‘Unique’ mansion in Pittsburgh’s East End listed for $4.9 million
A new residential listing in Pittsburgh’s East End has room to roam.
Known as the Kelly House, the Point Breeze residence at 1145 Beechwood Blvd. offers more than 14,000 square feet of living space. A stately brick home with Colonial Revival elements, it sits on 1.4 mature acres and features nine bedrooms and nine bathrooms.
The asking price is $4.9 million. That makes it the priciest residential listing in the East End, according to listing agent Nettie Mercer of Howard Hanna.
“We’ve shown the home three times within two weeks of its listing. This is unlike any other property in the East End right now,” Mercer said. “It’s very rare to have an estate of this caliber in the heart of the city.”
Mercer noted that real estate in the East End neighborhoods of Shadyside, Squirrel Hill and Point Breeze has appreciated 6 percent annually over the last three years.
“Woodland, Castleman and Westminster roads have all had properties sell for more than $3 million,” Mercer said.
Dating back to 1905, the house was designed by Pittsburgh architectural firm McClure & Spahr and was built on land that was originally part of the estate of Pittsburgh railroad and mining baron William Thaw, one of America’s wealthiest 100 people at the turn of the century.
Henry Shenk and Co., best known for construction of the Carnegie Museum and main branch of the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh in Oakland, built the mansion at a cost of $56,000. That’s just a bit above the annual real estate taxes for the property today.
Current residents Ron and Susan Petnuch are the third owners of the property, which was built for Samuel and Margaretta Park Kelly. Their daughter, Eleanor Park Kelly, lived there until her death in 1982.
According to Allegheny County tax records, the Petnuchs purchased the home from The Epiphany Association for nearly $700,000 in 1996.
Nine children and 16 grandchildren later, the couple have decided to downsize but remain in the Pittsburgh area.
“I’m going to miss everything, the details especially,” said Ron Petnuch, a technology executive. “The front wing of the house, we haven’t touched it except to paint.”
Shortly after the Petnuch family arrived in 1996, a former Kelly House gardener approached the Petnuch children while they were outside playing on the lawn. As Ron Petnuch recalls the story, the gardener stood outside the iron fence and asked the children to relay a message to their parents.
“Tell your parents Miss Kelly is in heaven with a grin from ear to ear,” the children remember him saying. “What she always wanted was for this to be a family home. All of you children running around here, she is just delighted.”
Susan Petnuch hopes for the same.
“I would love to see a family buy and move in,” she said. “The home lends itself to it so well to a family.”
Her favorite room is the living room. She is especially fond of an antique hutch that sits in a corner of the pink and blue accented formal room with an original plaster molded ceiling.
The hutch came with the home “and I have stored some of the lovely things that I have received over the years from my mom, husband and children,” Susan Putnuch said. “I just think it represents the house to me — it’s beautiful.”
It may remain with the home, depending on arrangements with the next owner.
Beechwood Boulevard was originally developed during the late 1800s as a “carriage drive” for East End families who could afford carriages and coachmen.
“Most of the mansions (in the East End area) have been torn down and divided into smaller lots. To have an estate of this caliber remaining and untouched is unique,” Mercer said.
The home’s entrance features a marble vestibule with leaded glass, mosaic tile floor and a grand entry hall with marble flooring, ornate moldings and carved oak pillars.
Quarter-sawn oak, cherry, walnut and mahogany woods are featured throughout the 20-plus rooms.
The three-story residence has a sprawling finished lower basement, media room and a third-level bedroom suite with laundry facilities suitable for live-in help or guests. The master suite features a separate sitting room and marble bathroom.
A modern addition includes a three-car garage, mud room and office.
The home includes a wine cellar, a gift from Susan to wine-enthusiast Ron, that accommodates up to 1,000 bottles. There is a fitness area, elevator, koi pond with waterfall, billiard room, 10 fireplaces (each with unique Italian tilework), original single pane windows and numerous built-ins.
Data from the 1920 census show that the Kelly family had some help to keep the house in order: There were six servants — four maids, a gardener and cook.
Joyce Hanz is a Tribune-Review contributing writer.