It was nearly 50 years ago on a Mother's Day when a young couple happened upon an advertisement for an unfinished spec house in the Butler County countryside near Saxonburg.
"In the afternoon we went to see it and by Monday night we signed the contract," recalled Carol Tillotson, widow of Willard J. Tillotson Jr., founder of the firm Hefren-Tillotson.
Now 115 Lake Manor Lane, Penn Township, is on the market for $725,000 (MLS No. 944186) through Realtor Maureen Fullerton of Howard Hanna Real Estate Service (724-452-1100, ext. 209 or www.howardhanna.com). An open house will be held from 1 to 4 p.m. Jan. 27.
"As you make that turn onto Lake Manor Lane, you come upon the house and it's just stunning," Ms. Fullerton said. "In 24 years of selling real estate in the Pittsburgh area, it is certainly the most unique property."
"Picturesque" is another word that comes to mind when you first see the Dutch Colonial with its gambrel roof and wide lawn fringed by stately trees. Across from the front door is a three-tiered fountain and to the right is a pergola and stone patio, just the place to relax at the end of a long day.
A lake at the base of the front lawn has a slide and a floating dock for summer fun. The 11-acre property also includes a riding trail and a four-stall barn, rebuilt four years ago and painted to match the main house.
The Tillotsons, who had been living in the North Hills, were looking for property with room for their three children, all horse enthusiasts, to ride. Daughter Kim's passion for riding grew after they moved to this place, her mother said. Kim Fleming, now president and CEO of the wealth management firm her father founded, says it was an "idyllic place to grow up."
The mature gardens include numerous flower beds, a wide variety of trees and terraces created from rough boulders.
The house's interior was not yet finished when the family moved in. Today, it is as impressive as the grounds, with four bedrooms and 4 1/2 baths. Off the marble-tiled entryway is the carpeted living room that measures 15 by 9 feet. The fireplace has a wood mantel and marble-tile surround and is sited between two large windows that offer views of the lake. Next is the 15- by-13-foot dining room with a chair-rail that emphasizes a two-color paint scheme.
"From any window in the home there are beautiful views of the property," Ms. Fullerton said.
Maybe the best example of that is found in the 25- by-21-foot family room to the rear of the house. Two walls of windows and several skylights bathe the room in sunlight and offer a view of the rolling countryside. French doors lead to a flagstone back patio. At the end of the room is one of the home's three fireplaces nestled between built-in cabinets.
"It's nice to have the TV in the cabinetry so when you are not using it, it can be out of sight," Ms. Fullerton said.
The eat-in kitchen measures 22 by 12 feet and has a beamed ceiling, high--end cabinetry and a large kitchen island recently updated with a new granite top. Other counter tops are made of ceramic tile that continues up the backsplash. Appliances include an electric cooktop, built-in oven, dishwasher, garbage disposal and refrigerator. Nearby is an 11- by-8-foot study with a desk and built-in cabinets.
Upstairs are three bedrooms measuring 15 by 14 feet, 12 by 12 feet and 11 by 9 feet. One is a junior suite with bath. The 20- by-15-foot master suite features recessed lighting, a coved ceiling, floor-to-ceiling wardrobes with both hanging and drawer storage and a window seat with a fine view.
The master bathroom, while it may need an update, is roomy and light with double sinks and a makeup table combination. There is a single full bathroom off the hallway on the second floor along with a half bath on the first.
The basement boasts a fireplace and an impressive wall of red brick running the length of the 37 by-30-foot game room. The space also has a wet bar with custom-made cabinetry, a full bath and a workout area.
Three weeks ago, contractors finished installing new HardiePlank siding, shutters, soffit and fascia. Other amenities include a laundry room, an attached garage and a newer asphalt roof. Mechanicals include central air conditioning, oil-fueled, hot water heat, well water and a septic system.
The property has an assessed value of $38,270 (www.co.butler.pa.us). Over the past three years, no properties have sold on Lake Manor Lane, part of the Rockdale Lakes subdivision. The closest shopping area is in Cranberry about 20 minutes away, although there is a grocery store in nearby Saxonburg, a short eight-minute drive. The commute to Pittsburgh is roughly 45 minutes.
Mrs. Tillotson said she felt isolated when she first moved to the house, "but within a year I grew to love the privacy. Everyone that came to the door would say 'What a spectacular view!'
"All the memories of the kids growing up there, skating on the lake in the winter, the parties. ... It was a unique way of life, one I will miss."
Liz Gray: firstname.lastname@example.org or 412-263-1978. First Published January 20, 2013 5:00 AM