Couple move toward culture of Downtown life

Change of Address


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On a typical summer night, Ralph and Mary Cindrich leave their condominium at 151 Firstside, pedal bicycles to the Hot Metal Bridge, cross to the South Side and dine at Bar Louie in Station Square.

Or, they walk to PNC Park to see a baseball game and stop in afterward at Atria's to hear live music on the first Thursday of the month.

Last fall, they saw the Pittsburgh Public Theater's production of "The Chief," a play about the late Art Rooney Sr. On their walk home through Market Square, they ran into sports writers Vito Stellino and Ira Gordon and invited them over for a drink.

"Culturally, it's more stimulating to live in the city," said Mary Cindrich.

Mr. Cindrich, a successful sports agent who played professional football with the New Orleans Saints and the New England Patriots, does not miss commuting to the twin Victorian-era office buildings in Carnegie that he has put up for sale. Now his home office, which includes hunting trophies of a beautiful deer and birds, is just down the hall from his bedroom.

While their son and daughter were growing up, the Cindriches loved their Mt. Lebanon homes on Orchard and Lynn Haven drives. They bought the latter house from hockey legend Mario Lemieux in 1994.

"We had people from Canada knocking on the door," Mrs. Cindrich said.

By Christmas Eve of 2007, the Cindriches had decided to live at 151 Firstside because of the spectacular view of the Monongahela River, Station Square and Mount Washington, plus the building's proximity to interstates, Point State Park and the Cultural District. The couple also considered their four-legged friend.

"The Trimont does not accept dogs," said Mrs. Cindrich, who is quite fond of her Yorkie, Bella, who goes for walks in Point State Park.

Now that they live Downtown, "we pick up dry newspapers at the front door. The trash bin is a few feet away and there is no grass to mow. My wife was tired of doing all that work," Mr. Cindrich said.

Where it was three miles from their Mt. Lebanon house to church on Sundays, Mass is now a two-block walk to St. Mary of Mercy, Mrs. Cindrich said, adding that she loves the pastor, Rev. Thomas A. Sparacino.

At 151 Firstside, the 15th floor had just opened up and the Cindriches bought two units plus part of a third, giving them 3,200 square feet of living space. To design and furnish it, Mrs. Cindrich spent a year-and-a-half working with architect Charles Coltharp of Indovina Associates and Judith Liebler, an interior designer who runs Pepperberry's in Mt. Lebanon.

Even with good decoration, some condominiums still feel like rectangular boxes. But this space feels like a home and hideaway in the sky. Every detail has been considered -- even the concrete support pillars are covered in wood to help create that comfy, old English feel.

Just beyond the spacious foyer with a round table hangs a large Empire-style mirror framed in intricately carved wood. A cherished family memento from Mr. Cindrich's parents, Stella and her late husband Tony, it once hung over a fireplace.

"I wanted to open up that entrance," Mrs. Liebler said.

Just past the mirror is a large living room with furniture in Madeira-colored fabric and a flat-screen television framed by a custom-built cabinet. There's also room for a large dining room table.

To the left is a spacious kitchen with a granite-topped island and breakfast bar with four bar stools. Mrs. Cindrich made sure the kitchen accommodated buffet service for the 80 people who attend the couple's annual Christmas Eve party. She shops regularly in the Strip District, visiting the Pennsylvania Macaroni Co. and Right By Nature, a natural foods grocery.

Just off the kitchen is a 9-foot square bar framed in dark wood. There's room for a tavern table and four chairs and a working jukebox lit by neon. On the wall hangs a black-and-white photograph of Steelers linebacker James Farrior from Super Bowl XL. Mr. Farrior, who was represented by Mr. Cindrich, wrote, "To Ralph's Pub. This is where it all started!"

The inscription refers to a meeting held last summer when Mr. Farrior visited the Cindrich home to plan contract negotiations before the 2008-2009 season.

"He was adamant that he would not play anywhere else," the sports agent recalled.

While this oasis of suds and spirits may be where Mr. Cindrich brainstorms with clients, it also provides a spectacular view of the bustling Monongahela River and Mount Washington. Even the brown tile floor, which looks like leather, lends this pub an air of authenticity.

In the private quarters, there's space for Mrs. Cindrich's light, bright office and laundry room. On the walls here, Maria DeSimone Prascak of Maria's Ideas painted beautiful red flowers in baskets. She also painted a topiary on a wall in one of the guest bathrooms.

Mr. Cindrich's closet, which is so neat, spacious and beautiful that it would delight the most persnickety professional organizer, was done by master carpenter Wayne Frazier. He also created built-in cupboards in the master bedroom for Mrs. Cindrich as well as the cabinetry in the living room and kitchen.

A separate children's wing houses two bedrooms and two baths used by their 29-year-old son, Michael, and 27-year-old daughter, Christina, both of whom live in California but visit their hometown on holidays. For privacy, there's a sliding pocket door between the two bathrooms.

Change of Address is a series on people who have recently bought a home in Western Pennsylvania, exploring what influenced them to choose a particular home or neighborhood. If you have an interesting story, contact Gretchen McKay at gmckay@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1419.


Marylynne Pitz can be reached at mpitz@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1648.


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