Historic Penn Hills homes to take center stage on tour
Christine DeCarolis of Penn Hills has been on house tours up and down the East Coast, from Florida to Rhode Island.
“It was kind of my hobby for a while,” she said.
It makes sense, then, that she would be the prime mover organizing the Penn Hills Community Development Corporation's Sept. 14 house and garden tour of the municipality.
“When I started getting back into real estate in 2009 and saw how some of the neighborhoods like Bloomfield, East Liberty and Lawrenceville were turning around, I thought it would be nice to show people how our neighborhoods are changing,” she said.
DeCarolis said Penn Hills “gets a bad rap,” but once she began talking with owners of homes that could be suitable for the tour, she was unduly impressed.
“I've been quite blown away by some of the houses I've seen,” she said. “I think our slogan should be, ‘There's a lot more to Penn Hills than Frankstown Road and the Penn Hills Center (shopping plaza).'”
DeCarolis drove around the municipality, seeking out interesting properties or places with a connection to Penn Hills history.
Sarah Wilson has one such home, built in the 1820s. The house includes some wood from the original log cabin that Thomas Wilson, an early resident of Penn Hills, built on the property in the 1700s.
“I have two acres of the last piece of property we owned, which ran from Coal Hollow Road to Lime Hollow Road and just across Frankstown,” Wilson said.“'Bucolic' is the only word that comes to mind. It's two acres, flat and grassy, and we have a nice garden growing. You sort of feel like you step back in time when you come up here, even though it's right in the middle of everything.”
Another stop on the tour is Jim Beck's home on Datura Drive, built in 1938. Beck also is a member of the Penn Hills Community Development Corporation and serves on its housing committee.
“It was one of the first three houses on my street, built by a prominent local builder, Ralph Scherger,” Beck said, adding he looks forward to the house tour.
“When I look over our efforts in the CDC to sort of recast Penn Hills in people's minds, I think the housing committee holds our real power in terms of being a key to our renaissance here,” he said.
“I think since the mortgage crisis, people are going to welcome the security of knowing they're buying houses they can afford. I think it's going to position us to have an influx of buyers, and the house tour sort of dovetails right into that.”
Joan Greco will invite tour participants into her 1930s-built Cape Cod-style home on Moore Avenue, which she describes as “an artistic little place.
“I've not just gone into Ethan Allen and bought a whole set of furniture,” she said.
DeCarolis said the tour will be self-guided.
“People can start on House No. 1 or House No. 10, it doesn't matter,” she said. “Having been on so many house tours — and especially because Penn Hills is so big and spread out — this is probably the best way to do it.”
Beck said that unlike some house tours, which showcase massive mansions that tour-takers couldn't possibly hope to buy, “we're showing them houses that a lot of homebuyers can afford.”
“I'm just surprised and blown away by some of the houses I've seen, and if we have good weather, there are some really fantastic gardens people will also be able to see,” she said.
The tour will take place from 11:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tickets are $10 in advance, and are available by calling 412-275-0014 or emailing email@example.com.
Patrick Varine is an editor for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7845 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Penn Hills art classes provide unique, fun opportunities for seniors
- Crime report: Burglaries down, violent crime up in Penn Hills
- Penn Hills’ Shop Local event deemed successful