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Home & Garden

Large Mercer County home is not your average lake house

| Saturday, Oct. 6, 2007

Up on top, the rotating "round room" offers a view of wooded fields on the western fringes of Pennsylvania.

Down below, the lap lanes of the swimming pool float under the great room and are visible through a glass floor.

They are but two features of a 90-acre property in Mercer County that includes a home of more than 10,000 square feet, a "lodge" of 8,000 square feet, and a barn for horses and cattle.

It is all for sale at $5 million.

"I've been in a lot of gorgeous homes," says entrepreneur Gene Kirila, 43, who designed the home he lives in. "But the No. 1 thing here is the family concept. That's the difference between building a museum and building a home."

The home and property in Pymatuning Township near Hermitage show that concept. Entertainment and family life seem more vital than displays of finery. The U-shaped granite counter in the kitchen is built around entertaining guests.

The windows between the patio and the kitchen open to create a smooth counter between the two areas, allowing easy service of food or drink.

The "round room" has a role other than its view.

"So often, we go up to the round room and have cigars and drinks after dinner," says Kirila's wife, Ginger.

The property has many elements that are striking.

• In the 8,000-square-foot lodge, a hinged staircase leads to a loft level. It's counterbalanced with a large rock hanging from a rope, so pulling it down with a hook is easy. It leads to a rope-bridge from which it is possible to climb up a ladder into the wicker basket of a hot-air balloon. An electric motor will haul the basket up into the cupola of the home.

• The garage space in the lodge will house 16 vehicles while the one in the main house will hold five.

• A large deck off the rotating round room creates the fourth level of the bigger home. It overlooks Shenango River Lake.

• The bottom level is a stone cellar for 240 bottles of wine guarded by a safe door from an Army base.

• Besides the room for the swimming pool in the main house, there also is a computer room, theater room with a projection TV, a fitness room and six bedrooms including the guest suite. Total: 14 rooms, six baths and three powder rooms.

• There is a waterfall fountain in the wine cellar as well as a waterfall from the level of the great room into the pool area one story below.

"It is a house of tradition and vision," says Realtor Kevin Mihm from Coldwell Banker in McCandless. He is handling the sale.

He talks of tradition because Kirila's grandfather grew up on a farm across the valley and did some work on the land before it was timbered. George "Soup" Kirila worked at nearby Sharon Steel and introduced Kirila to the land he ended up wanting.

"My husband had his eye on this property for a long time," Ginger says. "One day he was up on this piece of land and said this is where the house should be."

He bought the land in 1989, cleared it of stumps that had been left from timbering in 1992 and '93 and finished the lodge in '94.

The lodge was built as a "fun, party space," Ginger says. It was and is used as that, but the Kirilas and their four children lived in it for a time when the main house was being built from 1998 to the beginning of 2000.

Kirila, whose businesses have ranged from fitness equipment to the development of a type of Fiberglass, says his ability to design the home came from the family's history. "Soup" found some contractors, Kirila says, and that gave him the ability to "take concepts, visualize them and build them."

They christened the house with a New Year's Eve party, bringing in the new millennium, and moved in totally in March 2000.

The departure from the house is built around Kirila's desire for a complete change of lifestyle. He was born and grew up in Brookfield, Ohio, and went to nearby Youngstown State University.

He doesn't believe he can accomplish that change in an area that has been a part of his career and existence. The family plans to move to North Carolina.

"I really need to shift gears," he says. "I have to change the environment. Material things can be rebuilt."

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