Lower Burrell couple heartbroken to sell house that Elvis built
By Tom Yerace
Published: Saturday, Feb. 2, 2013, 12:51 a.m.
Mickey DePellegrin's house doesn't sit at the end of Lonely Street, but it's sort of become “Heartbreak Hotel” for him.
DePellegrin, 58, of Lower Burrell is known by most Lower Burrell residents and a lot of people throughout the Alle-Kiski Valley as “that guy who looks like Elvis.”
A loyal fan since 1968 of the iconic “King of Rock 'n' Roll,” Elvis Presley, he cultivated the Elvis look with the rising wave hairstyle. He even performed as an Elvis lookalike.
But even if they don't know him, they probably know his white Cape Cod house.
It sits just below the Route 56 bypass not far from the intersection with Leechburg Road in Lower Burrell.
It's the one with “Elvis” spelled out in pink shingles on the roof. He and his wife, Brenda, have lived there for 38 years but have decided to sell it.
“I love it here,” DePellegrin said. “I love this house. We're both going to be sad to leave it.”
“There's a lot of memories here,” he said. “Thirty-eight years is a long time to live here.”
The DePellegrins are selling it because both of them have encountered health problems that makes home ownership difficult, especially since the house is on a sloping lot.
He said Brenda had a stroke after they returned from a trip out West last year and some other problems.
“My wife has become ill, and she is losing her balance a lot,” DePellegrin said.
He has problems with his feet and ankles.
“My feet are getting bad,” DePellegrin said. “The right foot I broke in a coal mine back in 1978, and they didn't set it right. I can't bend my ankle much.”
He said he has arthritis in both ankles and has to wear braces on both.
Those problems resulted in him retiring on disability from his last occupation, a baker who worked at Shop 'n Save, now Community Market, in Lower Burrell and Giant Eagle in Buffalo Township.
“I can't cut the grass, I can't plant flowers any more,” DePellegrin said, the sadness evident in his voice. “I can't really do anything because of the incline of the hill.”
They are planning to move into an apartment once they sell the house.
His real estate agent, Carol Lipanot, said, “Everybody knows the house. As soon as I say ‘the house with Elvis on the roof,' everyone knows where it's at.”
“Of course, he is heartbroken that he has to sell the house after 38 years,” she said.
“You don't spell out ‘Elvis' on the roof unless you're planning to die there.”
She said if the three-quarter-acre lot the house is on were not sloped, the DePellegrins wouldn't be selling it.
The house has an eat-in kitchen, dining room, living room, two bedrooms and a bath and was put on the market about 10 days ago for $52,000, she said.
Lipanot hopes the house's status as an unofficial landmark will attract interest from prospective home buyers.
“I know this house is a landmark,” DePellegrin said. “Every time the steel trucks pass by, the drivers tell me they say, ‘We're passing Graceland.' ”
DePellegrin's house once had a monument out front, a large rock that said “Always Elvis” and “TCB,” a reference to Elvis' motto “taking care of business in a flash,” along with his date of birth and the date he died. It had to be taken out because it began to lean.
“That rock weighed 4,000 pounds,” DePellegrin said. “It actually needed re-cemented in there but, again, I can't take care of it.”
The house is not the only thing for sale.
DePellegrin said he is selling off much of his extensive collection of Elvis memorabilia, which has occupied one of the bedrooms in his house.
“I'm saving my 45s and my LPs — all the good ones he made back in the 1970s.” “I'm not selling my CDs either; there's a lot of rare ones with outtakes. You can only get them at Graceland.”
The items he is selling include his collection of plates and numerous Elvis photographs as well as Elvis-themed games and a hooked rug.
DePellegrin said he actually stopped collecting Elvis memorabilia about four years ago. A born-again Christian, he decided that he shouldn't idolize anyone other than God.
Yet he fondly recalls seeing Elvis perform three times, the last time in Pittsburgh on New Year's Eve in 1976.
Presley died of a drug overdose on Aug. 16, 1977.
DePellegrin also has vivid memories of the times he impersonated the “King.”
“I drew 3,500 people at Hill Crest Shopping Center when I performed,” he said. “I did all the moves and I lip-synced the music.
“It was totally awesome.”
Tom Yerace is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-226-4675 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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