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In life and death, eccentric Hampton couple makes beautiful music together

| Saturday, Dec. 5, 2015, 9:00 p.m.
Arthur and Alfreda Antignani. Undated family photo.
Stephanie Strasburg | Trib Total Media
A range of music-themed statues found at the home of the late Arthur and Alfreda Antignani in Hampton.
Stephanie Strasburg | Trib Total Media
A palm tree-shaped aquarium rises above the shag carpeting at the former home of the late Arthur and Alfreda Antignani during an estate sale of their belongings on Nov. 8 in Hampton. Described by those who knew them as very private in life, the couple left behind a trove of love letters to each another and a collection of belongings that stands as a tribute to their shared passion for music and each other.
Stephanie Strasburg | Trib Total Media
A box of love letters between the late Arthur and Alfreda Antignani at their former home in Hampton.
Stephanie Strasburg | Trib Total Media
The bedroom closet of the late Arthur and Alfreda Antignani in Hampton. Accented with mirrored furniture, the bedroom walls are wallpapered in shiny silver paper with red velvet designs overlaid.
Stephanie Strasburg | Trib Total Media
A pair of metallic high heels on the shag carpeting at the former home of the late Arthur and Alfreda Antignani in Hampton.
Stephanie Strasburg | Trib Total Media
A truck for sale at the estate of the late Arthur and Alfreda Antignani in Hampton.
Stephanie Strasburg | Trib Total Media
The fence around the mausoleum of the late Arthur and Alfreda Antignani features the music notes to Frank Sinatra's 'All The Way' at the Allegheny County Memorial Park in Allison Park. A recurring theme across the Antignanis' belongings, saxophone sculptures adorn the sides and roof of the mausoleum.
Stephanie Strasburg | Trib Total Media
Statues around the mausoleum of the late Arthur and Alfreda Antignani at the Allegheny County Memorial Park in Allison Park. Alfreda designed the mausoleum and had her husband's body moved to it. She then stopped taking treatment for her cancer and joined her husband in the mausoleum three months later.
Stephanie Strasburg | Trib Total Media
A photo of the late Arthur Antignani as a young man photographed in the bedroom of he and his wife, Alfreda, in Hampton. Arthur was born on July 9, 1926 and passed away on Saturday, June 4, 2011. Alfreda passed away three years later in 2014. The new owners of the property say this photo was found at the house next to a statue of the Virgin Mary and a container of holy water.
Stephanie Strasburg | Trib Total Media
An Elvis lamp sits out after an estate sale at the former home of the late Arthur and Alfreda Antignani in Hampton on Nov. 19.
Stephanie Strasburg | Trib Total Media
Saxophone statues, paintings, jewelry, cards, and pins are just some of the tributes to the instrument found at the home of the late Arthur and Alfreda Antignani in Hampton.
Stephanie Strasburg | Trib Total Media
A mural of Adam and Eve in the home of the late Arthur and Alfreda Antignani in Hampton.
Stephanie Strasburg | Trib Total Media
A mannequin in a cage in the yard of the late Arthur and Alfreda Antignani in Hampton.
Stephanie Strasburg | Trib Total Media
An aerial photo of the home of the late Arthur and Alfreda Antignani in Hampton. The photo shows a pool that is now filled in, as well as the guitar-shaped patio.
Stephanie Strasburg | Trib Total Media
A guitar-shaped patio holds statues that range from the religious to garden gnomes at the home of the late Arthur and Alfreda Antignani in Hampton.
Family photo of Arthur and Alfreda Antignani on their wedding day in 1959.
Undated family photo of Arthur and Alfreda Antignani
Undated photo provided by the family of Arthur and Alfreda Antignani.
Arthur and Alfreda Antignani
Arthur and Alfreda Antignani

When the love of her life died in 2011, Alfreda Antignani knew she wouldn't be far behind.

She also knew what to do with her final days. So she got to work.

“When he died, she had more money than she ever expected,” said Chuck McCourt, nephew and closest relative of Arthur and Alfreda Antignani. “I said, ‘Spend it on yourself.' A month and a half later, she comes to me with this gigantic bill, and I said, ‘What are you doing? What is this?' ”

Arthur and Alfreda Antignani married in 1959 and spent the following five-plus decades building a mostly private, entirely eccentric life together.

They bought a hilltop estate in Hampton. They built a home, closed the steel gates and retreated to their eight acres, called Skyvue Estate.

Arthur, a professional saxophonist, made wine with grapes from their vineyard. They played tennis on their private grass court and drank tea poolside, near the guitar-shaped patio. They filled their home with keepsakes that pleased their unusual tastes.

There was the leopard skin chair in the shape of a woman's high-heeled shoe. Black leather curtains. Hanging chains that doubled as window blinds.

A spiral staircase covered in red shag carpet led to a sprawling room on the second floor with wall-to-wall rainbow-colored shag carpet. Every doorknob was shaped like a music note. In the breakfast nook just off the second kitchen — yes, the second kitchen — a mural of Adam and Eve, her arm extended to the serpent, covered the wall. A bathroom a few feet away included black marble flooring, red carpet on the walls and ceiling, and a brightly colored, original painting on the inside of the bathroom door depicting a woman whose body appeared to be either melting or made of smoke.

The bar was fully stocked. The hollow trunk of a 6-foot plastic palm tree in the living room served as a tall aquarium. A Cadillac with custom-made music-note accelerator and brake pedals sat in the garage.

“That's just the way they were,” McCourt said. “They really didn't do a lot of traveling — they spent all their time up there at Skyvue. They loved it up there. They were one. Everything they did, they did together.”

They lived there together until Arthur died. He was 84.

Alfreda followed three years later on Oct. 28, 2014. She was 78.

McCourt, the executor of her will, put the estate up for sale, per his aunt's wish.

In her will, Alfreda asked that the house be demolished. Because it was their refuge, McCourt explained. It was just for them, and now they were gone.

When Skyvue Estate hit the market, Gale and Terry Colton took an immediate interest. When they toured the home, filled with peculiar belongings, they were sold.

“They grew up in the '60s and stayed there,” Terry Colton said.

They bought the estate and its contents for $335,000 in August. Then they opened the long mysterious, always private home to strangers during a three-day estate sale in the fall.

Framed paintings, multi-colored lamps and puzzling sculptures went out the door. A porcelain hippo sold, as did a large stuffed gorilla.

Nobody bought the mannequin in a steel cage.

The Coltons made $12,000 during the estate sale.

Two items, however, were not for sale: Arthur's saxophone and a box of love letters found in the master bedroom.

“To my one and only jazz artist,” Alfreda wrote in a birthday card. “May we always make beautiful music together.”

“Happy birthday with my everlasting love that will never die,” Arthur wrote in another, enclosing a flattened red rose between the pages.

The earliest note is one that Arthur sent in 1975. A music box affixed to the card still plays “Love Is a Many-Splendored Thing” when wound. Some letters are so old that the writing has faded. Many refer to their song: “All the Way,” performed by Frank Sinatra.

The sax and box of letters do not belong with strangers, Gale Colton said. They belong with Arthur and Alfreda.

And that's where they will go: Inside the mausoleum Alfreda built in her final years.

It's near the entrance of Allegheny County Memorial Park. It's impossible to overlook. The large, sculpted saxophones and music notes command visitors' attention.

“... She comes to me with this gigantic bill, and I said, ‘What are you doing? What is this?' ” McCourt recalled. “She said, ‘You told me to spend it on myself. Well, I'm spending it on me and Arthur.' ”

She paid “far more than most homes cost,” McCourt said. She saw to each detail, including the music notes from “All the Way” affixed to the gate. She wrote the words on the plaque:

MY

HEART BELONGS TO YOU

ARTHUR ANTIGNANI

AS WE STROLL HAND

IN HAND THRU THE

GOLDEN GATES

OF PARADISE

FOREVER AND EVER.

LOVE YOU

ALL THE WAY

52 YEARS

Alfreda

It took three years to construct. When the work was done, they moved Arthur's body from the main cemetery mausoleum to his final, private resting spot.

Alfreda waited until he was safely in place.

Then she returned to Skyvue Estate, and she stopped taking her cancer medications.

The time had come to rejoin her “one and only jazz artist.”

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