Buying Here: North Strabane

Washington County house built in 1860s has been a dairy farm, horse farm and family home


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More than 40 years ago, Jim and "Pris" (Priscilla) Pfanstiel moved into their four-bedroom, wood-frame farmhouse to raise their children and run a business. Now the time has come to look toward something a little smaller ... maybe.

"You know, I have a change of heart about every half-hour," Mr. Pfanstiel said. "One minute I'm ready to move, the next I'm sitting on the porch having a drink thinking, 'Why not stay?' "

Mrs. Pfanstiel is slightly more sure. "I can say it's too much work for us, but I hate to leave it. It's so beautiful, just a very good spot to live."

So the couple have put the horse farm at 110 Canterbury Road, North Strabane, Washington County (MLS No. 961024) on the market for $750,000. The property is listed with Century 21 Frontier agent Bruce Fife (412-999-2639 or www.c21frontier.com).

Originally built to be a dairy farm, the sprawling house dates to the 1860s, according to the Pfanstiels, who spent a day tracing the deed at the Washington County Courthouse.

PG graphic: North Strabane
(Click image for larger version)

"We traced it back to 1865, but we didn't go all the way deeper," Mr. Pfanstiel said.

And while additions have been added over the years, much of the house's heritage is still seen today. He said later additions were well-built but lacked the decorative trim of the original house.

"The original house has fantastic trim and big wide molding and at the corner of the doors there's a scroll-like square."

Mr. Fife says: "The house is just like going back in time," with high ceilings, dark woodwork and tall windows. Set on 9.4 acres, the home is secluded while remaining close to Washington Mall and other shopping areas.

The old-fashioned knob by the front door does not ring the bell the way it once did, but it's still a nice nod to the house's past.

Mr. Pfanstiel figures the driveway is roughly 200 yards from the main road. Most people enter through the back door because it is closer to the driveway. The back entrance leads through one of three porches. There is a front covered porch, a back stoop that faces the springhouse and a heated side porch with newer Pella thermal windows.

The 20-by-8-foot back entry has rich, dark hardwood flooring, a large white brick fireplace and a window facing the backyard. Off the entry is the 20-by-18-foot living room with built-ins next to a double-sided fireplace. The other side opens to the wood-paneled den, which measures 15 by 12 feet.

"In the den is another fireplace, very elegantly done if we didn't have grandchildren and great-grandchildren," Mr Pfanstiel said, laughing.

The 15-by-15-foot dining room is the perfect size for large family gatherings and there is a built-in corner cabinet and a dark-stained fireplace mantel that gives the room the feeling of a Victorian dining room.

Next is the 20-by-15-foot eat-in kitchen with exposed brick wall and a decorative black stove. The flu-less gas stove was installed about seven years ago. The Quaker Maid cabinets are solid cherry and there is a separate pantry for storage. The only thing the new owner may want to replace is the floor.

"One of our daughters had a Jack Russell who jumped up on the sink and turned on the water," Mr. Pfanstiel said. The sink overflowed and soaked the floor.

The kitchen's ceiling beams are decorative and can easily be removed if desired.

There is a powder room on the first floor next to the den and a full bath on the second floor along with a bathroom off the master suite. The full bathrooms were updated in the past couple of years.

The soft blue walls in the master bathroom are a nice contrast to the crisp white tiles that surround the tub. The master bedroom measures 15 by 13 feet and offers plenty of storage with two closets plus a deep walk-in closet big enough to be a nursery, if needed.

The other three bedrooms measure 15 by 15 feet. The fourth bedroom has a dormer, each with a deep closet. Three of the bedrooms have wall-to-wall carpeting and one has polished dark hardwood floors.

There is an attic but it's not really usable square footage.

Another historical touch is the home's springhouse. Part of a working dairy, the spring runs into a traceway where the milk cans kept cool, continuing onto a 500-gallon tank. From there, the water is piped into the house with the help of a pump that only activates when water is used.

"In 42 years, that stream has never even gotten smaller, just runs and runs and runs forever," Mrs. Pfanstiel said.

The couple could be using city water, which is available, but they "just don't see the need" and "don't miss the water bills."

Over the years there have been various upgrades to the house's mechanical systems, including a new electrical panel in the past five years. The home is radiator heated with a large gas-fired boiler. There are a couple of rooms with window air conditioners but the majority have ceiling fans.

"I need AC but Pris doesn't need it, so we compromise. ... We don't use it very often," Mr. Pfanstiel said.

In addition to the main house there's a self-contained apartment above the two-car garage with automatic garage door and a newer horse barn. Mr. Pfanstiel found the two-bedroom garage apartment came in handy as an office over the years. There is a simple kitchen with a small sink and refrigerator along with a full bathroom.

The horse barn features three stalls with room for as many as six horses. Currently home to five boarders, the barn has electricity and is in good condition. There is an outdoor practice ring and lots of room to ride over the 9.4 acres.

There is a gas well on the property and drilling in the area has brought economic change to much of the region. Over the past three years, four properties have sole on Canterbury Lane for prices ranging from $262,000 in December 2012 to $393,500 in April 2010 (www.realstats.net).

With three children, seven grandchildren and three great-grandchildren, the owners have decided to make more use of their second home in Virginia Beach. It's time, they say, for another family to make this former dairy farm a home.


SALES SNAPSHOT


CANONSBURG


2010

2013

SALES

121

162

MEDIAN PRICE

$114,900

$112,500

HIGHEST PRICE

$247,469

$1,210,000



CECIL


2010

2013

SALES

247

327

MEDIAN PRICE

$200,000

$230,000

HIGHEST PRICE

$900,000

$769,000



CHARTIERS TOWNSHIP


2010

2013

SALES

93

122

MEDIAN PRICE

$172,000

$185,000

HIGHEST PRICE

$500,000

$375,000



HOUSTON


2010

2013

SALES

17

9

MEDIAN PRICE

$104,900

$70,872

HIGHEST PRICE

$136,900

$197,000



McDONALD


2010

2013

SALES

13

25

MEDIAN PRICE

$34,842

$40,000

HIGHEST PRICE

$111,000

$250,000



NOTTINGHAM


2010

2013

SALES

31

40

MEDIAN PRICE

$259,900

$260,000

HIGHEST PRICE

$490,000

$567,500

PETERS


2010

2013

SALES

366

490

MEDIAN PRICE

$339,900

$340,000

HIGHEST PRICE

$1,025,000

$1,500,000



NORTH STRABANE


2010

2013

SALES

325

475

MEDIAN PRICE

$196,000

$224,900

HIGHEST PRICE

$1,125,000

$3,300,000



SOUTH STRABANE


2010

2013

SALES

128

198

MEDIAN PRICE

$182,000

$185,000

HIGHEST PRICE

$630,000

$1,800,000



WASHINGTON


2010

2013

SALES

151

224

MEDIAN PRICE

$50,000

$48,500

HIGHEST PRICE

$338,000

$195,000



EAST WASHINGTON


2010

2013

SALES

17

27

MEDIAN PRICE

$128,000

$164,000

HIGHEST PRICE

$195,000

$355,500


homes

Lizabeth Gray: lgray@post-gazette.com. First Published August 24, 2013 4:00 AM


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