Creepy oddities abundant inside Swissvale's Trundle Manor
They’re in love with each other — and dead things.
Pittsburgh natives Rachel and Anton Miriello, known as Mr. Arm and Velda Von Minx, are artists living in Trundle Manor, their 100-plus-year-old Swissvale home that doubles as a museum, chock full of thousands of creepy oddities .
Step inside the foyer and get ready for an oddity sensory overload. The museum is filled with mostly dead animals. Look for “Princess Fox,” complete with a dainty pink bow, the oldest taxidermy item displayed, dating to the 1890s.
There’s also an illuminated large tumor displayed in a jar that sings.
“This is one of our very favorite items of all, Olivia’s singing tumor,” Von Minx said while lifting a covering to reveal a large tumor inside a jar, donated by Olivia, a local belly dancer. “Mr. Arm built a custom display. Olivia even comes to visit it every now and then.”
Tourists visiting Trundle Manor can expect to explore three rooms on the first floor. The couple reside upstairs, and that section of the home isn’t included on the tour.
“It’s like Addams Family, but with a twist,” said Von Minx. “We have a lot of old medical tools, weaponry, organs, sideshow circus things, vintage and current taxidermy, animals and specimens in jars. It’s all the private collection of myself and Mr. Arm.”
Billed as “The most unusual tourist trap in the world,” Trundle Manor promises something different, Mr. Arm said.
“I’ve been collecting since I was a little kid. I jarred my first specimen (baby frogs) from my pond. This is an artist’s residence for us,” Mr. Arm said.
Donation-based tours available to all ages are offered year-round, by appointment only. Summer is their busiest season, with tourists visiting from as far away as London.
“I enjoy tourist traps,” Mr. Arm said. “It’s more fun to show it off than to keep it to ourselves.”
A donation of some sort is a tour requirement. Visitors may choose to give cash (the average is $20), booze (rum please) or an “odd item” such as the large mounted taxidermy Spanish ram that was recently donated.
The couple emphasizes the appointment part.
“We have people show up at our door,” Von Minx said.
Inspired by their enthusiastic obsession with The Addams Family, the Miriellos live a “ghoulish, elegant and fun” lifestyle. Both have art-related degrees, and the couple are avid amateur taxidermists.
“This is more of a lifestyle for us,” Mr. Arm said. “We always have a very eclectic, all-walks-of-life type of people coming for a tour. Kids love us.”
A treasured Trundle Manor oddity served as their wedding cake topper — two stuffed squirrels decked out in wedding day finery.
“Our first date, we did taxidermy together in the basement — making our two bride and groom squirrels,” Von Minx said.
Mr. Arm proposed in a nearby cemetery, even attaching the engagement ring to Von Minx onto “groom squirrel.”
More than 5,000 tourists from more than 40 states have visited the manor.
Von Minx serves as mistress of the manor, hosting the majority of the tours, and she encourages questions — especially from kids.
“They get into it,” she said.
Trundle Manor was featured on “MTV’s Extreme Cribs” in 2011.
Trundle Manor is taking its museum on the road, with a Traveling Creepshow, staffed by Trundle Manor members and offering a circus-freakshow themed vibe with a variety of bizarre beasts and collectibles under a circus tent.
“It’s time to freak out the locals,” Mr. Arm wrote on the museum website.
Trundle Manor Traveling Creepshow
Sept. 22: 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Hill-Con Paranormal Convention
Hill View Manor
2801 Ellwood Road
To Book A Tour:
By Appointment Only (a day or more in advance please)
7724 Juniata St.
Joyce Hanz is a Tribune-Review contributing writer.