If Frank Lloyd Wright had developed lofts, this is what they might have looked like. But the cantankerous architect probably would have cringed at Annette Trunzo's art deco-style lamps and dishes, which were made by the company that once used this building as a factory.
From 5 to 9 p.m. June 7 and 8, Ms. Trunzo's townhouse in the North Side's Allegheny West neighborhood will be one of seven stops on a progressive walking tour and wine tasting fundraiser that the Allegheny West Civic Council started several years ago. Tour-goers will sample wines from South America and Australia while visiting houses and gardens in the historic district.
This multi-level, contemporary-style home with exposed ductwork, one of six townhouses carved out of a 1930s Chase Brass & Copper Co. factory, is not what most people expect in this neighborhood filled with century-old mansions. But that's exactly why Ms. Trunzo chose it two years ago.
"I liked the neighborhood but didn't want an old Victorian," she said.
And because it was an empty shell, Ms. Trunzo was able to instill her own quirky blend of Usonian style and art deco accents. Like the mythological half man, half horse that remains the Chase company logo, it somehow all works.
"I have loved Frank Lloyd Wright for years," Ms. Trunzo said. "I wondered: How could I get a loft to look like something he would have done?"
She received help from Susan George of Showcase Kitchen and Bath in Aspinwall, who found pictures of a Wright-designed kitchen in Wisconsin. The result is a modern work space warmed by stained wood, a 14-foot beamed ceiling and ceramic tile floor laid diagonally. Stainless-steel appliances complement dark countertops of honed granite and quartz.
The kitchen was followed by the adjacent living room and a lower-level dining area in an area that was once the Chase factory lobby. The company logo featuring a centaur with a drawn bow is set in terrazzo beneath a farm table and wicker-seat chairs Ms. Trunzo found at auctions.
"It's so art deco, so cool," she said.
Upon the table are dishes, serving pieces and other housewares made by Chase from the late 1920s to the early '40s. Now highly collectible, rare Chase pieces can sell for $1,000 or more on eBay. Ms. Trunzo started collecting them when she moved here and often gives pieces to her new neighbors when they move in.
"Hopefully, they don't compete with me on eBay," she said, laughing.
The art deco-style pieces that Ms. Trunzo covets didn't come from this building, however. Dukane Coffee Co. stood here until the early 1900s, when that building was torn down to make way for a Chase plant that made brass couplings and other mill products. Chase, which is now based in Montpelier, Ohio, closed the plant in the 1950s or '60s. Developer Andy Wolfinger bought it in 2003 and converted it to townhouses in 2005-06. Mike Jacobs of Jacob Builders was Ms. Trunzo's general contractor.
She loved the unit's 3,000 square feet of open spaces, large windows topped by curved "eyebrow" awnings and the large deck off the third floor. She grows herbs and vegetables in the planters there and flowers and shrubs in the beds facing Brighton Road. However, what really drew her to this building was its community. The Glassport native spent 10 years living in Fox Chapel before moving here.
"I came from Fox Chapel where you don't really know your neighbors to a place where everybody talks," she said.
Taking her dog Tony to the dog park in nearby West Park, she was struck by how friendly residents were. "Talking to people in the dog park helped me make the decision to buy," she said.
And although she's only lived in the neighborhood for two years, "it gets its hooks into you for life," she said.
Tickets are $60 each for A Tour and Tasting in the Homes and Gardens of Old Allegheny. June 8 is already sold out. June 7 tickets must be purchased in advance at www.alleghenywest.org or by mailing a check payable to AWCC to AWCC, 812 Western Ave., Pittsburgh 15233. Free parking is available in the neighborhood.
Kevin Kirkland: firstname.lastname@example.org or 412-263-1978. First Published May 25, 2013 4:00 AM