooking Allegheny Park Commons West.

Built in 1891 by Benjamin Franklin Jones of Jones & Laughlin Steel for his daughter and son-in-law, the Chateauesque structure was abandoned during the 1970s and gutted of many of its significant features in the following decades. Saved from demolition by new owners in 2004, the home has undergone comprehensive and historically sensitive renovations of both its interior and exterior.

Tourgoers also will have the rare pleasure of viewing one of the world's largest toy train museums. Holmes Hall homeowner John DeSantis welcomes the public to his private collection once a year during the tour, Doyle says.

Sponsored by the Allegheny West Civic Council, the tours will be scheduled at 12-minute intervals from 5 to 8 p.m. Dec. 9 and 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Dec. 10.

All tours will originate from Calvary United Methodist Church, at the corner of Allegheny and Beech avenues.

The church is noted for its collection of 189 stained glass windows, for which the congregation commissioned Louis Comfort Tiffany in 1892. Installed in 1895, the windows employ Tiffany's drapery glass technique which gives them a layered effect.

A tour ticket is $35. A separate ticket for the model train exhibit is $15. Reservations are required.

Free parking is available on neighborhood streets and in select lots at the nearby Community College of Allegheny County.

Details: 888-718-4253 or alleghenywest.org

Shirley McMarlin is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach her at 724-836-5750 or smcmarlin@tribweb.com.

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