For more than 30 years, Northsiders have sadly ogled the three-story Victorian across North Avenue from Allegheny General Hospital -- the decorative incisions in the stone window lintels, the brick corbels, detail on the mansard roof, the iron fencing of the widow's walk and the boarded windows, weeds and loiterers on the steps.
One of the neighborhood's magnificent remnants, 1010 Cedar Ave., was going to ruin at one of its busiest intersections, across from Allegheny Commons Park.
But its fortunes changed in June.
The price tag dipped to $96,000, and Justin and Keili Mistovich, 31-year-old physicians, snared it.
One recent evening, 35 beaming Northsiders gathered on the sidewalk and Mayor Luke Ravenstahl and city council President Darlene Harris joined the couple at a podium on the porch. Buses roared by and drivers gawked as Justin Mistovich announced it would open for business next year as The Allegheny Inn, a five-unit bed and breakfast.
"We're going to transform this into a welcoming gateway to this neighborhood," said Dr. Mistovich, chief resident in orthopedic surgery at Allegheny General. He said he expects the restoration to cost upwards of $400,000.
"Thumbs up to you guys," Mr. Ravenstahl said. "People passing by here are thinking, 'Is something finally going to happen with that building?' The fact that two people my age are doing this is exciting."
"Thank you so much for having the vision to do this building," Ms. Harris said. "I've seen it in beautiful condition and I've seen it at its worst."
"This is one more building to cross off the list," said Mark Masterson, executive director of the Northside Community Development Fund, which provided a partial loan.
When the couple moved to the Central Northside in 2008, 1010 Cedar "immediately caught our eye," Justin Mistovich said. He was a new physician and she was in medical school.
The house was on the market and they asked for a walk-through. But the asking price was too high; they already had a project in the renovation of their residence.
"Almost four years later and still on the market, Keili and I again thought of the house after a friend's parents opened a bed and breakfast in Columbiana, Ohio," Dr. Mistovich wrote in a journal at alleghenyinn.com. "Their house started in a similar state of disrepair."
They requested another look and liked the price.
It took months to get historic review and zoning board approval and to complete legal documents because the sellers were overseas. The required number of parking spots include two in a nearby funeral home lot.
On land that once was owned by Mary Schenley, the house was built in 1880 by a young couple who got wealthy running a liquor emporium on East Ohio Street, Mr. Mistovich said. It is almost 3,700 square feet and will accommodate five units and living space for the manager.
The Mistoviches enlisted as partners Brent Bissell, a friend who helped his family restore the Columbiana Inn, and Clifford Meyer, Ms. Mistovich's father, who has experience in business management and start-up operations.
Late last month, 20 family and friends began gutting and cleaning.
"It was in pretty horrible condition," said Keili Mistovich, who, within weeks of closing on the house started her pediatric residency at Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC and gave birth to the couple's daughter, Madeleine. "Lots of bees and wasps and 100-year-old dirt. Everyone was covered head to toe in black."
The inn's website has a photo album of the process.
"It was an overwhelming amount of work, but it was clear to see that even 30 years of neglect couldn't completely destroy this building," Justin Mistovich wrote in the website's construction journal. "The mahogany stairs, oak entry hall, southern pine floors, and plaster moldings and medallions were largely intact."