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Pittsburgh Symphony fundraiser visits 8 timeless homes

JoAnne Klimovich Harrop
| Thursday, Nov. 9, 2017, 8:55 p.m.

The arrangement of carnation-red hydrangeas as a centerpiece gives a burst of color to the ornately decorated dining room table set for 10.

Guests who visit the house will notice those fresh flowers — grown and nurtured in the homeowner's garden — throughout this home in Virginia Manor in Mt. Lebanon, all aglow for the Symphony Splendor Holiday Home Tour. The tour of eight art- and antique-laden homes in the neighborhood — all open for the first time — benefit the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra.

Adding to the yuletide spirit, musicians from the symphony will be entertaining in each home.

“This holiday fanfare tour, presented by the Pittsburgh Symphony Association, has become the gold standard event of the season,” says Cathy Trombetta, formerly of Mt. Lebanon who lives in Peters and is co-chairing the event with Diane Unkovic.

In its fourth year, the event has raised $240,000 for the Pittsburgh Symphony.

“I love the symphony,” says the homeowner, who requested her name not be used. “This is our way of showing appreciation for the symphony.”

Virginia Manor was developed in sections, and this house was built in 1942, during one of the last expansions. It has had two significant remodeling efforts in 1989 and 2012, as well as a new bathroom in 1984 — all designed by former Virginia Manor resident Richard Hayes of United Concepts.

“Richard is wonderful and made sure to think of every detail,” the homeowner says. “He understands how these houses were made because he lived here. He is remarkable.”

The formal dining area is just the beginning of a festively fashioned space. A few steps away is the living room, which is lit up by a Christmas tree with gold trimmings — one of many trees throughout the house from 6-feet-tall greens to glass mercury trees and mini-colorful trees. There is fresh holly and a wall display of red, yellow, green and silver ornaments, giving this area a burst of color.

As you enter the kitchen, you'll notice six sparkling holiday-themed teapots perched in the middle of the island — just a few from the homeowner's collection. The table and chairs are fashioned by artist Lyle Clevenger of Mt. Lebanon from an old oak tree in the family's yard.

Clevenger's masterpieces can be found throughout pretty much every room on the first floor, including a reindeer of copper and cherry wood adorning the kitchen wall. He also crafted a hand-carved wooden wizard who stands tall in the yard. He is wearing a red-and-white Santa hat.

“I thought the Santa hat would be fun,” the homeowner says.

In the den awaits the grandchildren's tree, which has lots of fun non-breakable ornaments made by the homeowner, who also fashions quilts, including the one with reindeer sitting on a nearby couch.

The tour welcomes 1,000 guests each year who walk or ride one of Molly's Trolleys to and from each stop. Docents will talk about the history of each home.

“It is so much fun because each home's decorations reflect the homeowner,” says Trombetta, of the tour which is 100 percent a volunteer effort. “I met with some of the homeowners and the docents and by the end of the meeting there was such a sense of camaraderie.

“Last year, I talked with guests about what they like and what they would like to have changed. One told me the tour was a kick off to her family's holiday season. Another said she enjoyed seeing the houses and getting tips for decorating her own home. To go inside these homes is like opening a package. I see awe in people's eyes. People love to see inside other people's homes. And we have such an amazing tour of houses this year — with beautiful decorations and a festive atmosphere.”

JoAnne Klimovich Harrop is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach her at 724-853-5062 or jharrop@tribweb.com or via Twitter @Jharrop_Trib.

The formal dining room of this home on Osage Road in Mt. Lebanon's Virginia Manor neighborhood is decorated for the holidays with poinsettia place settings, silver and a centerpiece made from hydrangeas from the homeowner's garden. The home will be a stop on this year's Pittsburgh Symphony Splendor Holiday Home Tour on Nov. 19.
Kristina Serafini | Tribune-Review
The formal dining room of this home on Osage Road in Mt. Lebanon's Virginia Manor neighborhood is decorated for the holidays with poinsettia place settings, silver and a centerpiece made from hydrangeas from the homeowner's garden. The home will be a stop on this year's Pittsburgh Symphony Splendor Holiday Home Tour on Nov. 19.
A silver tea set rest on a counter at a home along Osage Road in Mt. Lebanon's Virginia Manor neighborhood. The home is on this year's Pittsburgh Symphony Splendor Holiday Home Tour on Nov. 19.
Kristina Serafini | Tribune-Review
A silver tea set rest on a counter at a home along Osage Road in Mt. Lebanon's Virginia Manor neighborhood. The home is on this year's Pittsburgh Symphony Splendor Holiday Home Tour on Nov. 19.
Holiday tea kettles decorate a kitchen island at a home on Osage Road in Mt. Lebanon's Virginia Manor neighborhood. The home is part of this year's Pittsburgh Symphony Splendor Holiday Home Tour on Nov. 19.
Kristina Serafini | Tribune-Review
Holiday tea kettles decorate a kitchen island at a home on Osage Road in Mt. Lebanon's Virginia Manor neighborhood. The home is part of this year's Pittsburgh Symphony Splendor Holiday Home Tour on Nov. 19.
Hydrangeas from the homeowners' garden decorate the entrance of a home along Osage Road in Mt. Lebanon's Virginia Manor neighborhood. The home is a stop on this year's Pittsburgh Symphony Splendor Holiday Home Tour on Nov. 19.
Kristina Serafini | Tribune-Review
Hydrangeas from the homeowners' garden decorate the entrance of a home along Osage Road in Mt. Lebanon's Virginia Manor neighborhood. The home is a stop on this year's Pittsburgh Symphony Splendor Holiday Home Tour on Nov. 19.
A holiday quilt  made by the homeowner rests in the craft room of a home on Osage Road in Mt. Lebanon's Virginia Manor neighborhood. The home is a stop on this year's Pittsburgh Symphony Splendor Holiday Home Tour on Nov. 19.
Kristina Serafini | Tribune-Review
A holiday quilt made by the homeowner rests in the craft room of a home on Osage Road in Mt. Lebanon's Virginia Manor neighborhood. The home is a stop on this year's Pittsburgh Symphony Splendor Holiday Home Tour on Nov. 19.
A Christmas tree and quilt decorate a living room inside a home along Osage Road in Mt. Lebanon's Virginia Manor neighborhood. The home is a stop on this year's Pittsburgh Symphony Splendor Holiday Home Tour on Nov. 19.
Kristina Serafini | Tribune-Review
A Christmas tree and quilt decorate a living room inside a home along Osage Road in Mt. Lebanon's Virginia Manor neighborhood. The home is a stop on this year's Pittsburgh Symphony Splendor Holiday Home Tour on Nov. 19.
A view of a bathroom in a home on Osage Road in Mt. Lebanon's Virginia Manor neighborhood decorated for the holidays. The home is part of this year's Pittsburgh Symphony Splendor Holiday Home Tour on Nov. 19.
Kristina Serafini | Tribune-Review
A view of a bathroom in a home on Osage Road in Mt. Lebanon's Virginia Manor neighborhood decorated for the holidays. The home is part of this year's Pittsburgh Symphony Splendor Holiday Home Tour on Nov. 19.
A silver tea set is flanked by two trees at a home on Osage Road in Mt. Lebanon's Virginia Manor neighborhood. The home is a stop on the Pittsburgh Symphony Splendor Holiday Home Tour on Nov. 19.
Kristina Serafini | Tribune-Review
A silver tea set is flanked by two trees at a home on Osage Road in Mt. Lebanon's Virginia Manor neighborhood. The home is a stop on the Pittsburgh Symphony Splendor Holiday Home Tour on Nov. 19.
The back porch of this home on Osage Road in Mt. Lebanon's Virginia Manor neighborhood boasts a tree and garlands for the holidays.
Kristina Serafini | Tribune-Review
The back porch of this home on Osage Road in Mt. Lebanon's Virginia Manor neighborhood boasts a tree and garlands for the holidays.
A favorite ornament of the homeowner is hung on a Christmas tree in a living room of a home on Osage Road in Mt. Lebanon's Virginia Manor neighborhood. The home is a stop on this year's Pittsburgh Symphony Splendor Holiday Home Tour on Nov. 19.
Kristina Serafini | Tribune-Review
A favorite ornament of the homeowner is hung on a Christmas tree in a living room of a home on Osage Road in Mt. Lebanon's Virginia Manor neighborhood. The home is a stop on this year's Pittsburgh Symphony Splendor Holiday Home Tour on Nov. 19.
A dining room is decorated for the holidays at a home on Osage Road in Mt. Lebanon's Virginia Manor neighborhood. The home is part of this year's Pittsburgh Symphony Splendor Holiday Home Tour on Nov. 19.
Kristina Serafini | Tribune-Review
A dining room is decorated for the holidays at a home on Osage Road in Mt. Lebanon's Virginia Manor neighborhood. The home is part of this year's Pittsburgh Symphony Splendor Holiday Home Tour on Nov. 19.
The back porch of this home on Osage Road in Mt. Lebanon's Virginia Manor neighborhood boasts holiday trimmings including garlands and large Christmas bulbs. The home is part of this year's Pittsburgh Symphony Splendor Holiday Home Tour on Nov. 19.
Kristina Serafini | Tribune-Review
The back porch of this home on Osage Road in Mt. Lebanon's Virginia Manor neighborhood boasts holiday trimmings including garlands and large Christmas bulbs. The home is part of this year's Pittsburgh Symphony Splendor Holiday Home Tour on Nov. 19.
A view of the formal living room of a home along Osage Road in Mt. Lebanon's Virginia Manor neighborhood decorated for the holidays. The home is a stop on the Pittsburgh Symphony Splendor Holiday Home Tour on Nov. 19.
Kristina Serafini | Tribune-Review
A view of the formal living room of a home along Osage Road in Mt. Lebanon's Virginia Manor neighborhood decorated for the holidays. The home is a stop on the Pittsburgh Symphony Splendor Holiday Home Tour on Nov. 19.
Trees made from mercury glass decorate a dining room at a home on Osage Road in Mt. Lebanon's Virginia Manor neighborhood. The home is part of this year's Pittsburgh Symphony Splendor Holiday Home Tour on Nov. 19.
Kristina Serafini | Tribune-Review
Trees made from mercury glass decorate a dining room at a home on Osage Road in Mt. Lebanon's Virginia Manor neighborhood. The home is part of this year's Pittsburgh Symphony Splendor Holiday Home Tour on Nov. 19.
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