Historic French Eclectic house, bought on the spur of the moment, opens doors for McKees Rocks tour

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As a teenager growing up in McKees Rocks, Tony Adamchik admired an imposing brick home on Greydon Avenue. Whenever he drove past it, he vowed to live there one day.

Besides its gorgeous brick exterior, Mr. Adamchik loved the home's awning. As a kid, watching a corny television show called "Family Affair," he loved the awning outside the New York apartment building where Buffy and Jody lived with their Uncle Bill.

When the property went up for sale in 2005, Mr. Adamchik bought it without even seeing the interior (he was out of town). The floral shop owner has never regretted his impulsive decision.

"It's not where you live, it's how you live," he said, recalling the words of his late mother.

His eclectic, picturesque house draws on a number of architectural styles, especially French Eclectic. It is one of four homes and two churches on a self-guided, one-day tour slated for Dec. 3. Members of the McKees Rocks Historical Societyorganized the tour and the 4-year-old non-profit will benefit from all proceeds.

Mr. Adamchik's 3,000-square-foot house was built in 1922 by Julia Bryan Keebler, the only child of McKees Rocks political power broker Miles Bryan. The community's art deco jewel of a high school, set on a hill, bears Mr. Bryan's name.

Julia Bryan, born in 1888, wed Dr. Charles Barton Keebler, a physician from Indiana, Pa., in 1918. Thousands cheered as the Keeblers' 9-year-old daughter, Barbara, cut the ribbon to open the McKees Rocks Bridge in August 1931. At 5,509 feet, the steel-braced arch was the longest span in Allegheny County when it was dedicated. It links McKees Rocks to Ohio River Boulevard and the North Side.

Like many homeowners, Mr. Adamchik began removing old wallpaper from the kitchen, a breakfast nook, the dining room and living room.

"It was so thick you could pull it off in layers," he said.

He installed new plumbing, added a new bathroom and turned the breakfast nook into a den.

Mr. Adamchik loves the curved walkway that leads to his front door and the spacious foyer with two steps that lead to a landing. There's also an enclosed side porch, a space that would be perfect for whiling away an afternoon reading a book.

"It's a very warm, inviting house," Mr. Adamchik said, relaxing on a green sofa in his living room.

The first floor features crown molding and 101/2-foot- ceilings. To the left is a red dining room with a bay window. There's also a chair rail and two built-in, mirrored wall cabinets that reflect displays of china.

The living room has a gorgeous bricked fireplace with a white mantel that is decorated with carved flowers and grapes. Built in bookcases flank a long row of double-hung windows.

Mr. Adamchik is eager to remodel the kitchen and redo the floors in that space.

On the second floor, there are 9-foot-high ceilings, three bedrooms and three bathrooms. The third floor was designed as a maid's quarters. There are bells in the dining room and foyer to summon servants.

The backyard is framed by a 7-foot-high privacy fence and a towering oak tree.

In addition to the houses, tourgoers can see the stained-glass windows inside St. Mary Help of Christians Roman Catholic Church, a Flemish Gothic structure at 1011 Church Ave. The architect, William P. Ginther, also designed St. Philip's Church in Crafton and Immaculate Heart of Mary in Polish Hill.

St. Mary's windows were created by Thedore and Ludwig Von Gerichten, owners of an art glass company in Columbus, Ohio. The company made more than 1,800 stained glass windows for 853 churches before it closed in 1931.

Christ Community Church is an English Gothic structure located at 900 Chartiers Ave. Built in 1906 as the McKees Rocks Presbyterian Church, it is home base for a thrift shop and the Sto-Ken-Rox Meals on Wheels program.

The McKees Rocks tour is from noon to 4 p.m. Dec. 3. Advance tickets are $12 and available by calling Tracey Pedersen at 412-444-5136. Individual tickets purchased on the day of the tour are $15 and can be bought at St. Mary Church. 1011 Church Ave. (15136).

Marylynne Pitz: mpitz@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1648. First Published November 19, 2011 5:00 AM


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