Buying Here: Shaler

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Southwestern Pennsylvania is filled with towns born from industry. Early businessmen settled along the three rivers, building great factories to produce their wares and grand homes to shelter their families.

The home at 1526 Butler Plank Road in Shaler (MLS 196396) is a rare survivor of that time. The five-bedroom, 11/2 bath house was built in 1824 and expanded in 1830 for Thomas Wilson Shaw, son of John Shaw, who first settled the area known as Glenshaw. For only the second time since it was built, the house and 4.6-acre property is on the market for $425,000 through Beth Danchek of Coldwell Banker Real Estate (412-487-0500, ext. 239 or

The Greek Revival-style home has a well-documented history that includes five generations of the Shaw family that lived there and a historic landmark plaque from the Pittsburgh History and Landmarks Foundation.

In an interview with the North Hills Record, Margaret Fay Shaw Campbell said that the house was framed from "timber cut from the property. The great hearthstone and porch steps were quarried from the property."

The great-grandaughter of Thomas Wilson Shaw also noted that its bricks were "fired on the property from clay that was dug from the banks of the Glenshaw Glass Co."

The home's current owner, Diane Nellis, bought the house with her late husband in 1990 from Dr. Katherine Shaw and her sister, Caroline Shaw Tatom. They and their five children loved the house and neighborhood, she said. She has copies of an interview WQED did with Ms. Tatom around that time.

"I never got to meet the sisters -- the sale was handled by their nephew, Boone Groves," Mrs. Nellis said. "The house was filled with a lot of priceless artifacts at that time including items that traced back to Paul Revere. I wasn't permitted to photograph anything until it was cleared out. Heirs came from around the country to take the sentimental items."

The home is a study in symmetry, with four white fluted columns and a pair of tall evergreens. The porch ceiling is beautifully paneled in a classic design and surrounded with dentil molding in classic Greek style. A row of five double-hung windows on the second floor are repeated in the back of the house. Black shutters contrast with whitewashed brick. There is a second, smaller porch on one side.

There are 10 fireplaces in the home. Three have marble mantels imported from Italy while others are made of wood, brick and quarried stone. Fireplace accessories in the living, dining room and kitchen are original to the home,

Inside, the main entry has one of two staircases (the other is in the original 1824 structure). The later one has beautiful turned handrails and carved wood panels that run to the second floor. Period wallpaper is enhanced by a chair rail and the original 9-inch wood baseboards are painted white.

To the right, the original 20-by-15-foot parlor features built-in bookcases, lots of double-hung windows and a pair of electric sconces by the grand fireplace. The crown molding is nearly 10 inches high.

The formal living room also measures 20 by 15 feet and features a pair of electric candelabras and white wainscoting.

The dining room (18 by 16 feet) is off of the kitchen and houses another piece of history -- a brass pot that is rumored to have brewed one of the first batches of Heinz Ketchup. (Sarah Heinz was best friends with Sara (Shaw) Scott.)

The room has the original hardwood floors and a bright brass chandelier. The generous table seats 10. Off of the dining room, a 17-by-10-foot den serves as an office with dark gray wallpaper and floors.

The 19-by-15-foot kitchen boasts a large fireplace with three original cast-iron pots on the hearth. Wooden hangers on the walls are still used to dry clothes. Oak base cabinets and white solid surface counters provide workspace and oak beams run along the ceiling.

Upstairs, the five bedrooms range in size from 14 by 10 feet to 19 by 16 feet. Each has plenty of natural light, a fireplace and wall-to-wall carpet. The master bathroom has a hardwood floor, pedestal sink and cast-iron claw-foot tub.

The home has no basement and was built on a stone block foundation. It has central air conditioning and is heated by both forced air and radiators. All of the windows are original to the home and were made from handblown glass. The craftsmanship of the windows contributed to the historic designation.

There are three more buildings on the property: a three-car garage with a large second-floor loft and entry that could be used for a rental or home office; and two more outbuildings that have been converted to rentals. One is occupied.

Mrs. Nellis has nothing but fond memories of the home. "It's like living on a mini-estate but only five miles from the city. Your neighbor is the church, the hillside and the creek. It is just so pretty."

The house, which has previously only been open to the public for historical tours, will hold a traditional open house Sunday from 1-4 p.m.



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Rosa Colucci: or 412-263-16621. First Published September 8, 2012 4:00 AM


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