Linda Alworth restoring old Leechburg area properties one at a time
Linda Alworth can’t resist old properties.
Alworth of Gilpin has restored five Leechburg area historic properties and her latest project involves a 1843 farmhouse located in Allegheny Township, known by locals as the Schumaker house.
Previous Leechburg area restoration projects completed by Alworth include several of her businesses: Lingrow Farm (formerly the old Gourley Farm in Gilpin); Twisted Thistle restaurant in Leechburg (formerly The Old National Hotel); 128 Market St. (formerly the Leechburg VFW) and one private residence, 758 Evergreen Road in Gilpin.
She purchased the Schumaker farm in 2016 and began restoring the Federal-style old homestead on 68 acres right away.
She spends hours operating her backhoe, excavating, digging and always having a vision. “I am always waking up at night thinking, ‘What can I do to make this house better?’ ”
Driving around and spotting old houses, she says she has to tell herself, “keep on driving” because her restoration urges always kick in.
Back to life
“I like to take something and bring it back to life,” she says. “This house sits on its original foundation. It’s got good bones.”
With more than 2,900 square feet of living space, Alworth kept original features such as fireplaces, mantles, hardware, floors and the front door during her two-plus year remodel project.
Locals asked her what the home looked like when she began remodeling. Alworth would tell them she felt the home was stuck in the 1930s and was depressed. “The home was waiting for me to update her bones,” she says.
A governer’s driveway and wide custom-stone staircase leading up to the newly constructed porch was added. “The porch was pretty damaged from the elements,” Alworth says.
Her favorite space in the home?
“I love the sitting room, the parlor, because when I go in there I feel like I am going back in time,” Alworth says.
From bat house to blue house
Purchased for $245,000, Alworth estimates she has spent close to $300,000 in renovations to the pre-Civil War home that the Schumaker descendants have called home since 1870.
Alworth doesn’t have much information on who occupied the farm before the Schumakers, but she pointed out a spot on the property near the springhouse that once had foundations and log cabins.
No stranger to renovation suprises, Alworth says her biggest challenge was the hundreds of bats that had taken up residence in the home’s third floor.
She had to hire professionals to turn the “bat house,” as she jokingly called it, into the “blue house,” which now refers to the historically accurate shade, called Van Deusen Blue, that Alworth selected for the exterior.
“I wanted a color that would look beautiful when the property is all white with snow during the winter,” she says.
Alworth is dedicated to helping improve the Leechburg area “one house at a time” she says and strives to “bring life back into the area.”
Alworth heard rumors that money was perhaps hidden underneath floorboards in the home and holes in the original floors where old-timers were known to stash money were lifted up during the restoration, but no cash was found.
The original outhouse was lost when an ember from a trash fire close by landed on it during renovations. Alworth was able to salvage the seat that had three holes to accomodate numerous outhouse visitors at once.
Alworth hails from a Washington Township farming childhood where she grew up surrounded by old barns, buildings and a strong work ethic. Money was scarce and for Alworth, college wasn’t an option. “I wanted to go to art school but my father didn’t believe that girls should go to college. The only thing he knew was hard work. As a kid I always helped him fix and clean. I did the work of a man.”
Alworth ran her own successful landscaping business before opening her destination wedding venue, Lingrow Farm more than a decade ago.
“I had a country upbringing. My dad always said if I worked hard in life then I would be a success,” Alworth says.
Alworth plans to list the four-bedroom, three-bathroom home for sale in a few months but has not settled on an asking price yet.
“I hope someone buys this home that will take care of it and love it like I do,” she says.
Joyce Hanz is a Tribune-Review contributing writer.